Dirk Lotriet
2 minute read
26 Oct 2018
9:30 am

Tip for Tito: This child needs more than VAT and fuel levies to grow

Dirk Lotriet

An economy is not a child: it doesn’t grow without encouragement.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni. Picture: Gallo Images

If one of SA’s media houses decides to publish a magazine about the terrible twos, my little Egg will undoubtedly be the first centrefold.

Nothing is ever simple in my dysfunctional little family, and that includes childhood stages. The two-year-old Egg doesn’t simply announce her dissatisfaction with anything – she falls down wailing, while kicking the air and voicing her hatred for the terrible parents fate burdened her with.

Yesterday morning she insisted on wearing a Spiderman shirt and pyjama shorts to school. The lovely Snapdragon, who has the clearly outdated idea that little girls should be dressed in cute, frilly outfits, didn’t agree and our house was turned into the State Theatre.

Snapdragon is, after all, the doyenne of domestic drama and refuses to be out-tantrumed by a mere brat. “Let her be,” I told her. “She’ll grow up. One day we will just see that she’s 10 and we will miss these days.”

“I wish you would grow up,” Snapdragon said. (She often suggests adulthood to me, and every time I politely decline.)

That’s the wonderful thing about children – they grow.

Unlike our economy.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni made some encouraging sounds during his budget speech. He lambasted corrupt officials, he didn’t spare the rod when he discussed SAA and he did an excellent job of stressing in how deep a mess our fiscal matters are.

But I missed a definite action plan to kick-start growth. An economy is not a child: it doesn’t grow without encouragement. Our economy is more like a husband who is set in his childish ways… it won’t grow with only love and vegetables.

I have a lot of faith in Tito, but we have to acknowledge that he has a daunting task ahead of him.

A bloated, expensive civil service, underperforming SOEs, inefficient revenue collection, unemployment, a stuttering JSE, an oversized Cabinet, Moody’s…

A previous finance minister used the phrase “Tips for Trevor” to test the water before announcing his annual budget.

I have one Tip for Tito: Sir, this child needs more than VAT and fuel levies to grow. He’s a friendly, polite child and we all love him very much, but the figures on his report card are disappointing.

The time for talk is over. It’s time for action.

Dirk Lotriet. Picture: Alaister Russell

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.