Nokukhanya Mntambo21 February 2024 | 17:51

5 takeaways from the 2024 budget speech

It comes at a time when the government is faced with a mismatch of less-than-expected revenue collection and higher-than-desired spending, resulting in a fiscal deficit.

5 takeaways from the 2024 budget speech

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana delivers the budget speech during a joint National Assembly sitting at the Cape Town City Hall. Picture: Supplied/@SAgovnews on X

JOHANNESBURG - Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana has tabled a budget mixed with optimism and caution about the country’s public finances as the government scrambles to balance the books.

The highly anticipated budget speech was Godongwana’s third since the start of his term and the sixth administration’s last before the general elections.

But it was also arguably the toughest budget vote in decades.

It comes at a time when the government is faced with a mismatch of less-than-expected revenue collection and higher-than-desired spending, resulting in a fiscal deficit.

With over a decade of low economic growth, the country’s poor balance sheet has only been made worse by structural challenges – especially where Eskom and Transnet are involved.

Power cuts and operational problems in freight rail and ports continue to disrupt economic activity and limit the country’s export potential.

In a last-ditch attempt before the watershed 29 May elections – the government has put together a plan that it believes will address macro-economic stability, structural reforms and improvements in state capability to raise growth rates.

In addition to keeping expenditure in check and finding additional revenue – Godongwana’s 2024 budget has also set its sights on bringing down the government’s rising debt.

Although cautiously optimistic – Godongwana says a combination of prudent tax increases, improved tax compliance and strengthened revenue administration put South Africa in a good place to face near-term challenges.


The government has proposed tax increases totalling R15 billion in 2024/25 to alleviate immediate fiscal pressures.

This includes above-inflation increases to excise taxes and no inflation adjustments to personal income taxes to accommodate what’s known as bracket creep.

On the face of it – no increase to personal income tax sounds like some reprieve but the devil is in the detail.

If you receive an inflation-linked salary increase this year – you could be bumped up into a higher tax bracket and ultimately pay more tax.

Despite the tough economic times – smokers and drinkers won’t escape the annual increases for their favourites vices.

Excise duties for alcohol of up to 7.2%, while tobacco products will increase by up to 8.2%.


While personal income tax brackets will remain the same – the government is looking to corporates to meet its revenue shortfall.

The National Treasury now plans to introduce global minimum tax rules for multi-national corporations.

This will see big corporations pay a minimum of 15% in efforts to boost tax collection.


Cost containment won’t be easy in an election year, but it won’t stop the ANC-led government from splurging on the social wage bill to appease voters.

As the country approaches the 29 May general elections – Godongwana’s 277-page document has been described as an elections budget.

Social grants are expected to take up the lion’s share of the government’s expenditure this year – with increases across the board expected to take effect in April.


Sporting a hat, Godongwana says he will go cap in hand to the South African Reserve Bank to help alleviate the country’s debt crisis.

The government has announced plans to dig into the country’s gold and foreign exchange reserves to pay off some of its high and rising debt.

In a move that has garnered mixed reaction – Godongwana says the National Treasury will withdraw R150 billion from the contingency reserve account over the next three years.

The gold and foreign exchange contingency reserve account is an account held by the central bank – aimed at protecting it from currency volatility.

The drawdown is expected to lower the government’s borrowings from R553 billion to R429 billion by 2026.


Like in previous years, Godongwana looks set to continue his tough love approach to state-owned companies (SOEs).

While Transnet and Eskom are among the biggest drags on the country’s economy - there are no new cash bailouts for struggling and underperforming SOEs.

But there are still guarantee facilities – with strict conditions – to fall back on.