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Government should reflect on spendable funds of senior South Africans

The minister of finance, Mr Tito Mboweni, was, once again, not kind to senior South Africans during his budget speech.

“A measly R80 per month more on the old age grant does little to improve the situation of the elderly,” says Mr Jaco Bothma, the Managing Director of Ons Tuis. “It is a big challenge for an elderly person to afford food, accommodation and medical care on R1 860 per month. That is not even considering food and other necessities like toiletries.”

The minister boasted that “we are a caring society… we are a caring government’ during his budget speech, but the government does very little to show how they care for older people practically. Our seniors can only depend on a pension fund. There are no signs of exclusive age benefits in the form of a discount on medication and other necessities.

“Education receives a budget of R396,4billion, while students increasingly loot and burn their universities,” says Mr Botha. “But the budget for the elderly – who have contributed to the economy for years – is only R83,2 billion.”

Some light in the tunnel is that there is no VAT increase this year and that there is some tax relief.

We are pleased with the adjustment of taxable income brackets to R128 650 for persons between the ages of 65 and 74, and to R143 850 for those older than 75.

The personal income tax rebate increases to R8 199 for persons older than 65 and R2 763 for persons older than 75.

“Even though we hoped the tax-free threshold for savings would be increased to R50 000, the minister announced it would increase by R3 000 to R36 000 per annum,” says Mr Botha. “That makes it more difficult for younger and older persons to save more money for their retirement.

“It turns into an evil cycle where you cannot save enough when you are younger, and you are dependent on an old age grant when you are older. It is time for the government to reflect on the future of the country as well as those of its residents.”

Hannelie Fourie
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