The Budget tabled on Wednesday had a number of misses, with one of the biggest being the failure to cut government's public servant remuneration, which was set to grow by 7% a year over the medium term, economist Dr Azar Jamine said on Friday.
"It is earmarked to carry on growing as fast as it has in recent years and, instead, the reliance was on raising taxes in trying to close the gap in expenditure, and that is not sustainable to long-term growth," he pointed out during a business breakfast.
He suggested that, by cutting government spending, it would create more opportunity for private sector involvement. "As an economist, I have to show you what is going wrong and what is going wrong is that government is not biting the bullet," he added.
Jamine noted that the biggest challenges currently faced by President Cyril Ramaphosa in steering the economy forward included the Budget big tickets, such as the increase in value-added tax, the introduction of fee-free higher education - which he said would jeopardise other areas of expenditure - and land expropriation without compensation, while avoiding the destruction of food security.
Jamine questioned how government could raise the expenditure of the Department of Higher Education and Training by R57-billion for the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period for fee-free higher education, while cutting the Department of Basic Education's budget.
"What's the point in cutting basic education and funding tertiary education if people go through the schooling system and when they go to university, they're not sufficiently qualified, because they haven't received a decent basic education?"
He said the lack of decent basic education resulted in about 55% of tertiary students not completing their studies.
He added that the basic education dilemma further created barriers to employment. "Would you employ someone as a civil engineer who had 30% for maths in matric?" he asked.
"If we really want to break through unemployment, that's where we have got to focus," he added.
He noted that State-owned enterprises were also a "hornets' nest" at the moment and government needed to "get that right".