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21 July 2011 at 14:16 - Posted by Anonymous

Higher taxes for the rich needed: minister


Bathabile Dlamini

Increased taxes for the rich will benefit the poor in South Africa, says Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini.

"We should have a society where those with resources are willing to give to those that have nothing and in the end we will all win," she told a poverty conference in Johannesburg on Thursday.

"This may require increased levels of taxation for the rich and it will require the captains of industry and investors to accept lower profits so that their workers may enjoy higher and, dare I say it, decent work."

This would be explored over the next few years.

"The building blocks for such a social compact are found in the policies of the African National Congress.

"We believe in the development of a political and economic system that places the needs of the poor and social issues... at the top of the national agenda," said Dlamini.

Academics heard that such a policy would ensure that "democratic dividends" benefited all.

"This might sound trite but if we do not consider whom our policies are geared to support in the main over the next 15 years, even the abilities of those of us who are able to buy services in the private realm will be compromised by an increasingly divided society impatient with this system we call democracy."

She noted that the manner in which to address poverty, underdevelopment, and inequality should be consistent with the values of solidarity and equity.

"This means that our policies cannot be blind to the day-to-day difficulties that millions of South Africans experience.

"The unequal income distribution and the anti-regulation schemes brought by the neo-liberal policies have a real social impact in every sector of the economy, directly and indirectly."

The minister said she hoped to "continue dialogue" about reducing inequality.

After her address, she refused to answer questions regarding the increased taxes of which she spoke, referring queries to her colleague Wiseman Magasela.

Magasela said the department was looking at various models and ways of dealing with poverty and unemployment.

"We are looking at modelling the different tax reforms to help the poor and we are checking the fiscal impact... increasing taxation is one of the models we are looking at," he said.

"We cannot say how the direction of South Africa is going but we are looking at the magnitude of the problem and ways of addressing it."

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