Budget 2018 has a silver lining for the marketing and communications industry

There is no doubt that there is a countrywide and global sense and belief of new and inspired hope in terms of both political stability and policy certainty in South Africa. Within this context, Minister of Finance Mr Malusi Gigaba delivered both his first annual budget speech, and the first budget under the new Ramaphosa led ANC government.

In the hours following the announcement of the budget, it would seem that the public discourse has moved to discussing policy matters emanating from it, as opposed to the heated discussions of past years in which issues tended to be more political than rooted in economic policy. This bodes well for all, not just our industry. It shows we are moving into an era in which policy trumps all else. Even while a dark cloud hovers above the head of the Minister. .

From the perspective of the marketing and communications industry, the macro-economic outlook is very bright. GDP is expected to grow; there has been strong agricultural growth; higher commodity prices; exports are expected to grow; inflation is expected to drop and there is a general upturn in investor sentiment. This provides much needed relief and inspires hope.

Says Odette van der Haar, CEO at the Association for Communication and Advertising, “Within an economy that has positive data straddled by the possibility of increased investment, marketers and brand owners will be looking to secure their ‘piece of the pie’. And in direct correlation, our industry will benefit as this augurs well for increased marketing spend.”

The minister announced that we have the opportunity to achieve faster and more inclusive growth, to create jobs for our people and a better life for all South Africans. The opportunity ‘comes from a favourable global economic outlook, with many of our trading partners doing well, and from improved prices for our exports, a stronger rand and favourable inflation outlook.’

But this good news was all subdued by a budget that has been described as a ‘tough one’. One that will hit the poorest in our nation the hardest. The much mooted increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) which did not materialise in the 2017 budget finally made landfall in 2018. And it has become the key talking point around the budget.

Sure we may be faced with a tough year ahead, but things are definitely looking up. While the VAT increase will hit at the core of the consumers we most often communicate with, mid-lower income earners, it will be tempered by increased government spending. Foremost of which will be R57bn of new allocations for fee-free higher education and training. This is an investment in our future marketers and communications professionals among others. While not a silver bullet, we know that there is a massive talent base that can feed our industry. A talent base that has not had the opportunity to shine due to lack of opportunities. This is all set to change as we head into 2019 and beyond.   

Concludes van der Haar, “We welcome the many positive aspects of the budget delivered by the Finance Minister and look forward to an economic environment that is stable and progressive. This is critical to the continued success of our industry and the broader advertising profession. The communication from the government yesterday in many respects instilled hope, trust and desire. It is what we strive to achieve on a daily basis as marketers and communicators. Like the Minister said when he quoted Kendrick Lamar, We gon’ be right, we gon’ be alright.”