Open letter to South Africa’s students‚ universities and government‚ represented by Minister in the .
Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's budget yesterday generally got the thumbs up for focussing on improving the lives of the poor and the provision of social services.
The United Democratic Movement welcomed the increase in social grants and in the provisions for teachers and health workers.
But the party called for "a more integrated social development system that targets poor households and links education and health care with social grants so that it is possible to monitor the progress of poor households and especially the development of the children in poor households".
The Democratic Alliance welcomed the R3,3billion yearly allocation over three years to increase the number of police and improve police salaries.
Ian Davidson, who is the DA's spokesman on finance, said his party hoped the allocation would "translate into significant expansion of the number of officers involved in crime prevention rather than administration".
Davidson was critical of Manuel's "failure to stimulate economic growth by bringing down the cost of doing business in South Africa".
Though he applauded Manuel's speech, the Independent Democrats' spokesman, Avril Harding, called on the government to extend the schools feeding scheme to high schools.
Harding said the ID was "excited by the doubling" of the allocation for the treatment of Aids patients.
Except for a few "thorny issues", the budget was also welcomed by the Federation of Unions of South Africa (Fedusa).
The abolition of tax on retirement funds was one of the announcements most welcomed by the federation.
Dennis George, Fedusa's general secretary, said: "Trustees must ensure that workers reap the benefits of this decision [and] be held accountable [if they do not]."
The federation said that though the safety and security budget was to increase to R43,6billion by 2010, this alone would not solve the crime problem.
"The problem does not lie merely in allocation of funcing but in implementation," said George.
Fedusa said a social security system would be a safety net for workers who could not afford to pay into a private retirement fund.