Fri Oct 21 11:23:06 CAT 2016


By unknown | Feb 12, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Anna Majavu

Anna Majavu

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel's Budget Speech in Parliament yesterday was a mixture of the good, the bad and the ugly.

While Manuel announced tax cuts and billions of rands to beef up public services, child grants increased by only R10, fuel tax increased by a whopping 40,5 cents a litre, and very little money was set aside for land restitution.

The biggest share of the country's R834billion budget will go to education.

With R140,4billion in its coffers, the Department of Education will be able to expand the number of no-fees schools to 60 percent, up from 40 percent.

A R4billion injection into the school nutrition scheme will mean that eight million children will now get a meal for 200 days of the year, up from the six million children who get a meal for just 150 days of the year currently.

Tertiary students will benefit with the National Student Financial Aid Scheme receiving an additional R330million, said Manuel.

Although the old age, disability and care dependency grants rise by R50 a month to R1010, and the foster care grant from R650 a month to R680, parents will be hard pressed to see anything good about the child support grant, which will now be R240 a month - an increase of just R10.

Deputy Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told Sowetan the R10 increase, "while not a huge amount, achieves the objective".

"We need to strike a balance between ensuring that we mitigate against poverty but recognise that there are people who are calling for a reduction in the child support grant," he said.

Health spending is up by almost R3billion, with greater spending on HIV-Aids and tuberculosis.

Government will get R468million to pay for improved TB treatment, and R932million for improved HIV screening for all pregnant women, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission programmes, Manuel said.

A new institute that will monitor and audit the quality of healthcare delivered in clinics and state hospitals will get R22,5million of the budget.

Government's target of placing 30 percent of farmland in the hands of black people by 2014 will almost certainly not be met.

Just over R20billion has been allocated, though the Department of Land Affairs had requested R75billion.

Responding to criticism that the allocation for land reform fell far short of expectations, Manuel said land restitution was "complex".

"The more money you have, the higher the price of land. Some instances of gross exploitation are before the courts," he said.

Instead, the Treasury has allocated R1,8billion for rural development, with R1,2billion set aside to help poor rural households start their own food gardens.

The police and justice system will get a massive R5,4billion to fund the government's overhaul of the sector and R750million of this will go to employing more than 20000 extra police officers in the next two years.

An increase of more than R150million from last year will go to improving the police DNA database and forensic laboratories, which police say will enable them to increase the number of crimes they solve.

Following the warning from the Department of Health that "cholera was spreading down the N1 highway", R1,6billion was allocated to the Water Affairs and Forestry department, R1billion of this for new bulk water and sanitation systems.

World Cup stadiums get an extra R463million. By 2010, "government would have contributed R11,5billion to stadium construction", Manuel said.

He said the Housing department would get another R1,5billion to speed up delivery. This included R500million "to resettle 25000 households living on dolomitic land in the Khutsong area".

Manuel slammed the Skills Development Fund, saying it had failed to spend "huge amounts of money" on programmes to improve the skills of ordinary workers.


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