Budget gives hope to the rural poor

MEC for agriculture and rural development Nandi Mayathula-Khoza yesterday presented an ambitious budget for the rural areas of Gauteng.

MEC for agriculture and rural development Nandi Mayathula-Khoza yesterday presented an ambitious budget for the rural areas of Gauteng.

The budget was endorsed unopposed.

Mayathula-Khoza presented a budget of R437million at the Gauteng legislature. Her department also covers , conservation and environmental affairs.

She said one of the most challenging areas in her department was agriculture, which could help ease poverty as the country was feeling the effects of the global recession.

She said other areas of concern included focusing on improving the poor living conditions of farm workers.

"The challenges we have include the sharp rise in food prices and increased cost of living as part of the effects of the economic meltdown, poor living conditions of farm workers and dwellers, lack of technical skills training on how to farm, need for finance for the rural poor to productively till the land, and emerging farmers who continue to lose their farms," she said.

She allocated R165million to agriculture and veterinary services, R143million to administration, R47million to conservation and R81 million to environment.

Meanwhile, MEC for roads and transport Bheki Nkosi said his department was committed to the implementation of the Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system, scheduled to kick off on September 1.

During his budget speech yesterday, Nkosi promised to engage the taxi industry on BRT issues.

"We have appointed people who will represent Gauteng in the joint national working group, who would engage with representatives from the taxi industry," Nkosi.

He allocated R8,5billion to the department of roads and transport for the current financial year.

Among other allocations, he put aside R312million for the maintenance of roads, which include roads in townships.

R97million was allocated for maintenance of the K15 between Leratong and Dobsonville, R16million for the K15 Phase Two between Dobsonville and Protea Glen, which is under construction, and R66million for work on Beyers Naudé in Honeydew.

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