Government to spend R13,9bn more this year

FINANCE Minister Pravin Gordhan has moved decisively to put a lid on suggestions by opposition parties that he would follow in the footsteps of former finance minister Trevor Manuel.

"We are quite emphatic about the fact that we do not want to carry on with business as usual. We do want to do things differently," Gordhan told the media yesterday, ahead of delivering his Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) in Parliament.

He said the government was "in the early days of putting in revitalised building blocks . that will take us in a new direction".

In his MTBPS Gordhan announced that the government would spend R13,9billion more this year than it had planned.

Much of the adjustment will be used to pay higher than expected salary increases for government officials.

But there will also be real spending on health, education and public works.

An extra R1,36billion goes to health, R900million of this for more people to get free antiretroviral treatment.

Pupils in Grades 1 to 6 will benefit from an extra R524million for workbooks.

Public Works will get R114,5 million for new job crea- tion programmes in rural areas.

An additional R614million has been set aside for visible policing.

The government also intends to collect more taxes from those who are reluctant to cough up.

"There are still people in South Africa who earn millions of rands and still don't pay their fair share of tax," said Gordhan.

On the downside, the government has cut the number of schools with no services that were supposed to be provided with a safe water supply, "due to an increase in costs".

And over half a billion rands from the MTBPS goes to the SABC, Denel and the Gautrain.

The SABC, which is about R830million in debt, will get the R200million bailout it asked for.