20 students in competition to solve SA's economic, social challenges

Nedbank economist Busi Radebe believes that students have to show off their economics knowledge.
Nedbank economist Busi Radebe believes that students have to show off their economics knowledge.
Image: Mzwandile Khathi

A group of 20 students have been given an opportunity to find practical and workable solutions to some of the country’s key social and economic challenges. 

These future economists are the top 20 finalists  in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech competition. The competition is in its 48th edition and it culminates  in the delivery of the National Budget Speech to take place on Wednesday.

The students from seven different universities across the country had already gathered at Cape Town’s Lagoon Beach Hotel where they have to impress judges with their ideas on: South Africa is in a fiscal position to drive NH1, and answer questions on wether the trade war between the US and China is good for global growth.

They will get an opportunity to interact with policymakers from National Treasury, the Reserve Bank as well as some of the country’s top economists and business minds.

Nedbank’s economist Busi Radebe said the students have to show off their economics knowledge. “They also have to use this opportunity in a fine way to come up with solutions to economic problems faced by the country. I also hope that they will learn something from some of the country’s top economists,” she said.

The competition is opened to both undergraduate and post-graduate economics and finance students from South African tertiary institutions. The students were required to submit essays responding to current socio-economic challenges.

Undergraduates had to make a case for and against investing in South Africa, while the post-graduates had to write an essay on President Cyril Ramaphosa, who had announced a number of initiatives to stimulate economic growth – i.e $100bn investment target, the jobs summit and the stimulus package.

The question was, what do they think will  the likely outcome be in terms of the shared aims of lifting growth and creating more jobs.

In answering the questions, they had to  put themselves in the shoes of the finance minister by addressing competing demands and attempting to find a balanced view to tackle the issues of the day.

This year’s winner will stand to win more than R400,000 in prize money, with the main awards being handed out by deputy minister of finance David Masondo at a gala dinner which will be held after the Budget Speech on Wednesday.

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