Thursday February 23, 2012
From Creamer Media in Johannesburg, I’m Shannon De Ryhove
Political parties and others have broadly welcomed Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's proposed 2012/13 Budget tabled in the National Assembly on Wednesday. It exceeds R1-trillion for the first time ever with the bulk of spending, R615.7-billion, earmarked for social services. Revenue is expected to be about R904.8-billion. Democratic Alliance spokesperson Tim Harris said the money allocated for infrastructure and growth was "not good enough". Nick Koornhof, of the Congress of the People, said government should lead the way and show it could spend taxpayers' money properly.
Meanwhile, there was also mixed reaction to his speech, with trade union federation Cosatu vowing to push ahead with a planned strike against freeway tolling in Gauteng on March 7. This is despite Gordhan announcing earlier in the day that the Treasury had put together a special appropriation of R5.8-billion to reduce the toll burden on motorists. The costs of the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project amount to R20-billion, with the South African National Roads Agency Limited introducing the tolling system in the province to pay the debt. As a result, e-tag motorists would not pay more than R550 per month on toll fees.
As government finds ways to grow an economy that may eventually produce much-needed jobs, spending on social assistance will rise sharply in the next three years from R111.2-billion this year to a projected R129-billion in 2015. The increase will cater for an expected rise in the number of social grant beneficiaries from 15.6-million this year to 16.8-million in three years. More than 10-million of these are children. Tabling this year’s Budget in Parliament, Gordhan said expenditure on social grants will grow from R105-billion in the current financial year to R122-billion in the next three years.
Also making headlines:
Ways to find the billions needed for the National Health Insurance scheme could include an increase in the VAT rate, a payroll tax on employers, and a surcharge on the taxable income of individuals.
And, South Africa's spending on education continues to grow with Gordhan announcing an allocation of R207-billion to the sector with projections that this may rise to up to R236-billion over the next three years.
That’s a roundup of news making headlines today.