JOHANNESBURG – Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has announced that more money will be injected in sectors such as education, health, economic affairs and agriculture, social protection and defence public and safety.
Gordhan, who was recalled to the position, presented his first Budget speech in Parliament after President Jacob Zuma’s reshuffling of finance ministers in December last year.
He says government plans to manage finances in a prudent and sustainable way and protect South Africans from the effects of the drought.
The minister has allocated R297.5 billion for the education sector, an increase from last year’s R265.7 billion.
Basic education will get R205.8 billion, while university subsidies will be allocated a total of R28.0 billion.
Gordhan said, “An additional allocation of R813 million for early childhood development is proposed to increase the number of children in ECD centres by 104 000 over the MTEF period.”
The National Student Financial Aid Scheme will also get an assistance of R14.3 billion – a much-needed injection following the Fees Must Fall protests by students over tuition fees.
The health sector has been allocated R168.4 billion, an increase of R11.1 million from last year’s R157.3 billion.
The district health services will receive R75 billion while provincial hospital services have been allocated R29.4 billion.
The minister said, “Health financing is complex, because the demands unavoidably exceed available funds. This is the case even in advanced rich countries.”
He added that, “An additional R740 million has been allocated to strengthen TB programmes to encourage early detection and treatment, and R1 billion for expansion of the antiretroviral treatment programme.”
The social protection, which includes old-age grants and child-support grants, has been allocated a total of R167.5 billion.
Last year, the social protection sector had been allocated R155.3 billion.
The old-age grant will receive an injection of R58.9 billion while the child-support grant will receive R52 billion.
He said, “The old age, disability and care dependency grants will rise by R80 to R1,500 in April 2016, and by a further R10 to R1,510 in October. At the same time, the child support grant will rise by R20 to R350 in April and the foster care grant by R30 to R890.”
Meanwhile, the disability grant is allocated R20.4 billion.
PUBLIC DEFENCE AND SAFETY
With the recent police killings and police brutality case, this sector is one of the few that draws the most attention from Gordhan’s speech, as South African await to see how the money allocated to it will be used to make the country a safer place.
The finance minister has put aside a total of R181.5 billion for public defence and safety. This money will be split between police services at R87.5 billion, defence and state security at R52.3 billion and
Law courts and prisons at R 41.7 billion.
ECONOMIC AFFAIRS AND AGRICULTURE
The economic affairs have been allocated a total of R238.4 billion, an increase from last year’s R206.2.
The science, technology, innovation and the environment will take R19.9 billion from that portion while employment, labour affairs and social security funds will get R73.1 billion.
Agriculture, rural development and land reform will then be handed R26.4 billion.