Development Indicators to help govt plan better

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cape Town - The findings of the 2009 Development Indicators would provide pointers for future government policies, says Minister in the Presidency for National Planning, Trevor Manuel.

"This 2009 publication is important because the data will also serve as a baseline of the 2009-2014 electoral mandate period," said Manuel at the release of the report, on Friday.

The report provides information on the impact of government programmes on the lives of ordinary South Africans.

Among others, the report found an increase in access to potable water, a 1 percent drop in the prevalence of HIV and AIDS, while recording a success in the fight against malaria.

"HIV and AIDS remain a challenge despite the findings of the 2007 antenatal survey which reflected a 1 percent reduction in HIV prevalence between 2006 and 2007, and a 2 percent reduction between 2005 and 2007.

"Key to this success are the voluntary counseling and testing centres and prevention of mother-to-child transmission services which are provided in more than 95 percent of the facilities," reads the report.

On education there was an increase in school attendance as well as the percentage of university students graduating in science, engineering and technology fields. The data indicates that from 1995 the qualifying rate of students in the specific fields have increased from 25.5 percent to 28.8 percent in 2007.

The report also found that the number of South Africans receiving social grants have increased to more than 13 million compared to 7.87 million in 2004/05.

However, Professor Haroon Bhorat, from the School of Economics and Development Policy Research Unit at the University of Cape Town, warned that advances relying heavily on social grants may be rendered unsustainable during the recession.

Bhorat said this was not only a threat to social stability but could undermine economic growth.

"When a country is in a high deficit scenario your ability to sustain social security payments is challenged immediately."

He said this will mean that government would likely be forced to make cuts in other areas to maintain the social security net at its current level.

The report further showed strides in terms of service delivery, and the number of subsidised houses continued to increase, as well as access to water, sanitation and electricity.

It also found that social cohesion was high, taking into account the recent elections.

"During periods of national elections, surveys show greater levels of public confidence in government institutions and in the future of the country.

"The general decline in public opinion on issues of race relations, confidence in the future for all races and in the country's direction as well as pride in the country, may have been influenced by specific incidents during the survey periods," found the report.

On the downside it found that the gap between the poor and the rich continued to widen, while land redistributions remained a challenge