Ministers welcome inclusive budget

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Cape Town – Economic Development Minister Ebrahim Patel says the 2017 Budget, tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday, is focussed on providing opportunities for those that are not part of the mainstream economy.

The Minister said this shortly after the Finance Minister tabled his Budget Speech in the National Assembly.

In his speech, the Minister said issues like anti-competitive business practices should be discouraged and dealt with harshly.

“I think this is a budget that says growth and transformation is necessary; what we used to call inclusive growth.

“And the budget says South Africa’s growth last year was lacklustre – half a percent – because of global factors, because of the drought, because of challenges of the domestic economy and we have to turn that around, we have to increase the rate of growth,” he said.

He welcomed the Minister’s stance on how better growth can be achieved.

“Of course there are fiscal means and the Minister of Finance laid that out – investment in infrastructure, in skills development, but it is also structural elements and the budget speech focused very strongly on things like competition, opening up the economy, tackling cartels and monopolies.

“So you are seeing here a determined programme by government to give young South Africans more opportunities, to bring those entrepreneurs from the townships into the economical mainstream.”

Health Minister, Dr Aaron Motsoaledi, also welcomed the announcement that a National Health Insurance (NHI) fund would be established.

“I think the biggest highlight on the budget on health is about NHI – taking the NHI fund forward – and establishing an NHI fund, which has been evading us because of the economic situation.

“He has mentioned very clearly that we are now going to establish that NHI fund to help four vulnerable groups. Firstly, pregnant women and adolescents in the form of antenatal care and family planning, then he mentioned school kids, physical barriers to learning like eyesight and oral hygiene.

“And then he mentioned people with disabilities, mentally-ill patients, elderly people. That is a very powerful statement and then he said we will review tax credit,” he said.

Higher Education

In his budget, Minister Gordhan announced that over and above the R32 billion that was allocated to higher education last year, funds have been provided to ensure that students from households that earn up to R600 000 do not pay university fee increases for 2017.

Higher Education and Training Deputy Minister Mduduzi Manana said the additional funds allocated to fund students in the sector were welcomed.

“We are quite happy, this is a significant contribution and it will certainly go a long away. Obviously, it is never enough to cover all the qualifying students who are from poor families who are academically deserving.

“So we are excited that there was an add-on, it is a major contribution. There is no programme of government that grows in this manner. It shows government is indeed serious about education. Government has made education its apex priority and these contributions are a testament to that,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za

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