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Budget digs deep for a better life - Albert Pule

Written by Albert Pule
South Africa’s R1.15 trillion budget for the 2013/14 financial year will be used to improve the lives of people, with significant amounts set aside to achieve this.

In this Budget we continue to in- vest in education, health, housing, public transport and social development – components of the social wage which add up to about 60 per cent of public expenditure,” Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said during his Budget Speech in Parliament.

Important budget allocations announced by the Minister include:

Healthcare

The health system was given R133.6 billion of the national budget. According to Minister Gordhan, the money will be used to complete building 1 967 health facilities and 49 nursing colleges across the country.

Infrastructure

R430 billion was allocated to build schools, hospitals, clinics, dams, water and sanitation projects, expand electricity networks and supply electricity to over a million new homes.

The money will also be used to build more courtrooms and prisons, as well as construct better bus, commuter rail and road links.

Social grants

Minister Gordhan announced that for the fi time child support grants would increase twice this year to R290 in April and R300 in October. Old age and disability grants rise from R1 200 a month to R1 260 from April. The foster care grant increases from R770 to R800.

Provinces

The nine provincial governments will share R338 billion, while conditional grants given to provinces and municipalities will total R77 billion.

The Minister said money would be set aside to employ more social workers and provide additional support to non-governmental organisations, which provide critical welfare services.
Provinces were also granted funds to expand HIV/ AID programmes and improve their TB diagnosis systems.

Education, sport and culture

These three areas will jointly get R233 billion in 2013/14. During this period the basic education sector is expected to focus on improving numeracy and literacy, expanding enrolment in Grade R and reducing school infrastructure backlogs. Together with the broader education infrastructure grant, R23.9 billion was allocated to provincial education departments for infrastructure over the next three years.