Five thousand jobs unlocked in the oceans economy; R8 billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes up to R600 000, and the provision of social grants to just under 17 million South Africans who need them the most. These are just some of the ways in which South Africa is moving forward, and these achievements or targets are the T&Cs of the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) – or “mini-Budget” – as it is popularly known recently presented to Parliament by the Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan.
The “mini-Budget” reflects the key decisions taken by Cabinet to balance economic growth and social priorities in the country at a time when our own economy and the global economy remain in stormy seas.
This Budget spells out how government will spend money in the coming three years and gives us an impression of the better future we are hoping to create as government, business, labour and civil society work together.
At the same time, this update of the Budget first presented in February also reflects the progress made across government since the start of the financial year on 1 April 2016 in using public resources to create a better life for all South Africans.
As part of our Oceans Phakisa – a mega-project to explore and exploit the economic value of our 3 000km shoreline –
5 000 jobs have been unlocked in the oceans economy. This has been made possible by the investment of some R17 billion in a sector where government has issued licences for oil and gas exploration to stimulate growth.
This achievement tells us that our country has the necessary skills, technology and partnership between government and the private sector to succeed in a venture on this scale.
Government will be making available a further R9 billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme over the period ahead. This will increase its funding by nearly 20 percent a year.
We will also be spending more than R8 billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes up to R600 000, or R50 000 a month.
My thanks goes to all South Africans – including our 1.3 million public servants – whose hard work and goodwill are shaping our good story.
Major infrastructure programmes over the next three years include over R300 billion in transport and logistics projects, R240 billion in the energy sector and R137 billion in water and sanitation – all of which will be examples where money spent by government creates opportunities in the private sector and ultimately leads to more South Africans being employed.
The documents behind the Budget tell us how, across government, we are making a positive difference in the lives of ordinary South Africans.
The Department of Social Development reports that by the end of September 2016, 16.9 million beneficiaries were receiving social grants.
The department exceeded its annual target for the screening of persons working with children against the child protection register, with 61 245 persons being screened by the end of the first half of 2016/17. This a great source of comfort for parents concerned about the safety of children who are entrusted to care by other people daily.
The Department of Health reports that 3.45 million patients continued to receive antiretroviral treatment at the end of July 2016. Although lower than anticipated in relation to the target, the number is expected to rise from September 2016 onwards, when the universal test and treat approach was implemented.
This method has been proven to significantly reduce the chance of an HIV-positive person passing the virus to others when they are on treatment and their viral loads are undetectable.
From the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development we learn that the number of criminal cases on the backlog roll in the lower courts was 27 357 against the annual target of 31 942.
The department is on course to surpass its annual target due to the improvement of collaboration and engagement with other departments in the justice, crime prevention and security cluster.
From the same cluster, the Asset Forfeiture Unit reports that it has, in the past six months, completed 213 cases involving assets valued at R263.7 million and obtained 128 freezing orders to the value of R187.1 million. For the value of completed forfeiture cases, the unit has surpassed the annual target of R230 million, mainly due to the finalisation of high-value cases.
There are many other examples from departments that show that the Budget tells the story of a South Africa changing for the better day by day.