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More jobs, better living conditions

Written by Mbulelo Baloyi

The budget

Government continues to make good progress to create more jobs and improve the basic living conditions of South Africans. This was demonstrated when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan announced details of the Budget for the financial year starting in April 2011 and ending in March 2012.
Social protection

The largest part of the Budget allocation (R577, 3 billion) goes to social services. These include education, which gets R189 billion, followed by R147 billion for social protection.

Social protection includes grants for elderly people, disability grants, foster care grants, war veterans' grants and child support grants.

In addition to these grants, social protection also includes the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), occupational injury or workmen's compensation and the Road Accident Fund (RAF) for victims of road accidents.

Grants

Almost 15 million people in South Africa currently receive social grants. This number is set to increase as the child support grant has now been extended to children up to 18 years old.

Starting in April this year, the State's old age and disability grants will rise by between R20 and R60 to R1 160 a month, while the child support grant will increase from R250 to R260.

Human settlements

Government has allocated R122 billion to human settlements and R112 billion to health.

An amount of R73 billion has been allocated to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) over a period of three years to create more jobs.

Employment opportunities will include community-based projects, environmental and social programmes and maintenance of roads and infrastructure.

Land reform and agricultural development

An additional R2,2 billion has been allocated to land reform and agricultural development programmes.

These will focus on rural job creation and fighting poverty, as well as expanding agricultural production and improving food security.

Minister Gordhan said this would include a further R400 million for the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme and the Land Care Programme grant.

This funding will enable an additional 5 000 recruits to join the National Rural Youth Services corps.

Crime

In the fight against crime, government will start putting a process in place which will see an increase in police personnel from the present 190 000 to about 202 000 police officers by 2014. In addition, 103 new police stations will be built in rural areas throughout the country.

Further education and training

To improve education and skills development, government will spend an additional R1,4 billion on Further Education and Training (FET) over the next three years.

A total of almost R10 billion has been allocated to this sector for the new financial year. This additional allocation is expected to increase enrolment at FET colleges from about 198 000 recorded in 2010 to 315 000 in 2011.

Government, for the first time will also provide bursaries to FET students through the State Bursary Scheme. An amount of R5 billion has been set aside to enable an additional 120 600 needy learners to access tertiary education opportunities.