Finance Minister Trevor Manuel made members of the National Assembly laugh when he explained in his joking way what the amount of R2 trillion to be spent by government in the next three years looks like. "Madam Speaker," he said "That's a two followed by 12 zeros."
Manuel's budget again showed government's promise to fight poverty and inequality, create more jobs, fight crime and provide better education. This is because "we have a shared pledge to work together in action," he said.
The time was right that all South Africans should benefit from the social security system, he said. "The idea that human life is worth equal, is the main value that unites South Africans."
"A human being is a human being, there is no lesser human being," was the theme of his speech.
For the period 2007 to 2008, government has budgeted R534 billion.
Save for retirement
This will be used for employing more teachers, police officers, hospital staff and building infrastructure like roads and stadiums for the 2010 World Cup.
The state's old-age pension, disability and dependency grants have been increased by R50 to a maximum of R870 a month.
The child support grant has been increased by R10 to R200 a month, while the foster care grant rises from R590 to R620 a month.
One of the positive developments in this year's budget is the plan to introduce a scheme that will force every working person to save for retirement. This is to make sure that people are able to afford basic needs like food when they retire.
A total of R700 million has been put aside for bursaries for teacher training. Some of the R8,1 billion budgeted for education, will be used for no-fee schools, new classrooms, water and toilet facilities and the development of skills.
To speed up the process of building houses, the Department of Housing gets R32 billion for housing in the next three years.
A total of 250 000 people living with HIV and Aids will benefit from the R17 billion that has been budgeted for the country's HIV and Aids programme.
As usual, the losers in this year's budget are smokers and drinkers. A packet of a 20 cigarettes goes up by 60 cents, while a can of 340ml beer goes up by five cents.
- Ndivhuwo Khangale