Tags: chess FM Patrick Kawuma will be involved in a fierce battle against IM Arthur Ssegwanyi. (PHOTO/Courtesy)Chess enthusiasts will be treated to some scintillating action on board one on Sunday when defending champion FM Patrick Kawuma and former champion IM Arthur Ssegwanyi go head to head at the Rwabushenyi Memorial Open Chess Championship at Nob View Hotel, Ntinda.The tourney comes to it’s conclusion and two of the finest in the East African region will faceoff in the penultimate round.There is a lot at stake in this matchup: from bragging rights to elos to the championship itself, the two top seeded players in the region will each hope they own the day.The last time these two met at Rwabushenyi, spoils were shared. Kawuma can not allow a repeat of that if he is to equal FM Harold Wanyama’s record of three championships.Stopping Ssegwanyi has however, proved difficult at this tournament. The IM has already beaten FM Haruna Nsubuga, but if anyone can hurt the professional doctor, it is the defending champion.Ssegwanyi enters tomorrow’s game fired up following his perfect run at the Open. The rated 2335 has won all his first six games and remains the only player with a perfect run. He sits atop with 6 points and like his round seven opponent, is looking to win a third Rwabushenyi championship.Kawuma finds himself second after drawing with Innocent Kimera in the third round. Those were elos lost, but he can regain them with victory over his former DMARK teammate.For Kawuma to keep alive his hopes of winning a third successive championship, he needs to outsmart Ssegwanyi because a win for the latter will seal the title. Ssegwanyi will win Rwabushenyi with a round left to play if he beats Kawuma tomorrow.Comments
Donegal is in for more winter weather after a night of heavy snow and stormy conditions. Met Eireann has increased the Snow-Ice alert for Donegal, Cavan and Monaghan to Status Orange ahead of more incoming snowfall.An Atlantic depression is approaching Ireland today, bringing heavy participation that will turn into snow and sleet over Ulster in the current cold spell. Forecasters say snow showers are due to impact Donegal throughout the night and into Thursday morning. Ulster is set to be the worst-affected area for snow accumulations and we are in for another cold night with lows of 0 to +4 degrees celcius.The Status Orange warning comes into effect on Wednesday evening at 6pm until Thursday at 12noon.The strong winds of Storm Fionn have largely eased off for the north west, however a marine gale warning remains in place on all Irish coasts.Snow warning escalates with no let-up to cold snap was last modified: January 19th, 2018 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Met Eireannsnowweatherweather warning
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QPR are among the Championship clubs interested in Liverpool midfielder Luis Alberto, the Liverpool Echo say.Wolves and Aston Villa are also said to be interested in the 23-year-old, who can play through the middle or on the wing.He has not started a league match for Liverpool since being signed from Sevilla in 2013.He was expected to return to Sevilla this summer but that proposed move appears to have fallen through.Liverpool want £6m for him, the Echo say.Follow West London Sport on TwitterFind us on Facebook
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) is an organisation aimed at regional integration to promote economic growth, peace and security, create common political values, systems and institutions, alleviate poverty, build social and cultural ties between member states and enhance the standard of living in Southern Africa.It advocates sovereignty of its member states, the presence of human rights and the rule of law and peaceful settlement of disputes.The SADC headquarters are in Gaborone, Botswana.The following is a brief overview of the 14 SADC countries.AngolaBotswanaDemocratic Republic of the CongoLesothoMadagascarMalawiMauritiusMozambiqueNamibiaSouth AfricaSwazilandTanzaniaZambiaZimbabweAngolaSince Angola’s 27-year-long civil war ended in 2002 with the death of Unita leader Jonas Savimbi, the country has prospered, with its economy being fuelled by increased production of oil and diamonds.Capital: LuandaGeography: Angola has a total area of 1.2-million square kilometres and a population of around 12.3-million. The official language is Portuguese, while numerous other indigenous languages are also spoken.Natural resources: Petroleum, diamonds, iron ore, phosphates, copper, feldspar, gold, bauxite and uranium.Economy: Agricultural production includes bananas, sugarcane, coffee, sisal, corn, cotton, manioc (tapioca), tobacco, vegetables, plantains, livestock, forest products and fish.Major industries include petroleum, diamonds, gold, uranium, iron ore, feldspar, bauxite, phosphates, cement, basic metal products, ship repair, textiles, brewing, tobacco products, fish processing, food processing and sugar.GDP is estimated at US$28.37-billion at the official exchange rate and $51.95-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 14%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $4 300.Useful linksInvest in AngolaAngola PressBotswanaUninterrupted civilian rule since independence 1966, progressive social policies and significant capital investment has turned Botswana into one of the continent’s leading economies.Capital: GaboroneGeography: Botswana has a total area of 600 370 square kilometres, 15 000 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of 1.8-million, with the official language being English. Other languages include Setswana, Kalanga and Sekgalagadi.Natural resources: Diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, coal, iron ore and silver.Economy: Agricultural production includes livestock, sorghum, maize, millet, beans, sunflowers and groundnuts.Major industries include diamonds, copper, nickel, salt, soda ash, potash, livestock processing and textiles.GDP is estimated at US$9.69-billion at the official exchange rate and $18.72-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 4.7%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $11 400.Useful linksGovernment of BotswanaBotswana Development CorporationTourism of BotswanaDemocratic Republic of the CongoThe resource-rich DRC is slowly rebuilding following several years of civil war and dictatorship before that, with general elections being held 2006. Since the end of the elections, DRC President Joseph Kabila has been active in courting for investments. Capital: Kinshasa Geography: The DRC has a total area of 2.3-million square kilometres, 77 810 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of around 65.7-million and the official language is French. Other major languages include Lingala, Kingwana (a dialect of Swahili), Kikongo and Tshiluba. Natural resources: Cobalt, copper, niobium, tantalum, petroleum, industrial and gem diamonds, gold, silver, zinc, manganese, tin, uranium, coal, timber and hydropower. Economy: Agricultural production includes coffee, sugar, palm oil, rubber, tea, quinine, cassava (tapioca), palm oil, bananas, root crops, corn, fruits and wood products.Major industries include mining (diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan and zinc), mineral processing, consumer products (including textiles, footwear, cigarettes, processed foods and beverages), cement and commercial ship repair.GDP is estimated at US$8.06-billion at the official exchange rate and $44.6-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 7.5%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $700.Useful linksDRC Permanent Mission to the UNUN Mission in DRCFriends of the CongoCongo PagesLesothoOriginally known as Basutoland, the country was renamed as the Kingdom of Lesotho on independence from the United Kingdom in 1966. Being entirely surrounded by South African territory, the two countries have strong economic and cultural links.Capital: MaseruGeography: Lesotho has a total area of 30 355 square kilometres, with a population of 2.1-million. Languages spoken in Lesotho include English, Sesotho, Zulu and Xhosa.Natural resources: Water, agricultural and grazing land, diamonds, sand, clay and building stone.Economy: Agricultural production includes corn, wheat, pulses, sorghum, barley and livestock.Major industries include food, beverages, textiles, apparel assembly, handicrafts, construction and tourism.GDP is estimated at US$1.42-billion at the official exchange rate and $5.19-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 1.7%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $2 600.Useful linksLesotho GovernmentTransformation Resource Centre LesothoLesotho Tourism Development CorporationMadagascarFormerly an independent kingdom, Madagascar became a French colony in 1896, but regained its independence in 1960. Open elections in 1992/93 ended 17 years of single-party rule.Capital: AntananarivoGeography: Madagascar has a total area of 587 040 square kilometres, 5 500 square kilometres of which is covered with water. It has a population of 19.4-million and the languages spoken include French and Malagasy.Natural resources: Graphite, chromites, coal, bauxite, salt, quartz, tar sands, semiprecious stones, mica, fish and hydropower.Economy: Agricultural production includes coffee, vanilla, sugarcane, cloves, cocoa, rice, cassava (tapioca), beans, bananas, peanuts and livestock products.Major industries include meat processing, seafood, soap, breweries, tanneries, sugar, textiles, glassware, cement, automobile assembly plant, paper, petroleum and tourism.GDP is estimated at US$5.09-billion at the official exchange rate and $17.27-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 5.5%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $900.Useful linksGovernment of MadagascarMadagascar LibraryMadagascar WildlifeMalawiOriginally established in 1891 as the British protectorate of Nyasaland, it became Malawi following independence in 1964. The first free elections were held in 1994 following three decades of one-party rule.Capital: LilongweGeography: Malawi has a total area of 118 480 square kilometres, 24 400 square kilometres of which is covered by water, and has a population of 13.6-million. Languages spoken include Chichewa, Chinyanja, Chiyao and Chitumbuka.Natural resources: Limestone, arable land, hydropower, coal, bauxite and unexploited deposits of uranium.Economy: Agricultural production includes tobacco, sugarcane, cotton, tea, corn, potatoes, cassava (tapioca), sorghum, pulses, groundnuts, Macadamia nuts, cattle and goats.Major industries include tobacco, tea, sugar, sawmill products, cement and consumer goods.GDP is estimated at US$2.17-billion at the official exchange rate and $8.03-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 7%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $600.Useful linksGovernment of MalawiMalawi Tourism GuideMauritiusA stable democracy with regular free elections and a positive human rights record, Mauritius attracts considerable foreign investment and earns one of Africa’s highest per capita incomes.Capital: Port LouisGeography: Mauritius has a total area of 2 040 square kilometres, 10 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of 1.2-million and the languages spoken on the island include Creole, Bhojpuri, French and English.Natural resources: Arable land and fish.Economy: Agricultural production includes sugarcane, tea, corn, potatoes, bananas, pulses, cattle, goats and fish.Major industries include food processing (largely sugar milling), textiles, clothing, mining, chemicals, metal products, transport equipment, non-electrical machinery and tourism.GDP is estimated at US$7.13-billion at the official exchange rate and $16.72-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 4.3%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $13 500.Useful linksGovernment of MauritiusMauritius Investment Promotion AgencyDiscover MauritiusMozambiqueSince the end of fighting between Frelimo and Renamo in 1992, Mozambique has prospered following the government’s use of policies favourable to attracting foreign investment.Capital: MaputoGeography: Mozambique has a total area of 801 590 square kilometres, 17 500 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of 20.9-million and major languages spoken in the country include Portuguese, Emakhuwa, Xichangana, Elomwe, Cisena and Echuwabo.Natural resources: Coal, titanium, natural gas, hydropower, tantalum and graphite.Economy: Agricultural production includes cotton, cashew nuts, sugarcane, tea, cassava (tapioca), corn, coconuts, sisal, citrus and tropical fruits, potatoes, sunflowers, beef and poultry.Major industries include food, beverages, chemicals (fertilizer, soap, paints), aluminium, petroleum products, textiles, cement, glass, asbestos and tobacco.GDP is estimated at US$6.43-billion at the official exchange rate and $29.32-billion using purchasing power parity (PPP). Annual economic growth is estimated to be 9.8%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $1 500.Useful linksGovernment of MozambiqueNational Petroleum InstituteNamibiaSince gaining its independence from South Africa in 1990, Namibia has moved from strength to strengh, capitalising on its natural resources and its close links to Germany.Capital: WindhoekGeography: Namibia has a total area of 825 418 square kilometres and a population of 2.1-million. Languages spoken in the country include English, Afrikaans, German, Oshivambo, Herero and Nama.Natural resources: Diamonds, copper, uranium, gold, silver, lead, tin, lithium, cadmium, tungsten, zinc, salt, hydropower and fish. There are also suspected deposits of oil, coal, and iron ore.Economy: Agricultural production includes millet, sorghum, peanuts, grapes, livestock and fish.Major industries include meatpacking, fish processing, dairy products and mining (diamonds, lead, zinc, tin, silver, tungsten, uranium, copper).GDP is estimated at US$5.30-billion at the official exchange rate and $15.04-billion using purchasing power parity. Annual economic growth is estimated to be 4.1%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $7 400.Useful linksGovernment of Namibia NetworkNamibia Trade DirectoryNamibia Tourism BoardSouth AfricaSouth Africa is the largest economy on the African continent, and sound economic policies have ensured that the country is currently going through its longest ever period of uninterupted economic growth.Capital: Pretoria (administrative), Cape Town (legislative) and Bloemfontein (judicial)Geography: South Africa has a total area of 1.2-million square kilometres and has a population of around 44-million. Major languages spoken include Zulu, Xhosa, Afrikaans, Sepedi, English, Setswana and Sesotho.Natural resources: Gold, chromium, antimony, coal, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, tin, uranium, gem diamonds, platinum, copper, vanadium, salt and natural gas.Economy: Agricultural production includes corn, wheat, sugarcane, fruits, vegetables, beef, poultry, mutton, wool and dairy products.Major industries include mining, automobile assembly, metalworking, machinery, textiles, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizer, foodstuffs and commercial ship repair.GDP is estimated at US$200.5-billion at the official exchange rate and $576.4-billion using purchasing power parity. Annual economic growth is estimated to be 4.5%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $13 000.Useful linksSouth African GovernmentGovernment Communication and Information SystemSouthAfrica.infoDepartment of Trade and IndustrySouth African TourismSwazilandThe sole absolute monarchy in Africa, Swaziland is closely linked to South Africa economically and culturally.Capital: MbabaneGeography: Swaziland has a total area of 17 363 square kilometres, 160 square kilometresof which is covered by water. It has a population of 1.1-million and the languages spoken include English and SiSwati.Natural resources: Asbestos, coal, clay, cassiterite, hydropower, forests, small gold and diamond deposits, quarry stone and talc.Economy: Agricultural production includes sugarcane, cotton, corn, tobacco, rice, citrus, pineapples, sorghum, peanuts, cattle, goats and sheep.Major industries include coal, wood pulp, sugar, soft drink concentrates, textile and apparel.GDP is estimated at US$2.21-billion at the official exchange rate and $5.91-billion using purchasing power parity. Annual economic growth is estimated to be 2%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $5 500.Useful linksGovernment of SwazilandSwaziland Chambers of CommerceSwaziland Tourism AuthorityTanzaniaHome to Africa’s highest peak, Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is largely dependent on agriculture for employment. In addition, a considerable area of the country is wildlife habitat, including a large part of the Serengeti plain.Capital: Dar es SalaamGeography: Tanzania has a total area of 945 087 square kilometres, 59 050 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a total population of 39.3-million and languages spoken include Swahili, English and Arabic.Natural resources: Hydropower, tin, phosphates, iron ore, coal, diamonds, gemstones, gold, natural gas and nickel.Economy: Agricultural production includes coffee, sisal, tea, cotton, pyrethrum (insecticide made from chrysanthemums), cashew nuts, tobacco, cloves, corn, wheat, cassava (tapioca), bananas, fruits, vegetables, cattle, sheep and goats.Major industries include agricultural processing (sugar, beer, cigarettes, sisal twine), diamond, gold, and iron mining, salt, soda ash; cement, oil refining, shoes, apparel, wood products and fertilizer.GDP is estimated at US$13.13-billion at the official exchange rate and $29.25-billion using purchasing power parity. Annual economic growth is estimated to be 5.8%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $800.Useful linksGovernment of TanzaniaTanzania Development GatewayTanzania Tourist BoardZambiaDrained by both the Congo River basin and the Zambesi River basin, Zambia has for long been linked with the copper mining industry, following its fortunes. To lessen dependence on copper, the government is aiming to diversify the economy in areas such as tourism, agriculture and hydro-power.Capital: LusakaGeography: Zambia has a total area of 752 614 square kilometres, 11 890 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of 11.4-million and major languages spoken include English, Bemba, Kaonda, Lozi, Lunda, Luvale, Nyanja and Tonga.Natural resources: Copper, cobalt, zinc, lead, coal, emeralds, gold, silver, uranium and hydropower.Economy: Agricultural production includes corn, sorghum, rice, peanuts, sunflower seed, vegetables, flowers, tobacco, cotton, sugarcane, cassava (tapioca), coffee, cattle, goats, pigs, poultry, milk, eggs and hides.Major industries include copper mining and processing, construction, foodstuffs, beverages, chemicals, textiles, fertilizer and horticulture.GDP is estimated at US$5.80-billion at the official exchange rate and $11.51-billion using purchasing power parity. Annual economic growth is estimated to be 6%. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $1 000.Useful linksZambian GovernmentZambia Business DirectoryZambia National Tourist BoardZimbabweZimbabwe is rich in natural resources, and during non-drought years is able to produce enough to supply its electricity needs through hydro-electric power. Despite the recent economic downturn, the country continues to attract investment from the likes of China and India.Capital: HarareGeography: Zimbabwe has a total area of 390 580 square kilometres, 3 910 square kilometres of which is covered by water. It has a population of 12.3-million and major languages spoken include English, Shona and Sindebele.Natural resources: Coal, chromium ore, asbestos, gold, nickel, copper, iron ore, vanadium, lithium, tin and platinum group metals.Economy: Agricultural production includes corn, cotton, tobacco, wheat, coffee, sugarcane, peanuts, sheep, goats and pigs.Major industries include mining (coal, gold, platinum, copper, nickel, tin, clay, numerous metallic and non-metallic ores), steel, wood products, cement, chemicals, fertilizer, clothing and footwear, foodstuffs and beverages.GDP is estimated at US$3.14-billion at the official exchange rate and $25.05-billion using purchasing power parity. Due to the events of recent years, the economy is estimated to be contracting by 4.4% per year. GDP per capita (PPP) is estimated at $2 000.Useful linksZimbabwean GovernmentZimbabwe Investment Centre
18 July 2013 Nelson Mandela’s daughter, Zindzi Mandela, received the former president’s new smart ID card at an event to celebrate his 95th birthday at the Union Buildings in Pretoria on Thursday. Mandela remains in hospital after having been admitted on 8 June to receive treatment for a recurring lung infection. Doctors have confirmed that his health is steadily improving. Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe and Home Affairs Minister Naledi Pandor handed over the ID to Zindzi on his behalf. Speaking to SANews shortly after receiving the new ID on behalf of her father, Zindzi said she was happy that Madiba was one of the first people to get the new ID. “I’m going to give it to him and I am certain he would be very much happy,” she said, adding that the family was overwhelmed by the recognition that people are giving to Madiba. She also thanked all South Africans who are praying for Madiba. One of the recipients of the new ID, senior citizen Gogo Bethuna Moteane told SANews that she was happy with the new ID. She said she would use her ID to receive her grant. “I will keep it safe,” she said. Pandor announced the introduction of the new smart ID cards during her department’s budget vote in Parliament earlier this year. The new IDs, which will be issued free to all first-time applicants, can be used in next year’s elections. Also receiving the new IDs were the “Mandela generation” – those who were involved in the struggle against the apartheid regime during Mandela’s time. These included Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, former President Thabo Mbeki, former Parliament Speaker Frene Ginwala, struggle stalwart Andrew Mlangeni and Sophie de Bruyn, who led the women’s march against apartheids pass laws to the Union Buildings in 1956. Senior citizens over 100 years old also received their new IDs. Former President FW de Klerk was listed as one the recipients of the new ID but could not make Thursday’s event due to ill health. The event, which included cutting a birthday cake for Madiba, was also attended by Madiba’s family representatives. As part of celebrating Madiba’s birthday, South Africans have been requested to spend 67 minutes of their time serving or helping other people. Source: SANews.gov.za
Read the full text of South African Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s inaugural national Budget speech, the fifth in the country’s democratic Parliament, delivered on 25 February 2015. South Africa’s Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene. (Image: Department of Communications) • Watch: South Africa’s 2015 Budget speech• Nene walks a tightrope • South Africa’s economy grows by 4.1% • Infographic: The State of the Nation, in numbers • State of the Nation Address 2015: full speech I have the honour to present the first budget of our fifth democratic Parliament.Over the past 20 years we have built houses, delivered water and electricity, improved access to schools and health care. Yet there are people living in shacks, there are schools without sanitation, there are patients without care.We have made progress in dismantling apartheid divisions. Yet there are still fault-lines across our social landscape. We have agreed on a National Development Plan. But there is still hard work ahead in its implementation. Though we continue to register positive growth rates, many businesses have struggled to maintain profitability, unemployment remains high and government has had to adjust to slower revenue growth.Today’s budget is constrained by the need to consolidate our public finances, in the context of slower growth and rising debt.And so we must intensify efforts to address economic constraints, improve our growth performance, create work opportunities and broaden economic participation. We need to achieve these goals if our National Development Plan is to be realised.On the one hand, our development path is limited by the resource constraints of the current economic outlook. On the other hand, it seeks to lift these constraints by strengthening public institutions, investing in infrastructure and our people, supporting innovation and making markets work better. The 2015 budget is aimed at rebalancing fiscal policy to give greater impetus to investment, to support enterprise development, to promote agriculture and industry and to make our cities engines of growth.Strategic priorities for growth and developmentAs outlined by President Zuma in the State of the Nation Address on 12 February, Cabinet has agreed on nine strategic priorities to be pursued this year, in partnership with the private sector and all stakeholders. They include:Resolving the energy challengeRevitalising agricultureAdding value to our mineral wealthEnhancement of the Industrial Policy Action PlanEncouragement of private investmentReducing workplace conflictUnlocking the potential of small enterprisesInfrastructure investmentSupport for implementation of the National Development Plan through in-depth, results-driven processes, known as Phakisa laboratories. The first of these laboratories focused on the oceans economy, including off-shore oil and gas exploration and aquaculture opportunities. Already this has led to investment of R9.6-billion in Saldanha Bay.Strategies for improving primary health clinics have also been developed through a phakisa process. The mining sector will be next. These processes draw widely on the talents and expertise of South Africans, from the public and private sectors, and the scientific and research community.In each of these areas, there are many programmes and interventions underway, and numerous stakeholders and institutions involved. Members of the House will appreciate, however, that having a plan and a series of activities is not enough. Intensive effort has to go into the details of implementation, understanding the risks and opportunities of changing market conditions as well as identifying institutional and financial options.There are many possible plans and priorities: the challenge of governance is to choose wisely between competing alternatives. The budget plays a role in clarifying these options, probing their costs and assessing implementation modalities. It seeks to allocate resources systematically and fairly. This year, we received around 400 tips from fellow South Africans on the budget.Quite rightly, there are two main areas of concern.Many people have concerns about public service delivery. For example, Asif Jhatham advises that municipalities should follow SARS in adopting electronic payments systems. Marc de Chalain appeals for an improved work ethic and pride in a job well done in the public service. Mpumelelo Ncwadi suggests that youth-owned cooperatives should be supported to produce lettuce and herbs for local hospitals and schools.And then there is much advice to me on tax matters. Christopher Pappas suggests that fast foods should be subject to sin tax. Mandy Morris says it is time VAT was increased to 15%. On the other hand, Thabile Wonci proposes that young professionals should be exempt from tax for at least one year of work.I will return shortly to these tax questions.The budget documents I table today are designed to make our budget choices and their implications transparent. The processes which follow in this House, bringing medium term plans and programmes under the scrutiny of portfolio committees and subjecting Ministers and officials to Parliamentary accountability, are essential disciplines in the translation of plans into service delivery programmes. And so in presenting this Budget to Members of the House, I am obliged to caution that it again comprises a weighty set of documents and explanatory papers. Members who feel that the burden of after-hours reading is excessive are referred to my predecessors, Minister Gordhan and former Minister Manuel, who oversaw the of these instruments of accountability.Thankfully their advice to me is that it does not all have to be incorporated into the budget speech.Allow me therefore to recommend this year’s Budget Review for the further attention of Members. It is somewhat differently structured from the past. There is a new chapter on the financial position of public sector entities, and an annexure on progress in infrastructure spending.Economic contextI turn now to the economic context within which the budget has been prepared. Global economic growth is expected to remain sluggish over the period ahead, rising from 3.3% in 2014 to 3.5% this year. There is considerable variation in economic performances between countries and economic trends are likely to be volatile. In the United States, 3.6% growth is expected this year, but in Europe the outlook remains weak, and could still be destabilised by disagreements between debtor and creditor nations. In emerging markets and developing economies, growth of about 4.5% is expected. China’s growth is expected to slow to 6.8% this year. Amongst our neighbours in Africa, the recent shifts in commodity prices will benefit some countries and disadvantage others.South Africa will benefit from the lower oil price, but our major commodity exports have been negatively affected by the global slowdown. Our deepening trade and investment links with sub-Saharan Africa continue to offer favourable growth prospects. Exports to Africa grew by 19% in 2013 and 11% in 2014. However, our primary challenge is to deal with the structural and competitiveness challenges that hold back production and investment in our economy.The most important of these is the security and reliability of energy supply. Electricity hold back growth in manufacturing and mining, and also inhibit investment in housing and raise costs for businesses and households. Mainly for this reason, our projected economic growth for 2015 is just 2%, down from 2.5% indicated in October last year. We expect growth to rise to 3% by 2017. Consumer price inflation peaked at 6.6% in June last year.It has subsequently declined to just 4.4% last month, and is expected to average 4.3% in 2015, laying a foundation for economic growth. Higher growth is possible, if we make good progress in responding to the electricity challenge or if export performance is stronger. The best short-term prospects for faster growth lie in less energy-intensive sectors such as tourism, agriculture, light manufacturing and housing construction. These are also sectors that employ more people, and so they contribute to more inclusive growth. Efforts to support these sectors have to be intensified.Progress in agriculture and manufacturing employment requires a constructive labour relations environment, and well-targeted support for emerging enterprises. While the manufacturing sector has largely underperformed in recent years, there has been an encouraging growth in investment since 2010, particularly in upgrading machinery and equipment. The turnaround in footwear and textiles is also welcome, and should boost job creation over the period ahead. In agriculture we have seen investment and export growth in horticultural products such as grapes, citrus and tree nuts.Tourism and related services, oil and gas development, communications and information technology also offer many opportunities. Although our fiscal position is constrained, there are considerable financial strengths on which South Africa’s growth strategy can build.Interest rates have remained moderate, which reflects the credibility of fiscal and monetary policy and the favourable inflation outlook. The capital market rates at which government and the corporate sector borrow have declined over the past year, signalling continued investor confidence in the South African economy.The exchange rate depreciated by 11% against the US dollar in 2014, after declining by 15% in 2013. This coupled with low inflation contributes to our trade competitiveness, and partially offsets the deterioration in commodity prices.Our banks and other financial institutions are well-capitalised. South Africa has a buoyant capital market, is open to foreign investors and is a major contributor to foreign direct investment elsewhere in Africa. Our company law and tax frameworks are robust, and we have excellent property market institutions.The first phase of implementation of the National Development Plan is elaborated in Government’s medium term strategic framework. If we remain united and energized around its implementation – government, labour, business and all South Africans – we will continue to make progress towards a just and prosperous future.Budget framework and fiscal policyA sound budget framework is one of the enabling conditions for implementation of the National Development Plan. It has now been eight years since the global financial crisis began. In responding to low economic growth, government allowed for continued expenditure growth and a wider budget deficit to cushion the economy from a potential hard landing, resulting in an increased debt burden on the state. Fiscal room created during the economic boom leading up to the financial crisis cushioned against tax increases as a first response.Our fiscal rebalancing has included cost containment measures and intensified efforts to improve efficiency in expenditure. These measures are yielding positive results. However, growth performance remains weak and substantial repayments of debt are becoming due. It is now clear that we can no longer postpone consideration of additional revenue measures. In choosing amongst our tax options, the financial health of households and businesses is a primary consideration.As indicated in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, the key features of the budget framework for the period ahead are as follows:A reduction in the main budget expenditure ceiling of about R25-billion over the next two years, compared with the 2014 Budget baseline,An increase in taxes amounting to R17-billion in 2015/16,Revised spending plans across the whole of government, aimed at greater efficiency, reduced waste and an improved composition of spending,A consolidation of government personnel numbers, andFinancing of state-owned companies, where required, without raising national government’s budget deficit.In the budget framework tabled today, a consolidated deficit of 3.9% of GDP is projected for 2015/16, falling to 2.5% in 2017/18.Consolidated non-interest expenditure will rise from R1.123 trillion this year to R1.4 trillion in 2017/18, which is an average real increase of 2.1% a year. The share of personnel compensation is projected to remain about 40% of noninterest spending. Interest on state debt will rise from R115-billion this year to R153-billion in 2017/18.Reductions in budget allocations have been targeted at non-critical activities. Cost containment and reprioritisation measures will limit growth in allocations for goods and services to 5% a year. Spending on catering, entertainment and venues is budgeted to decline by 8% a year, travel and subsistence will be cut back by 4% a year, in real terms. But allocations for critical items such as school books and medicine, for police vehicles’ fuel and for maintenance of infrastructure, will grow faster than inflation.Compliance will be reported by the auditor-general.The budget framework includes an unallocated contingency reserve of R5-billion next year, R15-billion in 2016/17 and R45-billion in 2017/18. This could allow for new spending priorities to be accommodated in future budgets. It takes into account that the economic outlook is uncertain and that both weaker growth and rising interest rates are possible over the period ahead. We are also mindful that public service salary negotiations have still to be concluded. We hope that agreement will be reached in time for salary improvements to be implemented in April.Over the next three years, government’s gross debt stock is projected to increase by about R550-billion, to R2.3 trillion in 2017/18. Redemptions on debt issued over the past decade will add R190-billion to the medium term borrowing requirement. Net loan debt of the national government is expected to stabilise at less than 45% of GDP in three years’ time. South Africa’s liquid capital market and our standing in international markets enable us to meet this borrowing requirement. But we are mindful that debt sustainability requires a prudent budget framework and improvements in both saving and investment.Our fiscal policy stance recognises that state-owned companies and municipalities will continue to face substantial investment requirements over the period ahead. Moderation in the main budget deficit creates space in the wider capital market for infrastructure financing of both the wider public sector and private businesses. In addressing these and other fiscal challenges, government is firmly resolved to steer a responsible and sustainable course.Medium term expenditure and the division of revenueOur Constitution requires an equitable division of nationally collected revenue between national, provincial and local government. This is set out in the Division of Revenue Bill and its accompanying Explanatory Memorandum. The allocations are explained in the Budget Review and elaborated in the Estimates of National Expenditure.In preparing these proposals, we have benefited from recommendations of the Financial and Fiscal Commission and Parliament’s committees. As is required by section 7 of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009, a report is included in the Budget Review which responds to concerns raised by the finance and appropriations committees, and in portfolio committees’ budgetary review and recommendation reports. We greatly appreciate these contributions of Parliament to the rigour and integrity of our budget process.The national share of non-interest expenditure is about 48%, provinces receive 43% and 9% goes to municipalities.Allocations to basic services provided by municipalities have been prioritised, despite the constraints of the budget framework. A new approach is proposed for cities, to support their growth and restructuring and strengthen infrastructure investment. A review of local government infrastructure grants is in progress, which will lead to simplification and consolidation of the financing arrangements.Over the longer term, progress in municipalities requires local economic growth, property development and revenue capacity, alongside national support. These are key elements in the “back to basics” municipal development strategy.Economic developmentOur support through the budget for economic development is wide-ranging, as it must be if we are to diversify our growth and broaden participation. Innovation and technology change are at the heart of this development strategy. Support for the oceans economy has been allocated R296-million over the next three years. This will enhance our climate change research and management of ocean resources. South African science and technology also continues to benefit from our leading role in the Square Kilometre Array astronomy partnership, which will spend approximately R2.1-billion over the next three years. Minister Pandor is guiding our science councils towards more effective partnerships with industry and academic institutions.R2.7-billion has been allocated over the medium term under the Mineral Policy and Promotion programme to promote investment in mining and petroleum beneficiation projects. R108-million has been allocated for research and regulatory requirements for licensing shale gas exploration and hydraulic fracturing.Government will continue to strengthen support for agricultural development and trade, under Minister Zokwana. The projected conditional allocation to provinces over the medium term is R7-billion. Access of emerging farmers to finance will be expanded, in collaboration with the Land Bank.Since the inception of the recapitalisation and development programme in 2008, 1 459 farms have been supported, and 4.3-million hectares has been acquired for redistribution. A further 1.2-million hectares will be acquired over the next three years, and R4.7-billion is allocated for recapitalisation and development of farms. Establishment of the Office of the Valuer-General in Minister Nkwinti’s department will assist in the orderly implementation of land acquisition and redistribution activities.Employment and enterprise developmentUnemployment remains our single greatest economic and social challenge. Government continues to prioritise measures aimed at generating employment. These include tax incentives for employment and investment, support for enterprise development, skills development and employment programmes.R10.2-billion has been allocated over the MTEF period to manufacturing development incentives and support for growing service industries, such as business process outsourcing. Under Minister Davies’ oversight, the manufacturing competitiveness enhancement programme will spend R5.4-billion and will assist 1 450 companies with financial support to upgrade facilities and skills development. Special economic zones are allocated R3.5-billion over the medium term, mainly for infrastructure development. The work of Minister Hanekom’s department in promoting tourism continues to be supported. Over the MTEF period, Minister Zulu’s new Department will spend R3.5-billion on mentoring and training support to small businesses.The Jobs Fund will spend R4-billion in partnership with the private sector on projects that create new employment, support work-seekers and address structural constraints to more inclusive growth. The community work programme will be extended to all municipalities. Its allocations increase by 21% a year. The Department of Environmental Affairs has an allocation of R11.8-billion to fund more than 107 000 full time equivalent jobs and 224 000 work opportunities through environmental EPWP programmes.A total of R590-million has been allocated to the Green Fund over the medium term, for strategic environmental projects in partnership with the private sector.Health and social protectionExpenditure on health and social protection will continue to grow steadily, contributing to better life expectancy and household income security. Health spending will reach R178-billion in 2017/18. We have seen a marked reduction in child mortality over the past five years, supported by improved access to antenatal services.Our antiretroviral treatment programme now reaches 3-million patients. The motherto- child transmission of HIV has decreased from 20% a decade ago to 2% last year, and is expected to decline further over the period ahead. In this budget, R1.5-billion is shifted from provincial budgets to the national Department of Health to enable the National Institute of Communicable Diseases to be directly funded. This will be offset by lower tariffs for services provided by the National Health Laboratory Service. Port health services have also been shifted from provinces to the national department.The Office of Health Standards Compliance has been listed as an independent legal entity with a budget rising to R125-million in 2017/18. Under Minister Motsoaledi’s direction there has been progress over the past year in preparing for the transition to national health insurance. A discussion paper on financing options will be released shortly by the National Treasury, to accompany the NHI white paper.I have also agreed with Ministers Dlamini and Oliphant that we will jointly publish the long-outstanding discussion paper on social security reform. Both health insurance and social security are vital concerns of all South Africans, and we look forward to public debate and engagement between stakeholders. Social grants play an important role in protecting the poorest households against poverty. Social assistance beneficiaries numbered 16.4-million in December 2014. In order to accommodate the growth in numbers, the budget proposals include an additional R7.1-billion on the Social Development vote.I am also pleased to be able to announce adjustments to monthly social grants with effect from 1 April:The old age, war veterans, disability and care dependency grants will increase by R60 to R1 410.Child support grants increase to R330.Foster care grants increase by R30 to R860.In consultation with the Department of Social Development and taking into account consumer price inflation, we will review the possibility of further adjustments to grant values in October.Education, sport and cultureOver R640-billion will be allocated to basic education during the next three years.Under Minister Motshekga’s oversight, personnel planning for schools is currently under review, to ensure that learner-teacher ratios are maintained at appropriate levels.The number of qualified teachers entering the public service is projected to increase from 8 227 in 2012/13 to 10 200 in 2017/18. To support teacher training, R3.1-billion will be awarded in Funza Lushaka bursaries over the next three years. We will print and distribute 170-million workbooks at 23 562 public schools over this MTEF period. Each learner in Grades R to 9 will receive two books per subject each year in numeracy, mathematics, literacy, language and life skills.The school infrastructure backlogs programme is allocated R7.4-billion for the replacement of over 500 unsafe or poorly constructed schools, as well as to address water, sanitation and electricity needs. The education infrastructure grant of R29.6-billion over the medium term will enable all schools to meet the minimum norms and standards for school infrastructure by 2016.The budget also includes R4.1-billion over the MTEF period to build and support public libraries. School and community sport programmes and sports academies will receive R1.7-billion in conditional allocations to provinces.Post-school education and trainingAllocations to post-school education and training exceed R195-billion over the medium term, increasing at an annual average of 7.1%. University operating subsidies will amount to R72.4-billion. Transfers to universities for infrastructure of R10.5-billion are proposed, including R3.2-billion for the new universities of Mpumalanga and Sol Plaatje.We are mindful of the pressures on student financing at our higher education institutions. The National Student Financial Aid Scheme is projected to spend R11.9-billion in 2017/18, up from R9.2-billion in 2014/15. This will support a further increase in university enrolments and in technical and vocational colleges. Progress in the quality of post-school education programmes is clearly critical. Under Minister Nzimande’s direction, the 21 sector education and training authorities and the National Skills Fund will continue to provide work placements for students and graduates. Raising the number of trainees who qualify as artisans is a special priority. Options for improving the skills funding system will be reviewed in the period ahead.Transport, energy and communicationsWe have all been reminded of the importance of infrastructure investment and maintenance over the past year. It is not just an inconvenience when the lights go out, there is a cost to the economy in production and income and jobs foregone.Many South Africans regularly experience other kinds of infrastructure failure: unreliable water supplies, roads that are impassable when it rains, trains that break down or poor telecommunication linkages.These are large, long-term, costly challenges, and so the work of Minister Peters, Minister Joemat-Pettersson, Minister Cwele, Minister Mokonyane and Minister Patel in securing maximum value out of available funds is especially critical. We are able to make substantial contributions through the fiscus to infrastructure services over the MTEF period:R1.1-billion is allocated for the upgrade of the Moloto Road to improve safety and mobility on this road.The Passenger Rail Agency’s R53-billion 10-year renewal programme is now in progress. The first 44 new train sets, or 528 coaches, will be delivered over the next three years.Over R80-billion is allocated to over 220 water and sanitation projects and for local roads.R105-billion will be spent on housing and associated bulk infrastructure requirements.Over R18-billion in electrification funding will provide for 875 000 households to be connected to the grid or to receive off-grid electricity.R1.1-billion is allocated for broadband connectivity in government institutions and schools.I need to emphasise that not all infrastructure services qualify for budget funding. Cost recovery from users is a key foundation of infrastructure sustainability, together with fiscal support for access to essential services. I therefore wish to endorse the Deputy President’s carefully balanced approach to resolving the Gauteng Freeway financing matter. Concerns regarding the socioeconomic impact of toll tariffs have been heard, and revised monthly ceilings will shortly be proposed.We will include a national contribution to meeting the associated cost in the Adjustments Appropriation later this year. Measures will also be taken to ease compliance and improve enforcement. But cost recovery from road-users will continue to be the principal financing mechanism for this major road system.Investing to transform our urban spaceNational government is working closely with metropolitan municipalities to invigorate urban development. As the NDP emphasises, realizing the economic dividends of urban growth requires a new approach to providing infrastructure, housing and public transport services, while overcoming the spatialdivisions of apartheid. This budget recognises the need to assist cities in mobilising the finance required for more rapid infrastructure investment and maintenance. Amendments will be proposed to the Municipal Fiscal Powers and Functions Act to clarify the rules surrounding bulk infrastructure charges, and ensure an equitable and transparent system of contributions by land developers.The National Treasury has recently met the mayors and city managers of all eight metropolitan municipalities to discuss how to accelerate investment, improve infrastructure maintenance and strengthen financial management. Metropolitan councils will announce details of their investment programmes in their forthcoming budget statements. The Treasury, the Department of Cooperative Governance and the Development Bank of Southern Africa will host a conference on urban infrastructure investment later this year to enable private investors to obtain further details of financing opportunities that will arise from this new programme.I have also been reminded of the role of tax measures in supporting urban development. With us in the gallery today is Mr Vuyisa Qabaka, a Cape Town entrepreneur and co-founder of an organisation called the Good Neighbourhoods Foundation. His advice is that “Government should encourage township investment. For instance, it could promote urban development and regeneration through accelerated depreciation allowances for new building constructions or refurbishment of existing buildings.”National allocations to municipalities continue to be equitably allocated and aligned with Minister Gordhan’s “Back to Basics” strategy. The local government equitable share was protected from the baseline reductions, to ensure that service delivery to the poor is prioritised. Allocations for water, sanitation and electricity in rural municipalities have been increased substantially. R4.3-billion will be spent over the next three years to build capacity and strengthen systems for financial management and infrastructure delivery. The collaborative review of local government infrastructure grants will give special attention to the maintenance of infrastructure, so that the gains made over the past 20 years continue to be extended and enjoyed by all over the life of these assets.Defence, public order and safetyWe still confront unacceptably high levels of crime in our country. Government spending on public order and safety and on defence will therefore continue to increase, from R163-billion this year to R193-billion by 2017/18.Police services receive about 48% of the total allocation.Effective and efficient courts, under Minister Masutha’s oversight and Chief Justice Mogoeng’s leadership, are central to constitutional democracy and the functioning of the criminal justice system. Over the medium term, a total amount of R492-million has been reprioritised towards improving access to justice. This will increase capacity for court support personnel, public defenders and prosecutors. In order to strengthen the independence of the judiciary, the Office of the Chief Justice has been established as a new department. It becomes fully operational on 1 April 2015, with a budget over the MTEF period of R5.2-billion.The fight against corruption remains a central priority. Additional allocations have been made to the Public Protector and the Financial Intelligence Centre for increasing their human resource capacity. South Africa’s defence force under Minister Mapisa-Nqakula will continue to be deployed for safeguarding our borders and in peacekeeping operations in several conflict areas. Budget provision for border safeguarding and regional security amounts to R2.8-billion and R4.5-billion, respectively, over the next three years.The budget also includes R834-million for access of military veterans to health care and housing services.Financial management: ensuring value for moneyBetter value for money in public service delivery depends on rigorous financial management, effective systems and an unrelenting fight against corruption. Supply chain management in the public sector is far from perfect. There are frequent allegations of corruption and inefficiency. Against this background, the NationalTreasury has conducted a review of public sector supply chain management, drawing on the views and experience of government, business and civil society. The review was published last month, and is a candid reflection of our current state of public sector procurement, the reforms that are needed and the opportunities that an efficient, transparent SCM system presents. In consultation with the Minister of Basic Education, the following reforms are in progress:All books delivered to schools from January 2016 will be managed through a centrally negotiated contract.With effect from May this year, all school building plans will be standardised and the cost of construction will be controlled by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer. Too often, and for too long, we have paid too much for school building projects.Routine maintenance of school buildings and minor construction works will be decentralised. This will be accompanied by measures to combat inefficiency and corruption at district and school level.From April 2015, a central supplier database will be introduced. Suppliers will only be required to register once when they do business with the state. This will significantly reduce the administrative burden for business, especially small and medium-sized enterprises. The database will interface with SARS, the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission and the payroll system. It will electronically verify a supplier’s tax and BEE status, and enable public sector officials doing business with the state to be identified. This intervention will also reduce the administrative burden for SCM practitioners and address many of the concerns raised by the Auditor-General every year.In close collaboration with the State Information Technology Agency, a central etender portal will be implemented from April this year. It will be compulsory that all tenders be advertised on this portal, and all tender documents will be freely available there. Tender advertisements in newspapers and the government gazette will be phased out.A new approach to funding health and education infrastructure in provinces was introduced in 2013. Following a two-year planning cycle, the 2015/16 allocations for the education infrastructure grant and the health facility revitalisation grant reflect this new approach. On top of their base allocations, provinces that meet the minimum planning standards have been rewarded with additional allocations. For instance, the Eastern Cape receives an additional R233-million due to the quality of its plans for health and education infrastructure investment. Provinces that failed to meet the minimum standards will be prioritised for assistance through the on-goingInfrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme. This allocation methodology will be expanded over the MTEF period so that all provincial departments continuously improve their planning to be eligible to receive incentive allocations. The non-payment of suppliers on time is a perennial problem that needs serious attention. This practice works against government’s efforts to grow the economy and develop the SMME sector. Payment of suppliers within 30 days will now be included among other SCM requirements in the performance agreements of accounting officers.Revenue and tax measuresIn turning to the revenue proposals for the year ahead, Honourable Members, let me emphasise again that we are accountable to citizens and taxpayers for ensuring value for money in our stewardship of public resources. Our current projection is that tax revenue will amount to R979-billion in 2014/15, or about R14.7-billion less than the budget estimate a year ago. Including non-tax revenue, social security funds and other receipts, and after deducting R51.7-billion which goes to Southern African Customs Union partner countries, consolidated budget revenue will be R1 091-billion this year, or about 8.2% more than in 2013/14.In the recent past, there has been considerable variation in customs union receipts, because of fluctuations in regional trade. The period ahead will also see large shifts in customs receipts, with potentially adverse implications for our partner countries. South Africa remains keen to see a revised and improved revenue sharing arrangement that would stabilise and safeguard these resource flows. Personal income tax remains a buoyant source of revenue, but the slowdown in business conditions is reflected in lower-than-expected company tax, value added tax and customs revenue.Once again, the South African Revenue Service has done sterling work in difficult circumstances. In welcoming Mr Tom Moyane as the new Commissioner, I would like to convey my appreciation to all the personnel of SARS for their efforts over the past year.Tax policy aims to raise revenue in a manner that is fair and efficient, while contributing to social solidarity and supporting long-term economic growth and job creation. Tax reforms since 1994 have considerably broadened the tax base, through inclusion of capital gains and closing of tax loopholes. As I indicated in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in October, even after lowering our expenditure ceiling, and taking into account the need for sustainability in managing our debt, there is a structural gap between our revenue requirements and projected tax proceeds. To bridge this gap we require additional revenue. In considering tax policy options, we have drawn on advice of the Davis Tax Committee and through the broader annual tax consultation process. In my view, the need to maintain the overall progressivity of the tax structure is a compelling consideration.Tax proposalsThe 2015 Budget tax proposals aim to increase tax revenues as required, limit the erosion of the corporate tax base, increase incentives for small businesses and promote a greener economy.The main tax proposals are as follows.Personal income tax rates will be raised by one percentage point for all taxpayers earning more than R181 900 a year. This raises tax by R21 a month for a taxpayer below age 65 with an annual income of R200 000. Those earning R500 000 would pay R271 a month more, and at R1.5-million a year the tax increase is R1 105 a month. However, tax brackets, rebates and medical scheme contribution credits will be adjusted for inflation, as in previous years. The net effect is that there will be tax relief below about R450 000 a year, while those with higher incomes will pay more in tax.Honourable Members, an increase in the general fuel levy of 30.5 cents a litre will take effect in April. Following recommendations of the Davis Committee, a more generous tax regime is proposed for businesses with a turnover below R1-million a year. Qualifying businesses with a turnover below R335 000 a year will pay no tax, and the maximum rate is reduced from 6% to 3%. To complement this relief, SARS is establishing small business desks in its revenue offices to assist in complying with tax requirements.The rates and brackets for transfer duties on the sale of property will be adjusted to provide relief to middle-income households. The new rates eliminate transfer duty on properties below R750 000, while the rate on properties above R2.25-million will increase.Members of the House are advised that excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products will again increase:the tax on a quart of beer goes up by 15.5 centsa bottle of wine will cost 15 cents morea bottle of sparkling wine goes up by 48 centsa bottle of whisky will be R3.77 morea pack of 20 cigarettes goes up by 82 centsAmendments are proposed to the diesel refund system which applies in the agriculture, forestry, fishing and mining sectors. Some of these changes will take effect this year and some in 2016.The net effect of these proposals on 2015/16 tax revenue is an increase of R8.3-billion, which will bring tax revenue for the year to R1 081-billion, or about 10.4% more than 2014/15 tax revenue.Further tax proposalsI am also proposing a number of tax measures to promote energy efficiency, which will be discussed further with industry, the electricity regulator, Eskom and other interested parties.The first proposal is a temporary increase in the electricity levy, from 3.5c/kWh to 5.5c/kWh, to assist in demand management. This additional 2c/kWh will be withdrawn when the electricity shortage is over. Secondly, an increase is proposed in the energy-efficiency savings incentive from 45c/kWh to 95c/kWh, together with its extension to cogeneration projects. Other measures under consideration include enhancing the accelerated depreciation for solar photovoltaic renewable energy.In the absence of a carbon tax, the electricity levy serves both to promote energy efficiency and encourage lower greenhouse gas emissions. The introduction of a carbon tax in 2016 will provide an additional tool to deal more sustainably with the current electricity shortage, while lowering the electricity levy. A draft carbon tax bill will be introduced later this year for a further round of public consultation. To ensure that the burden is fairly distributed, steps will be taken to ensure that the electricity levy applies to all users, especially energy-intensive users, while ensuring that there are no double-payments.We are also taking further steps to combat financial leakages which deprive our economy of-billions of rand through erosion of the tax base, profit shifting and illicit money flows.This is the advice I received from Durban businessman, Mr Wolfe Braude, who is with us today: “Action has to be taken to close tax evasion loopholes such as transfer pricing, and profit shifting strategies by SA corporates. I ask that South Africa continue its support for the recent G20 decisions in this regard and the implementation of actions in support of transparency and sharing of information. South Africa must similarly stand firm in the SADC against tax havens.” The South African Reserve Bank and the Revenue Service work closely together to monitor capital flows. This assists in identifying movements of funds for tax reasons. Internationally, there is increasing collaboration between bank regulators and tax authorities, and so progress is being made to reduce both capital leakage and tax evasion. Drawing on advice of the Davis Committee, amendments will be proposed to improve transfer-pricing documentation and revise the rules for controlled foreign companies and the digital economy.There are two further revenue proposals that I need to explain. They both arise from challenges in respect of earmarked taxes.The first is a 50 cents a litre increase in the Road Accident Fund levy.This is a substantial increase from the present levy of R1.04. It is required in order to finance the progress made by the RAF administration in clearing the claims backlog. But it also reflects the unsustainability of the current compensation system, which has accumulated a R98-billion unfunded liability. Legislation to establish the new Road Accident Benefit Scheme will be tabled this year, to provide for affordable and equitable support for those injured in road accidents. Once the legislation has been passed, the levy will be assigned to the new scheme.The second special revenue proposal is a one-year relief measure in respect of Unemployment Insurance Fund contributions. Unlike the Road Accident Fund, the UIF has an accumulated surplus of over R90-billion. Improved benefits are now being introduced, but it is nonetheless possible to provide temporary relief to both employers and employees. The proposal is that the contribution threshold should be reduced to R1000 a month for the 2015/16 year. This means that employers and employees will each pay R10 a month during the year ahead, putting R15-billion back into the pockets of workers and businesses.Financial position of public sector institutionsState-owned companiesState-owned companies play a key role in promoting economic growth and social development. Transnet’s freight modernisation programme, for example, has raised the number of trains that run between Johannesburg and Durban to sixty a day, from fewer than 20 a decade ago.State-owned companies will invest about R360-billion over the next three years, accounting for about 20% of South Africa’s gross capital formation. However, the financial position of some state enterprises is unsatisfactory, undermining their ability to contribute toward development. Recommendations to make our public entities more relevant to South Africa’s developmental needs have been made by the Presidential Review Committee chaired by Ms Ria Phiyega. Reforms are required to ensure that state companies contribute to building a competitive economy and are not an unnecessary drain on the fiscus, and that developmental mandates are appropriately financed and serve the national interest. Private investment and partnerships with state-owned companies are elements of our strategy for strengthening infrastructure investment and improving service delivery. As indicated in last year’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, fiscal support to state-owned companies over the period ahead will be financed through offsetting asset sales so that there is no net impact on the budget deficit. The required turnaround in performance and delivery on government priorities will be closely monitored, under the Deputy President’s oversight.To stabilise Eskom’s financial position, it will apply to the regulator this year for adjustments towards cost-reflective tariffs. In October 2014 we announced a broad package for Eskom, including a capital injection of R23-billion, governance improvements, operational cost containment and additional borrowing and support for required tariff increases. The fiscal allocation of R23-billion will be paid in three installments, with the first transfer to be made by June 2015. A special appropriation bill will be tabled, once the finance has been raised. If further support is deemed necessary, consideration will be given to an equity conversion of government’s subordinated loan to Eskom.Government has also stepped in to address the financial position of South African Airways. SAA reported a net loss of R2.6-billion in 2013/14, as a result of high operating costs, losses on several international routes and valuation adjustments.We have made guarantees of R14.4-billion available to SAA, of which the airline has drawn R8.3-billion. Measures to achieve operational efficiencies and restore profitability are now in progress.Guarantees have also been provided to the South African Post Office, subject to implementation of its turnaround strategy. This involves revised universal service obligations and delivery targets, taking into account the decline in the mail and courier business and the shift to digital communication. Minister Cwele has appointed an administrator to lead SAPO’s turnaround.Development finance institutionsOne of the strengths on which implementation of our National Development Plan rests is the financial health and capacity of our development finance institutions.At the end of 2013/14, their combined assets amounted to R250-billion, against liabilities of R107-billion. The Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Industrial Development Corporation, the Land Bank and other national DFIs will expand their loan portfolios by about 33% over the next two years, including substantial investments in renewable energy, agriculture, industrial infrastructure and beneficiation projects.Several initiatives are in progress to strengthen the role of DFIs:A review of provincial entities has been initiated, aimed at enhancing their effectiveness and sustainability.An organizational review of the Land Bank will be conducted under the leadership of the newly appointed Board and CEO, to enhance its support for emerging farmers and commercial agriculture.The DBSA will take the lead in developing South Africa’s municipal debt market in order to accelerate both public and private sector investment in urban renewal.The IDC aims to mobilise R100-billion over the next five years to promote faster industrial development, mineral beneficiation and agro-processing. Of special importance is the Land Bank’s collaboration with the Department of Rural Development and Land Reform to bring rural land restitution and redistribution projects to full production. This initiative will build on the Bank’s success in supporting black farmers through its Retail Emerging Markets division, which has financed over 400 projects and created 7 000 employment opportunities to date, without any defaults.The DBSA will continue to manage the Infrastructure and Investment Programme for South Africa, which is a partnership with the European Commission to strengthen project preparation and co-funding arrangements. It also provides support to the Independent Power Producer Programme, which will be extended to include new generation capacity from hydro, coal and gas sources to complement Eskom’s baseload energy capacity. Co-generation and demand management initiatives are also being supported.South Africa signed a treaty last year to give birth to a new multilateral development bank to be based in Shanghai, China. We are excited to be part of this new venture, especially given the leverage South Africa will have on resources that will augment our infrastructure investment programme and those of Sub-Saharan Africa countries. The first regional office of the bank will be located in South Africa.Public service pensionsI am pleased to be able to report that under the capable management of the Public Investment Corporation, the retirement funding assets of public service members and pensioners have grown strongly over the past year. The Government Employees Pension Fund remains well-funded and soundly managed. Pensioners of the GEPF, the Associated Institutions Pension Fund and theTemporary Employees Pension Fund, as well as recipients of special and military pensions, will receive a 5.8% pension increase with effect from April 2015. We have noted that some civil servants are resigning from GEPF, driven by high levels of indebtedness or incorrect information on the retirement reform process. I want to assure civil servants that the pension reforms currently under consideration will not adversely affect benefits to members of the GEPF.Financial sector reformsI am pleased to confirm that with effect from 1 March 2015, the new tax free-savings accounts will be available. Significant progress has been achieved in relation to retirement reforms, and consultations with NEDLAC will continue. The first draft of default regulations will be issued shortly for public comment. These reforms have one central objective: to maximise the long-term benefits to retirement fund members, so that they can retire comfortably.Our financial services sector is one of South Africa’s strengths, but as noted in our recent market conduct policy framework document, it needs to do more to treat customers fairly.The bill establishing two new regulatory authorities, the so-called “twin peaks” reform, will be tabled this year. We have strengthened regulations for banks, and will be doing so this year for insurers, derivatives and hedge funds. We will be taking steps to strengthen the supervision of large financial groups and collective investment schemes, particularly money market funds.Under its curatorship, African Bank is now generating positive cash flows. We announced a R7-billion backstop last year, but our expectation is that the bank will be stabilised without recourse to taxpayer funds.In December, the International Monetary Fund released its assessment of the South African financial system. It concluded that our financial system is stable and our regulatory system sound. The report indicates need to strengthen supervision of large financial groups and collective investment schemes, in view of the concentration and interconnectedness of our financial sector.The problem of excessive household indebtedness remains a serious challenge. Approximately 45% of credit-active consumers have impaired credit records. This results in part from poor market conduct by lenders and financial advisors. We are engaging with the major banks on further steps to be taken to assist overindebted consumers. Government also welcomes initiatives of employers in the private sector who have audited garnishee orders applied to their employees, and have taken steps to identify illegally-issued orders.ConclusionHonourable Speaker, this has been a challenging budget to prepare, under difficult economic circumstances. The resources at our disposal are limited. Our economic growth initiatives have to be intensified.Preparing a budget under difficult circumstances is a reminder that our public services are many and varied, and that we rely on the efforts and good judgement of many thousands of public servants, teachers, health practitioners and law enforcement officers, every day. And our economy comprises a great diversity of enterprises, factories, mines, service centres and shop-floors, welfare organisations, trade unions and industry associations. Our collective future depends on the energy and enterprise of all of us.The 2015 Budget takes forward our National Development Plan and medium term strategic framework, recognising that the gains of our democracy have to be shared more equally and our economy has to be given greater impetus.Allow me to thank you, Mister President, Mister Deputy President and all of my Cabinet colleagues, for your guidance and understanding of the challenges before us and the choices for which we have shared responsibility. Honourable Speaker, and Members of the House – these are our budget proposals, and I look forward to further engagement through our committees and the Parliamentary budget process. I am especially grateful to the chairs of the finance and appropriation committees, who have responsibility for steering consideration of the Division of Revenue Bill and the Appropriation Bill, and the revenue bills which will be tabled later in the year.Preparation of the budget is the outcome of inputs and efforts of countless people, in Treasury, in government departments, in provinces and municipalities and in our public entities. I thank you all.Implementation of the budget, Honourable Speaker, is the collective outcome of the activities of all South Africans: workers and businesses who contribute to economic activity, investors who make growth possible, savers and taxpayers, officials and service providers, protectors, advisors, those who work on our farms, those who care for the young and elderly. It is my privilege to table these proposals for the consideration of all South Africans, and to reaffirm our commitment to work together with all South Africans in pursuing a better future.
Chandigarh, Aug 23 (PTI) A grand welcome awaits Rio Olympics bronze medallist wrestler Sakshi Malik when she arrives home tomorrow, with hectic preparations underway to give her a rousing reception at her village Mokhra Khas in Rohtak district. When Sakshi touches down at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi at around 3:50 a.m. tomorrow, as many as five ministers of the BJP Government in Haryana will be there to receive her. Among the ministers who will be there to receive her include Kavita Jain, Rao Narbir Singh, Manish Grover and Vipul Goel, Director of Sports and Youth Affairs Department, Haryana, Jagdeep Singh Sheoran told PTI here today. Haryanas Sports and Youth Affairs Minister Anil Vij, who was present in Rio as head of state delegation, will accompany Sakshi on the return flight. “Aa rahi hoon main, apne des apne ghar! (I am coming back, to my country, to my home),” Sakshi tweeted earlier today. She also posted on twitter the pictures of sumptuous breakfast which she had in Rio. “A proper breakfast! How I have missed you!,” she tweeted. Meanwhile, giving details of the grand reception planned for Sakshi, Jagdeep Singh said, “Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will travel to Sakshis village in Rohtak tomorrow where a grand felicitation function, in which we are expecting a public gathering of over 30,000, has been kept. Over there Sakshi will be honoured with a cash award of Rs 2.5 crore for her bronze medal effort by the state government.” Before she heads to Rohtak, Sakshi will be welcomed near the Delhi-Haryana border at Bahadurgarh where prominent sportspersons, senior officials of the state government, will receive her. Along the way, Sakshi will make brief stopovers at a couple of villages in Rohtak district including Ismaila village where she will meet her maternal uncle. With requests from several village Sarpanches along the way requesting that Sakshi make a brief stopover, the wrestler may take hours before she manages to reach Rohtak. She will travel in a bedecked vehicle. PTI SUN PDS CMadvertisement
Sachin Tendulkar played numerous memorable knocks throughout his 24-year marathon career. One such knock came on his birthday in 1998 that guided India to a memorable six-wicket win over the mighty Australians in the Coca-Cola Cup final in Sharjah. (Happy birthday Sachin Tendulkar: Master Blaster turns 44)Put into bat, Australia posted a challenging 272 for nine thanks to fifties from skipper Steve Waugh and Darren Lehmann. India were off to a decent start before they lost their first wicket at 39 of Sourav Ganguly for 23.However, Tendulkar and Nayan Mongia then stitched together a stand of 89 runs to keep India on track in a tough chase. After Mongia’s fall, captain Mohammad Azharuddin joined Tendulkar and the two negated the Aussie attack and put on 120-run partnership to take India close to victory.Tendulkar was the victim this time but he had already hurt the Aussies and gave India the platform for a memorable victory. A young 25-year-old Tendulkar hit 134 off 131 balls, studded with 12 fours and three sixes in his amazing knock. India won the match by six wickets and lifted the trophy.The knock came two days after the infamous ‘Desert Storm’ when he struck 143 off 131 deliveries, laced with nine fours and five towering sixes. Though India lost that game against Australia but the Master Blaster’s innings helped India qualify for the final.Tendulkar, who was born today in in 1973 in Mumbai, holds many records in the rich history of cricket, including 100 international centuries and most international runs.He made his Test debut against Pakistan in 1989 at the age of 16 years and 205 days and remains the youngest Indian to do so. He went on to play a record 200 Test matches for India in a career that lasted 24 years.advertisementThe Little Master hammered 51 Test hundreds and 49 centuries in one day internationals. He went to MRF pace academy but Australian fast bowling great Dennis Lillee advised Tendulkar to focus on his batting. The rest is history.He finished his career as the leading run-getter in international cricket, with 34,357 runs across formats — 15,921 in 200 Tests, 18426 in 463 ODIs and 10 in 1 T20 international. He played his final match of his career — his 200th Test — at his home ground in November 2013 at the Wankhede stadium when India hosted West Indies in a Test series.Tendulkar was the first player to smash a double hundred in ODIs when he struck 200 not out off 147 balls against South Africa in Gwalior on February 24, 2010.Tendulkar also played at the lucrative Indian Premier League for Mumbai Indians. In 78 matches, the master blaster scored 2334 runs with the help of one century and 13 fifties.Interestingly, Tendulkar has batted thrice on his birthday and has tasted victories each time. Apart from Coca-Cup final, the batting legend has batted twice on April 24 — 28 against now-defunct IPL franchise Deccan Chargers in 2011 and 2 against Kolkata Knight Riders in 2013.
Imrul Kayes once again starred with the bat to give Bangladesh a series-clinching victory over Zimbabwe in the second one day international on Wednesday.Bangladesh sealed the 3-match series with a game to spare after cruising to a seven-wicket victory at the Zahur Ahmed Chowdhury Stadium in Chittagong.A 148-run partnership between Liton Das and Kayes in the opening stand proved to be key as Bangladesh raced to victory in 44.1 overs, overhauling Zimbabwe’s 246/7.Kayes, the centurion of the previous match, made a useful 90, while Liton Das smashed a 77-ball 83, giving the side an early impetus. Mushfiqur Rahim was not out on 40.2nd ODI ScorecardDas could have gone for 0 in just third ball of the innings when fast bowler Kyle Jarvis convinced the umpire to give a leg-before verdict, but he stayed in after a review.Kayes was not as attacking as Das but regularly found the gap to keep the bowlers busy.Sikandar Raza (3-43) broke through twice, claiming the wicket of Das and Fazle Mahmud (0) in his consecutive two overs. But it mattered little as Kayes found a support in Mushfiqur Rahim to keep the side aloft.Raza took the wicket of Kayes when he was approaching his second consecutive century before Rahim and Mohammad Mithun (24 not out) sealed the game.Brendan Taylor was key in Zimbabwe’s batting after Mashrafe Mortaza opted to bowl first, predicting the dew would come into play in the later part of the innings. Taylor struck a 73- ball 75, with nine fours and one six and shared two important partnerships with Cephas Zhuwao (20) and Craig Ervine (47).advertisementPace bowler Mohammad Saifuddin, with his career best 3-45, stalled Zimbabwe’s progress.Bangladesh gave away just 19 runs in last five overs, which proved to be decisive.(With inputs from AP)