Govt identifies key focus areas

28 October 2009

South Africa has targeted five key areas for improvement over the next three years, namely job creation, education and skills, healthcare, rural development, and the fight against crime and corruption.

Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in Parliament in Cape Town on Tuesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said the state expected to spend R841.4-billion in total in 2009/10, the biggest allocations being for economic affairs (R182.9-billion), education (R144-billion), social protection (R121-billion), healthcare (R89.8-billion) and public safety (R77.7-billion).

South Africa’s nine provinces are expected to get R295.4-billion in 2009/10, while local government has been allocated R50.5-billion. R589-million has been set aside for establishing new government departments and appointing new ministers.

Total state spending is set to increase to R905.6-billion in 2010/11, with education spending to increase to R160.2-billion, social protection spending to R132.2-billion, public safety spending to R85.9-billion, and healthcare spending to R100.8-billion. The provinces will get R321.5-billion in 2010/11 and local government R59.3-billion.

Increasing access to services

The government plans to continue investing in infrastructure over the next three years, to promote increased access to basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity, to expand public transport, and to build more schools and hospitals.

Housing delivery will also be speeded up by improving coordination between the provinces, which administer the housing grant, and municipalities, which provide bulk infrastructure.

About R12.8-billion is to be added to local government’s share, mainly to compensate municipalities for the higher cost of providing free and subsidised basic services. The municipal infrastructure grant and other infrastructure programmes will also be allocated additional resources.

Funding for new priorities

The main budget makes an additional R78-billion available for new priorities. The amount is less than in previous years, amid a more difficult economic environment.

In all, 51% of the additional resources will go to provincial governments, mainly to accommodate higher personnel costs and for spending on education, health and housing.

Municipalities will get 16% of the amount, the majority of which will go to compensate for the rising costs of providing free basic services, such as R509-million to fund the provision of free electricity, and to sustain spending on infrastructure.

The national share of these additional resources will largely fund the increase in the number of social grant beneficiaries and be allocated to public employment programmes.

Rural development

Also targeted are rural development and the country’s law-enforcement agencies, while support for business and industry will also be considered, with a focus on increasing employment and investments in key sectors.

The comprehensive agricultural support programme has provided support services to 258 830 beneficiaries since its inception in 2004 until the last financial year.

The government has also provided R4.1-billion in grants to the provinces to support newly settled farmers, through the comprehensive agricultural support programme grant, the land care programme grant, and the Letsema grant.

Source: BuaNews