SA increases social spending

21 February 2007

South Africa is to increase its public spending on a variety of social programmes including teachers’ salaries, health, welfare and housing, Finance Minister Trevor Manuel said in his 2007/08 Budget speech in Cape Town on Wednesday.

South Africa will be spend an extra R8.1-billion on improved teacher salaries, teacher assistants and school support staff over the next three years, Manuel told Parliament.

Health also gets a major boost this year, with an extra R1-billion for the state’s hospital revitalisation programme, and an extra R5.3-billion for better pay for health workers and for recruiting more staff. “Government is budgeting to increase the number of health workers by about 30 000 over the next five years,” Manuel said.

In addition, the government has set aside a further R1.7-billion for its HIV/Aids programme, with treatment for about 250 000 HIV-positive patients being rolled out at 272 sites countrywide.

For public transport, water and other municipal infrastructure, there is an additional R7.8-billion.

For housing, an additional R2.7-billion brings the total allocation for the next three years to R32-billion. The housing budget will have risen from R4.6-billion in 2003/04 to R12.5-billion by 2009/10.

A further R2.4-billion goes to spending on additional police officers and on new technology and forensic equipment to assist the police. From now on, Manuel said, “electronic fingerprints and dockets will become the norm.”

At the same time, an additional R1.5-billion goes to the Department of Justice to improve the work of the country’s courts and reduce case backlogs.

Over the medium term, the Budget allocation for the police will rise by 34%, from R33-billion in 2006/07 to R44-billion in 2009/10, while the Department of Justice will see a 52% rise in its budget over the next three years.

Government spending on the 2010 Fifa World Cup goes up to R17.4-billion. While the cost of building the stadiums has been contained within the R8.4-billion originally budgeted, a further R2.3-billion will be spent on related transport infrastructure and upgrades to areas around the stadiums.

This brings the total to be spent on transport infrastructure ahead of 2010 to R9-billion, and the total of direct national government expenditure on 2010 to R17.4-billion.

Social grants
Manuel’s 2007 Budget includes increases in social grants, thanks to successes over the past previous years in curbing corruption in the country’s social grants system.

The old age pension, the disability grant and the care dependency grant will all be increased by R50, from R820 a month to R870 a month, from 1 April.

This increase, Manuel said, sends “a strong signal that money released from the reduction of corruption will be given back to those who deserve it”.

The child support grant is also being increased, from R190 to R200 a month, as is the foster care grant, from R590 to R620 a month.

The Budget also makes R10-billion available over the next three years to improve the services provided by social welfare organisations in communities.

Sin taxes
In terms of so-called “sin taxes” on consumables, a can of beer will cost 5 cents more, while a packet of cigarettes will cost 60 cents more. A 750ml bottle of spirits, such as whiskey or brandy, will cost R1.88 more, a 750ml bottle of wine will cost 10 cents more.

The tax on a litre of petrol or diesel will rise by 10 cents from 4 April. These increases, Manuel said, would bring an extra R1.5-billion into the national coffers.

Source: BuaNews