Bud­get votes take stock of progress

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Par­lia­ment presided over a marathon bud­get vote ses­sion, with 40 de­part­ments not­ing the ad­vances made in im­prov­ing the lives of South Africans

Anew land au­dit on who owns South Africa, the gazetting of the much-an­tic­i­pated Min­ing Char­ter, a recom­mit­ment to re­new­able en­ergy and a push to fast-track the Black In­dus­tri­al­ist Pro­gramme are some of the no­table an­nounce­ments that set the scene for in­clu­sive growth and eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion when Min­is­ters tabled de­part­men­tal bud­get votes in Par­lia­ment re­cently.

Par­lia­ment presided over a marathon 40 de­part­men­tal bud­get votes in May, with de­part­ments tak­ing stock of the progress made in im­prov­ing the lives of all South Africans and de­tail­ing pro­grammes for the year ahead.

Af­ter Pres­i­dent Ja­cob Zuma an­nounced in the Fe­bru­ary State of the Na­tion Ad­dress (SONA) that gov­ern­ment would use all levers of the state to usher in rad­i­cal eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion, the de­part­ments used the bud­get votes to make an­nounce­ments aimed at giv­ing prac­ti­cal mean­ing to the call.

In his ad­dress at the time the Pres­i­dent said in­ter­ven­tions to ac­cel­er­ate eco­nomic trans­for­ma­tion in the year ahead would in­clude us­ing leg­is­la­tion, reg­u­la­tions, li­cens­ing, bud­get and pro­cure­ment as well as Broad-Based Black Eco­nomic Em­pow­er­ment Char­ters to in­flu­ence the be­hav­iour of the pri­vate sec­tor and drive trans­for­ma­tion.

Calls for land au­dit to de­ter­mine who owns South Africa

The de­bate over land own­er­ship in South Africa has been the sub­ject of calls by most sec­tors of so­ci­ety, from po­lit­i­cal for­ma­tions to gen­eral mem­bers of the pub­lic call­ing for an eq­ui­table re­form of land-own­er­ship pat­tens.

Land Re­form and Ru­ral Af­fairs Min­is­ter Gugile Nk­winti also made this call dur­ing the de­bate on the State of the Na­tion Ad­dress.

Tabling the depart­ment's bud­get vote, the Min­is­ter said the depart­ment will con­duct a land au­dit.

“Our big­gest chal­lenge re­mains the an­swer to the ques­tion – who owns South Africa?

“In terms of phase one of our land au­dit, it be­came clear that we still needed to con­duct an au­dit in terms of land own­er­ship by race, gen­der and na­tion­al­ity. We have just con­cluded the lat­ter process,” he said.

Re­vi­tal­is­ing the value chain

Agri­cul­ture, Forestry and Fish­eries Min­is­ter Sen­zeni Zok­wana said there were a num­ber of pro­grammes through which the depart­ment sought to help smallscale farm­ers par­tic­i­pate in the sec­tor's value chain.

An ex­am­ple is the Re­vi­tal­i­sa­tion of the Agri­cul­ture and Agro-Pro­cess­ing Value Chain, which fo­cuses on land re­form, mar­ket ac­cess and trade, pro­ducer sup­port, re­search and in­no­va­tion and pro­duc­tion.

Un­der mar­ket ac­cess, the Min­is­ter said for the fi­nan­cial year 2017/18, R2.2 bil­lion had been al­lo­cated as a con­di­tional grant to sup­port farm­ers. He said R1.6 bil­lion was for the Com­pre­hen­sive Agri­cul­tural Sup­port Pro­gramme, aimed at pro­vid­ing post-set­tle­ment sup­port to the tar­geted ben­e­fi­cia­ries of land re­form and to other pro­duc­ers who have ac­quired land through pri­vate means.

He added that R522 mil­lion had been al­lo­cated to Ilima/Let­sema, a pro­gramme fo­cused on in­creas­ing food pro­duc­tion and re­ha­bil­i­tat­ing ir­ri­ga­tion schemes and other value ad­ding projects.

“In an ef­fort to fast-track the trans­for­ma­tion of the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, spe­cific at­ten­tion will be given to the devel­op­ment of 450 large-scale black com­mer­cial farm­ers.

“For this fi­nan­cial year, I com­mit R220 mil­lion for the devel­op­ment of small­holder farm­ers to grad­u­ate to com­mer­cial farm­ers. Our tar­get is to have 2 250 black com­mer­cial farm­ers by 2022,” he said.

More sup­port for black in­dus­tri­al­ists

In­dus­tri­al­is­ing the econ­omy has been iden­ti­fied as one of the ways through which cru­cial job-cre­at­ing sec­tors like the man­u­fac­tur­ing in­dus­try, among others, can be sup­ported go­ing for­ward. This has also been seen as the best way to drive lo­cal­i­sa­tion.

In his bud­get vote Trade and In­dus­try Min­is­ter Rob Davies said gov­ern­ment's Black In­dus­tri­al­ist Pro­gramme had al­ready sup­ported 46 projects since it was launched last year.

He said the depart­ment now aimed to reach its tar­get a year early and sup­port 100 black in­dus­tri­al­ists by March 2018, in­stead of the ini­tial tar­geted date of March 2019.

“I am happy to re­port that as of now, we have ap­proved 46 projects run by black in­dus­tri­al­ists, with gov­ern­ment agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Depart­ment of Trade and In­dus­try, In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion, Pub­lic In­vest­ment Cor­po­ra­tion and the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund de­ploy­ing over R2 bil­lion in fi­nan­cial sup­port on top of

“In an ef­fort to fast-track the trans­for­ma­tion of the agri­cul­ture sec­tor, spe­cific at­ten­tion will be given to the devel­op­ment of 450 large scale

black com­mer­cial farm­ers”

R122 mil­lion in grants from the depart­ment,” he said.

The Min­is­ter said the sup­port has en­abled black in­dus­tri­al­ists to un­der­take in­vest­ment projects worth

R3.7 bil­lion.

Eco­nomic Devel­op­ment Min­is­ter Ebrahim Pa­tel said high lev­els of eco­nomic con­cen­tra­tion and racially skewed own­er­ship pro­files stunted eco­nomic growth, pre­vented en­try of new play­ers, re­duced con­sumer choice, lim­ited the lev­els of in­no­va­tion and dy­namism in the econ­omy and fed a grow­ing re­sent­ment among black South Africans of the fail­ure to re­alise the vi­sion of the con­sti­tu­tion.

“To ad­dress this, we will be fi­nal­is­ing pro­posed changes to the Com­pe­ti­tion Act, as an­nounced dur­ing SONA,” he said.The depart­ment re­leased a frame­work in May and would work with a panel of ex­perts to com­plete rec­om­men­da­tions soon.

“To deepen our in­for­ma­tion base on the ex­tent of trans­for­ma­tion, we will work with other de­part­ments to quan­tify the ex­tent of black cit­i­zen par­tic­i­pa­tion in the econ­omy.

“To im­prove ac­tions against col­lu­sion and cor­rupt cor­po­rate prac­tices, the Com­mis­sion will in­ves­ti­gate about 100 cases of cartel be­hav­iour in dif­fer­ent sec­tors of the econ­omy, in­clud­ing food, in­fra­struc­ture, chem­i­cals, fi­nan­cial ser­vices and car-parts,” he said.

The In­dus­trial Devel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion will tar­get R7 bil­lion for black in­dus­tri­al­ists and R2.5 bil­lion for women- and youth-em­pow­ered com­pa­nies this year.

“More than R4 bil­lion will be put into lo­cal­i­sa­tion ini­tia­tives,” he said.

Calls for cit­i­zens to be Brand South Africa am­bas­sadors

Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Min­is­ter Ayanda Dlodlo said that to drive for­eign di­rect in­vest­ment into South Africa, cit­i­zens across all sec­tors of so­ci­ety should be pa­tri­otic.

In­stead of only fo­cus­ing on neg­a­tive de­vel­op­ments in the coun­try, cit­i­zens should also tell the good South African sto­ries.

“Re­cently, South Africa took sec­ond place in the

Africa Com­pet­i­tive­ness Re­port and the coun­try's global rank­ing for 2016/17 im­proved by nine places, from 56 in the 2014/15 re­port to 47 out of 138 coun­tries world­wide, ac­cord­ing to Brand South Africa.

“This work is vi­tally im­por­tant and we all have a role to play in build­ing our na­tion. Now is the time for a new spirit of pa­tri­o­tism and op­ti­mism.

“Now is the time for all South Africans to play their role as con­scious brand am­bas­sadors.

“All too of­ten out­side in­vestors only get to hear the neg­a­tive sto­ries about our great na­tion. It is up to us to high­light the many pos­i­tive things about our na­tion and our peo­ple,” she said.

The depart­ment will con­tinue to pri­ori­tise and sup­port me­dia trans­for­ma­tion through the Me­dia Di­ver­sity Devel­op­ment Agency (MDDA).

“We are pleased that in the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year the MDDA will present the 10-year im­pact study which sought to as­sess the ef­fec­tive­ness of the im­pact made since the MDDA's in­cep­tion in 2002.

“The MDDA must con­tinue sup­port­ing projects that pro­mote the ac­tive role of peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties into the sec­tor and place greater em­pha­sis on cor­rect­ing gen­der im­bal­ances, both in terms of own­er­ship and man­age­ment of com­mu­nity me­dia, and in the news­room, as well as on how women are por­trayed in the me­dia,” she said.

En­sur­ing univer­sal health cov­er­age through the NHI Fund

Ear­lier this year gov­ern­ment an­nounced that it was look­ing to set up a Na­tional Health In­sur­ance (NHI) Fund and that a num­ber of op­tions would be ex­plored.

This would in­clude the pos­si­bil­ity of tap­ping into the tax credit on med­i­cal scheme con­tri­bu­tions.

In his bud­get speech Health Min­is­ter Aaron Mot­soaledi an­nounced that tax cred­its an­nounced in the Fe­bru­ary bud­get amounted to R20 bil­lion.

“Yes, R20 bil­lion that in 2015 and an­nu­ally will leave the fis­cus through SA Rev­enue Ser­vice back to the pock­ets of peo­ple, sim­ply be­cause they are mem­bers of a med­i­cal aid scheme,” he said.

Min­is­ter Mot­soaledi said re­turn­ing these tax cred­its back to med­i­cal aid schemes in­stead of us­ing it for univer­sal health cov­er­age did not make sense.

He said such funds should be used for the greater good and to fund the less priv­i­leged.

Min­ing Char­ter to be gazetted soon

Min­eral Re­sources Min­is­ter Mosebenzi Zwane has an­nounced that his depart­ment will soon pub­lish the Min­ing Char­ter for pub­lic com­ment.

The Min­is­ter said he has con­sulted about 60 stake­hold­ers and that their views and con­cerns will be re­flected in the re­view.

“The re­view of the Min­ing Char­ter, which was gazetted in April 2016 for pub­lic com­ment, is al­most com­plete.

“Although we had ini­tially in­tended to have the process fi­nalised in March 2017, fur­ther con­sul­ta­tions have been un­der­taken and we are con­fi­dent that the Char­ter that will be gazetted will be re­flec­tive of the care­ful con­sid­er­a­tion given, sub­stan­tive in­puts re­ceived and mean­ing­ful en­gage­ment with stake­hold­ers,” he said.

Tourism Min­is­ter an­nounces new trans­for­ma­tion fund

Tourism Min­is­ter Tokozile Xasa has used her maiden bud­get vote speech to an­nounce the es­tab­lish­ment of a trans­for­ma­tion fund to as­sist new en­trants and emerg­ing play­ers in the sec­tor with ac­cess to fund­ing.

She said fund­ing in the sec­tor has been a chal­lenge for some time.

This, the Min­is­ter said, re­stricts growth of small en­ter­prises, ex­pan­sion of their ex­ist­ing prod­ucts and par­tic­i­pa­tion by com­mu­ni­ties, as it is dif­fi­cult to ob­tain op­er­a­tional fi­nance.

“In recog­ni­tion of this chal­lenge and with the sup­port of the Na­tional Trea­sury, we have en­tered into a part­ner­ship with the Na­tional Em­pow­er­ment Fund (NEF) to es­tab­lish a Trans­for­ma­tion Fund.

“A com­bi­na­tion of grant fund­ing and debt fi­nanc­ing will be used to drive sec­tor trans­for­ma­tion and un­lock cap­i­tal in­vest­ment in tourism.

“The fund is cur­rently cap­i­talised to an amount of

R120 mil­lion with the aim of build­ing it to R360 mil­lion in the medium term,” she said.

The fund will in­clude NEF eq­uity, debt and grant fund­ing from the Depart­ment of Tourism.

“The grant fund­ing will be capped at R5 mil­lion. It will be ac­ces­si­ble in the sec­ond quar­ter of the 2017/18 fi­nan­cial year,” she said.

The Min­is­ter added that the depart­ment will set aside R1.1 bil­lion to in­crease global mar­ket share and grow the do­mes­tic tourism mar­ket in a man­ner that pro­motes in­clu­sive growth.

“Our goal is to at­tract five mil­lion ad­di­tional tourists to South Africa within the next five years,” she said.

She added that the em­pow­er­ment of women is cen­tral to the depart­ment's trans­for­ma­tion agenda.

The depart­ment will con­tinue im­ple­ment­ing its Women in Tourism Pro­gramme.

“Women in tourism are mo­bilised be­hind rep­re­sen­ta­tion, recog­ni­tion, re­ward and re­spect,” she said.

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