Friday’s Stronach 5 Rewards 97 Bettors $1,314.90 Each

first_imgFriday’s Stronach 5 Rewards 97 Bettors $1,314.90 EachLAUREL, MD – Friday’s Stronach 5, the national pick 5 with an industry-low 12-percent takeout, rewarded 97 bettors across the country $1,314.90 each.The shortest price winner came at Gulfstream Park in Uno Mas Modelo ($3.40) and the longest price occurred in the final leg at Golden Gate Fields in Classy Chasie ($22.60).Friday’s Stronach 5 sequenceLeg One – Laurel Park 9th Race – The Mason Factor $4.60Leg Two -Gulfstream Park 10th Race – Uno Mas Modelo $3.40Leg Three -Santa Anita Park 4th Race – Ostini $8Leg Four – Gulfstream Park 11th Race – Yako $12.40Leg Five – Golden Gate Fields 5th Race – Classy Chasie $22.60The minimum wager on the multi-race, multi-track Stronach 5 is $1. If there are no tickets with five winners, the entire pool will be carried over to the next Friday.For the Stronach 5, if a change in racing surface is made after the wagering closes, each selection on any ticket will be considered a winning selection. If a betting interest is scratched, that selection will be substituted with the favorite in the win pool when wagering closes.The Maryland Jockey Club serves as host of the Stronach 5.last_img read more

Two Saves from Soares Soares Knock Out BYC

first_imgFerroviario de Beira players and technical staffs in celebrate after the match.–from CAF Championship LeagueTwo penalties saved by Mozambican goalkeeper Soares Soares yesterday saw Clube Ferroviario de Beria knocking out champion club Barrack Young Controllers from the 2017 CAF Champions League’s preliminaries at the Antoinette Tubman Stadium.The match ended in a penalty shootout after BYC leveled the aggregate 2-2 by scoring two goals in the first half of the match.The ‘Go Blue Boys’ got the curtain raiser in the 16th minute after midfielder Abdulai Bility got his first continental goal for his club.Goalkeeper Soares Soares in a happy mood after the matchEager enough to reach the group’s stage of the competition for the first time, the ‘Go Blue Boys’ showed no sign of slowing down by mounting consistent pressure on their opponents in the first half.Their efforts got them a deserving result after the ball was handed by Ferroviario De Beira’s defender in the penalty box that led to referee Mohamed Omara of Libya awarding BYC a penalty in the 39th minute.Right-back Prince Kennedy, who also got the lone goal against Stade de Malian through a penalty in the first leg, converted the penalty by sending goalkeeper Pascoal Carlos the wrong way.The dominance of BYC in the first session gave the Mozambicans no chance of testing their opponents’ goalkeeper.BYC had additional goal scoring opportunities in the first half after skipper Van-Dave Harmon came close to score in the 60th and 64th minutes and striker Mark Paye’s touch on skipper Harmon’s low ground shot that deflected on the goalpost.With just single a goal needed in the second half to make history in Liberian football, Coach Cooper Sannah’s technical tactics could not turn the other side of the coin as his boys failed to make history.The opportunities of getting a goal in the second 45 minutes were not utilized by the Liberian champions, after Prince Saydee, David Tweh and Mark Paye’s attempts were all off target.The Mozambican side adopted a defensive posture in the remaining minutes of the match in anticipation of a penalty shootout and brought in goalkeeper Soares Soares.Goalkeeper Soares later killed the dream of the Go Blue Boys after he brilliantly saved his fellow goalkeeper, Allenton Sembeh and Solomon Yahweh’s penalties.Several high profiled personalities, including Chief Patron of Sports, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Senator George Weah and newly elected CAF EC member, Musa Bility were in attendance.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more


first_imgPatrick is getting used to winning awards for his new salon!Patrick Gildea Hairdressing team triumphed in the National JCI Friendly Business Awards in Cork. Unsurprisingly the impressive salon and highly talented team have been acknowledged yet again for their salons client experience after only weeks since scooping the JCI regional award.Following the glamorous awards ceremony on Friday night Patrick expressed his delight at their success in the awards. The main salon floor in Patrick Gildea’s new hairdressing studio at the Riverside Retail Park.“We are absolutely thrilled to accept this National Award from the JCI, our client experience is something that we focus on improving every day and our salon interior and layout along with a talented team helps us to achieve this,” he said.Patrick’s vision for the customer was a salon focused on creating a truly unique hairdressing experience unrivalled in the North West, accompanied with affordable prices with an experience that is within everyone’s reach.Designed from an empty shell this salon has left nothing to chance with high ceilings to create a beautiful sense of space and a massive importance put on natural light from large glass windows, exquisite decor, amazing atmosphere, optional quiet room and a private room- the whole experience says sophistication.Commenting on their success Patrick added “ We as a team genuinely love coming to work every day and are delighted that our vision has been acknowledged by succeeding in this National award, we look forward to continuously enhance our customer experience through our determination in delivering excellent customer service every day”. A simple glance in the shop front of this luxurious yet welcoming salon highlights exactly why Patrick Gildea Hairdressing was successful in this award category. There is no other hairdressing establishment that provides such a beautiful environment for their customers and staff. It’s hard to believe that this space was once an empty shell it’s certainly not empty now…it’s absolutely buzzing and rightly so.For full information on all services check out GILDEA HAIRDRESSING SCOOPS NATIONAL AWARD was last modified: October 5th, 2014 by StephenShare 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:awardletterkennyPatrick Gildea Hairdressing Salonlast_img read more

How Steph Curry influenced Luka Doncic and a new generation of scorers

first_imgDALLAS — Two months after being selected third overall in the 2018 draft, Luka Doncic flew to the Bay Area for a private workout with Stephen Curry. There, Doncic was exposed to the work Curry puts into honing his skills.“He does things you can’t guard,” Doncic told reporters last season. “It’s just nuts what he does.”More than a year later, after winning rookie of the year in his first season with the Dallas Mavericks, Doncic had the ball in his hands with less than 30 seconds left in a …last_img

All Bears Are Brethren

first_imgThe world-wide variations on bears could have come from one original type.American black bears can vary in color from tan to blackIt has been known that Alaskan brown bears can hybridize with polar bears. The resulting mixed breeds, sometimes called ‘pizzlies’ or ‘cappucino bears’, were thought to be rare. Now, in a surprising study from Senckenberg Research Institute and Natural History Museum, scientists have found that mixed breeds of bears are not as rare as they had assumed:Senckenberg scientists have sequenced the entire genomes of four bear species, making it now possible to analyze the evolutionary history of all bears at the genome level. It shows that gene flow, or gene exchange, between species by extensive hybridization, is possible between most bear species — not only polar and brown bear.”The breeding between different species is now seen to extend to Asian sun bears. The researchers figure that brown bears can act as a ‘vector species’ causing gene flow from different parts of the world, between polar bears and Asian sun bears, for instance.Some bears are good tree climbers; others are not.This realization has broader implications. Have scientists been wrong to consider the various kinds of bears separate species? If interbreeding and hybridization is possible across the globe, what does the term species mean?The detected gene flow among bears also questions the basic biological concept of a species. The biological species definition assumes that different species cannot produce offspring in the wild or that hybrid offspring are sterile. The best-known example of this is the mule — a hybrid between a horse and a donkey. However, it has been observed that grolars, the hybrids between polar and grizzly bears, are often fertile. Janke: “We have to ask ourselves: Does the species concept still hold true, given there is evidence of gene flow not only in bears, but also in other animals? Therefore, what do we need to protect for the future — species or genomic diversity? .”Undoubtedly the findings will also impact evolutionary theory.Creationists often assert that the many varieties of animal families (e.g., cats, dogs, horses) could have diversified from original created kinds. Only those original parent stock would have been needed on Noah’s ark. From the breeding pairs, all the varieties could have descended in just centuries or millennia. This research goes against evolutionary expectations—the article uses the word “assumed” three times, in the sense that the findings undermine previous assumptions. Animals diversify and adapt not due to mutation and selection, but due to expression of inherent variability the Creator gave them to fit into changing environments, which would have been extreme after the Flood with ice ages and climate extremes. No doubt this also accounts for the wide variation in other families, and even in the outward appearances of ‘hominins’ that represent the one human race created in God’s image. We humans are all family brethren, and so is br’er bear.Grizzly, by Carolyn Randall(Visited 480 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Corrupt Peer Review Needs a Reformation

first_imgThe ostensible gold standard of scientific reliability, peer review, looks more like fool’s gold in many cases. Reforming it will require an overhaul, not just corrections.Evolutionists sometimes hammer creationists with peer review. They sneer, ‘Point me to some of your peer-reviewed work and I might begin to take it seriously.” This attitude overlooks a number of flawed assumptions, among them: (1) that peer review elevates a paper to a higher plane of scientific reliability, (2) that creationists do not have peer review (they do, but most often in their own journals), (3) that evolutionary journals would treat creationist submissions fairly (which they do not; they are excluded a priori), and (4) that reviewers are unbiased saints without ulterior motives or flaws. Another faulty assumption is that peer review has always been a criterion of science, when in fact, many honored works, including Newton’s Principia and (ironically) Darwin’s Origin of Species (touted by atheists as the greatest scientific work ever penned), were not peer reviewed. Peer review has had a spotty history, only in recent decades following any kind of regular protocol.Solomon recommended seeking a multitude of counselors (Proverbs 11:14) almost two millennia ago. That’s not exclusive wisdom for scientists. Most importantly, any form of peer review or counsel clearly depends on the honesty of the reviewers.This month marks the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Luther (and just about everyone else at the time) saw the corruption of a religious system that arrogated to itself the sole right of review, as it were, of what was orthodox and what was heretical. Luther’s original hope for debate and rational discussion quickly degenerated into a standoff, in which the entrenched powers of tradition ordered him to recant his views. In good conscience, he could not. The rest is history; it took a Reformation, not a discussion, to achieve lasting change.A similar situation is happening right now with peer review. There’s a revolt going on among scientists who feel that mere revisions to tradition will probably not be able to cure the corruption. Here is some recent news on the coming reformation in peer review:Can editors save peer review from peer reviewers? (PLoS One). The authors find that reform is unlikely to help, and seem to agree that a reformation is necessary. Luther could probably relate to the human foibles corrupting today’s scientific peer review:Peer review is the gold standard for scientific communication, but its ability to guarantee the quality of published research remains difficult to verify. Recent modeling studies suggest that peer review is sensitive to reviewer misbehavior, and it has been claimed that referees who sabotage work they perceive as competition may severely undermine the quality of publications. Here we examine which aspects of suboptimal reviewing practices most strongly impact quality, and test different mitigating strategies that editors may employ to counter them. We find that the biggest hazard to the quality of published literature is not selfish rejection of high-quality manuscripts but indifferent acceptance of low-quality ones. Bypassing or blacklisting bad reviewers and consulting additional reviewers to settle disagreements can reduce but not eliminate the impact. The other editorial strategies we tested do not significantly improve quality, but pairing manuscripts to reviewers unlikely to selfishly reject them and allowing revision of rejected manuscripts minimize rejection of above-average manuscripts. In its current form, peer review offers few incentives for impartial reviewing efforts. Editors can help, but structural changes are more likely to have a stronger impact.Preprint ecosystems (Jeremy Berg in Science Magazine). Preprint servers are exploding on the web as alternatives to peer review. Cornell’s arXiv service for physicists has had legs for a number of years; now biologists are embracing the trend as a bioRxiv service spreads its wings. Although preprint authors may subject their work to peer review before final publication, the internet has enabled scientists fed up with tradition to do an end run around peer review and get feedback on their ideas instantly. This leaves traditional journals like Science in a quandary. They don’t want to stop the reformation, but they still want to maintain some of their power to keep ‘official’ science under their wing:The Science family of journals accepts the submission of a research paper for which a preprint of the submitted version is posted on not-for-profit servers such as arXiv and bioRxiv, as we support mechanisms that relate to the rapid communication of findings within the scientific community. We encourage authors to discuss with our editors any postings to other servers, and we encourage our editors to become involved in discussions about preprint-related issues as they evolve. Interactions with the press related to preprints has become one challenging area. When preprints of papers that are of potential interest to the press and the public are available, reporters on occasion approach authors prior to peer-reviewed publication. If a paper is under consideration in a Science-family journal, we leave it up to authors as to how they respond to media inquiries, but do note that media coverage could be taken into account by editors when considering novelty and make it difficult to embargo the paper if accepted for publication. We believe that giving reporters access to papers that will soon appear in our journals, on an embargoed basis, leads to more complete and accurate reporting of important science stories.The preprint dilemma (Jocelyn Kaiser in Science). Speaking for the establishment, Kaiser worries about new problems that the rush toward preprints might cause. And yet it’s a dilemma for the journals because they don’t want to position themselves as antagonists toward a popular reformation. She sounds like a medieval apologist for the church trying to give calm, rational objections to what Luther’s actions might lead to, while keeping some semblance of order for traditional power structures. In the subheading, “Will preprints replace journals?” comes this statement: “Some proponents predict that preprint servers will become the favored venue for publishing and critiquing findings, and will eventually replace peer-reviewed journals altogether,” she says, giving this diplomatically-worded talking point in favor of Holy Mother Science: “For the moment, that appears to be a minority view.”Publishers threaten to remove millions of papers from ResearchGate (Nature). Integrity applies to both authors and reviewers. A number of scientists, fed up with the paywalls of the standard journals, have taken advantage of the internet’s easy flow of information to post copyrighted papers on “the world’s largest scholarly social network.” It’s not quite as evil as BitTorrent has been for musicians denied their fair compensation, because participants in ResearchGate postings can rationalize that publicly funded research should be publicly available. Who owns the rights to this ‘intellectual property’? The current controversy sounds historically familiar. In Luther’s day, outraged peasants felt cheated out of the Holy Scriptures intended for all mankind that a powerful religious order was keeping from them. In a kind of counter-reformation, the journals are fighting back against the undercutting of their bread and butter (i.e., journal sales) by suing and ordering take-down of illegal postings. Much as they want to stop the leaks, their suggested judicial fingers in the internet dike are unlikely to prevent a flood, since there are many ways around the fingers. Many scientists, for instance, commonly share papers via email, using their institution’s group subscriptions, or post their work on their personal web pages.Influence, integrity, and the FDA: An ethical framework (Science Magazine). While not about peer review per se, this Policy Forum statement from the AAAS underscores the principle that review or regulation are only as good as the integrity of the reviewers or regulators.Among the core missions of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are protecting public health by assuring the safety and efficacy of drugs, biologics, and medical devices and advancing public health by promoting scientific research and medical innovation. According to its mandate, the decisions made by the FDA in fulfilling these missions should be guided by scientific considerations, not economic or political ones. However, several recent, high-profile episodes have highlighted the fact that the FDA is buffeted by many external influences. Such controversies require us to distinguish between legitimate influences that would improve the FDA or enhance its regulatory mission, illegitimate influences that seek to corrupt or undermine the agency, and influences that may be legitimate but nevertheless harm public health or patient outcomes. We present a decision framework to assist regulators, policy-makers, judges, physicians, and the public in evaluating the legitimacy and value of external influences on the FDA.This may sound all fine and good, but in reality, one group of fallible humans seeks to arrogate to itself the right to tell other fallible humans what they should do. What influences are acting on the authors of this policy statement? On what basis do they determine legitimacy or corruption in the FDA’s dealings, if not by appealing to an external standard of morality? If the government responded by issuing a policy statement requiring analysis of the legitimacy of the AAAS, what would the AAAS say? Who’s fixing the fixers?The Bible has an absolute standard of morality, but evolutionary theory does not. In evolution, might makes right. Like in a cage match, it’s about survival in the struggle for existence. Put the AAAS and the FDA in the iron cage and let them fight to the finish. The winner gets the belt of legitimacy. If scientists and journals find this picture deplorable, let them acknowledge the Ten Commandments, or point to some other timeless, universal canon of integrity that is not composed of matter in motion. Good luck finding one in Darwin’s views.(Visited 335 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Boost for St Lucia’s ‘green school’

first_img28 January 2003The donation of R200 000 worth of computer software and furniture to a Wildlands Trust “green school” could help pave the way to future wetland conservation in KwaZulu-Natal.The donation was made this week by Unilever South Africa as part of the Living Lakes project and will ensure that local pupils in the Lake St Lucia region are taught about the importance of their environment.Lake St Lucia was the first “member lake” in the global Living Lakes programme – an international partnership that promotes voluntary international collaboration among organisations that carry out projects benefiting lakes, wildlife and people.Unilever’s co-chairman, Niall Fitzgerald, met with the children and teachers from the Wildlands Trust “green school” that borders the lake to hand over the donation.“Businesses have to be partners in addressing the problems of society and the environment,” he said. “We are not separate from society – we are part of it.”Unilever South Africa has committed funding, resources and the expertise of over 50 staff members to environmental projects in St Lucia over the past five years.The programme was recognised as an example of global best practice in the area of sustainable partnerships at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg last year.Local community support is essential for conserving wetlands, and Unilever has focused on encouraging environmental awareness and conservation principles among the local Khula village residents.Examples of these programmes include the development of environmental education materials, building a technology centre and providing furniture for the local school. It also includes taking local leaders on wilderness trails, helping eradicate alien plants from the rare forests, and helping to implement endangered wildlife protection programmes.Wildlands Trust chief executive officer Andrew Venter said: “Unilever’s vision is the same as ours – to create sustainability, particularly for deprived communities – through conservation awareness and development.”The Wildlands Trust is an independent fund-raising and project management organisation concerned with conservation-based community development in KwaZulu-Natal.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

2010 medical ops centre for Polokwane

first_img9 February 2010Plans are under way to set up a medical operations centre in Polokwane to assist with any incidents that might arise at the Peter Mokaba Stadium during the 2010 Fifa World Cup.Provincial Health Departmental spokesperson Selby Makgotho said the centre, to be located at the department’s provincial offices, will be linked to the stadium whenever the matches are being played.The centre will have a telephone line, two-way radio, television, laptop, emergency lighting system, fire extinguishers and first-aid equipment.The teams that will play at the state-of-the-art Peter Mokaba Stadium are Algeria, Slovenia, France, Mexico, Greece, Argentina, Paraguay and New Zealand.Health facilitiesThe provincial 2010 health committee said it was pleased with moves to set up the centre as well as progress made towards the final preparations for the event.The committee, which met at the weekend, confirmed that Polokwane, Mankweng Hospital Complex, Lebowakgomo, Mokopane, Seshego, and Polokwane – Medi Clinic Hospital were ready for the World Cup.Key facilities at these hospitals such as theatre operations, trauma centres and intensive care units have gone through an intensive checking process and will be ready to handle any casualty during the event.Emergency responseMakgotho said mobile services have been arranged for the tournament which include eight emergency response vehicles to be stationed at the stadium and fan parks; five disaster busses; five rescue vehicles; one helicopter (for aero medical services) and five mobile intensive care units.Two of the five buses have already arrived and the remaining three will be ready in April.It is expected that the 548 posts for emergency medical services officers will be filled before the commencement of the tournament in June. At the moment, there are about 1 500 emergency medical personnel who will be working during the World Cup.Source: BuaNewslast_img read more

R113m growth grant for Liberia

first_imgLiberia signed a R113-million grantagreement with the US MillenniumChallenge Corporation to financedevelopment in the country (Image: Hannelie Coetzee, Formore free photos, visit the image library) MEDIA CONTACTS • Amanda Burke +202 521 3850 RELATED ARTICLES • SA allocates R500m for black farmers • Poor schools score textbooks • SA colleges get $6.7m boost • $90bn boost to Africa’s economyNosimilo RamelaLiberia has been awarded a R113-million (US$15-million) grant from the US Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) to help it fight poverty, improve primary education for girls, broaden access to land and boost trade.The signing took place at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Liberia’s capital city of Monrovia on 6 July 2010. Speaking at the event, MCC senior advisor Cassandra Butts said the grant would help finance key development areas identified by the Liberian government.“The areas of priorities represent key constraints to economic growth, identified by Liberians as part of their own national development strategy,” she said.Set up by US Congress in January 2004, the MCC is an independent US government aid agency that assists countries committed to economic and political development.The grant will be made available to Liberia through a three-year threshold programme that will focus on challenges highlighted in Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.One of the objectives is to increase the number of girls enrolling in primary schools and keep them in the school system for as long as possible. The creation of a scholarship programme for girls, providing grants to communities to improve the education environment, mentoring programmes and awareness campaigns are some of the means of achieving this.“Liberia has made tremendous progress in its development effort and this grant will help buttress our poverty reduction strategy,” said Amara Konnah, Liberia’s planning minister.Turning to land issues, the threshold programme is expected to promote equal access to property and increased land security. This will go hand-in-hand with the Liberian government’s plan to boost citizens’ understanding of property rights issues, rebuild land administration and surveying capacity, and make the land registration and transfer process more efficient for locals.The grant will also help the country improve trade policy and practices, particularly when it comes to harmonising tariffs, working with regional and global bodies, and strengthening the regulatory environment.According to the grant agreement, the threshold programme will be administered by the US Agency for International Development (USAID), which will be responsible for coordination, contracting and financial management. The MCC will oversee the programme.The MCC board of directors, who decided that Liberia should get the grant, said the country had made significant progress in many MCC eligibility indicators.USAID said the country showed a strong commitment to transformation aimed at fostering economic growth and poverty reduction.Africa’s long-term ambitionSpeaking at the signing ceremony, Donald Payne , chairperson of the US House Subcommittee on Africa and Global Health, congratulated Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and the people of the country for meeting what she called “strict criteria which warrants the threshold agreement”.Payne stressed the importance of schooling in Liberia, especially for girls, and noted Sirleaf’s commitment to this issue. As an accomplished female leader herself, Sirleaf is seen as the ideal role-model for this sector of the population.At the ceremony Sirleaf thanked the host of delegates for visiting Liberia and praised President Barack Obama’s administration for continuing with the MCC programme.She then spoke about the establishment of the Liberian Education Trust, which is providing scholarships for girls to breach the gender gap, but warned that far more still needs to be done.“Retaining them in school is the issue,” she said. “While there may be many girls at the primary level now, by the time they reach upper classes, they begin to drop out due to poverty or sexual abuse. The MCC programme will help our government tackle those problems.”Switching from education to commerce, Sirleaf outlined one of her country’s key policies, which favours moving away from a reliance on aid towards economic growth driven by trade. She concluded that this policy is Africa’s long-term ambition.last_img read more

Full text: South Africa’s 2016 Budget speech

first_imgEmphasising that South Africans are “resilient, committed and resourceful”, Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan delivered his 2016 Budget speech to the National Assembly in Parliament on Wednesday 24 February.“I have a simple message,” Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said in the introduction to his 2016 Budget speech. “We are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to manage and overcome our economic challenges.” (Image: GCIS)Read the full speech, watch the video, and download key documents.Download:2016 Budget: full textThe People’s Guide to the 2016 BudgetNational Budget HighlightsTax Pocket GuideMore downloads on the National Treasury websiteWatch: 2016 Budget Speech – Pravin Gordhan, Minister of FinanceJump to:IntroductionOverviewGlobal economic outlookSouth African economic outlookGrowth and developmentInvestment and sustainable growthFiscal consolidationTax proposalsSocial security, health insurance and retirement reformState-owned entitiesThe 2016 Budget: Government’s Action PlanGrowth, inclusion and social cohesionThanksConclusionIntroductionI have the honour to present the 2016 Budget of President Zuma’s second administration.We do so in a spirit of frankness, both about our challenges and the opportunity to turn our economy’s direction towards hope, confidence and a better future for all.Low growth, high unemployment, extreme inequality and hurtful fractures in our society – these are unacceptable to all of us.I have a simple message. We are strong enough, resilient enough and creative enough to manage and overcome our economic challenges.All of us want jobs, thriving businesses, engaged professionals, narrowing inequality, and fewer people in poverty.All of us want a new values paradigm, a society at peace with itself, a nation energised by the task of building stronger foundations for our future society and economy.We want our government to function effectively, our people to work in dignity, with resources for their families, decent homes and opportunities for their children.We want to see progress throughout our land, in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, construction, tourism, science and research, sport and leisure, trade and commerce.It is within our grasp to achieve this future.It requires bold and constructive leadership in all sectors, a shared vision, a common purpose, and the will to find common ground. Above all we need action, not just words.Let us unite as a team, sharing our skills and resources, building social solidarity, defending the institutions of our democracy and developing our economy inclusively.We do have a plan, to:Manage our finances in a prudent and sustainable way,Reignite confidence and mobilise the resources of all social partners,Collectively invest more in infrastructure to increase potential growth,Give hope to our youth through training and economic opportunities,Protect South Africans from the effects of the drought,Continuously improve our education and health systems,Accelerate transformation towards an inclusive economy and participation by all,Strengthen social solidarity and extend our social safety net.The Budget rests on the idea of an inclusive social contract, encompassing an equitable burden of tax and a progressive programme of expenditures.The Budget relies on institutions of good governance and a public ethic that values honesty and fairness.If we act together, on these principles, as public representatives, civil servants, business people, youth, workers and citizens, we can overcome the challenges of tough economic times and difficult adjustments.In acting together we can address declining confidence and the retreat of capital, and we can combat emerging patterns of predatory behaviour and corruption.We are conscious of the difficulties we face. Our resilience as a nation, black and white, can propel us to a better future if we make the right choices.Honourable Speaker, I hereby table before the House:• The 2016 Budget Speech• The 2016 Budget Review, includingThe fiscal frameworkThe revenue proposals, customs and excise duties and estimates of national revenueOur responses to the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Reports• The Division of Revenue Bill• The Appropriation Bill• The Estimates of National ExpenditureIn addition, I am introducing the Revenue Laws Amendment Bill 2016 to adjust certain provisions regarding to retirement funds, and related matters.These are our budget proposals, and I look forward to further engagement through the Parliamentary budget process. Overview of the BudgetHonourable Speaker, the past year has seen a deterioration in the global economy.In our own region, weaker business confidence coincides with a severe drought, bringing with it rising prices and threats to water supply in many areas.In addition we are obliged to confront the impact of slow growth on our public finances, while continuing to respond to the expectations of citizens and communities for improved education, reliable local services and responsive public administration.The combination of multiple demands and constrained resources at times seems overwhelming. How does the state deal with such complexity? What should we prioritise?As in the past, we have sought advice from citizens. This year, I sought budget pointers on several specific things: What does government do well? What should we stop doing? How can we achieve inclusive growth?On what we do well, South Africans have very clear views: Tax administration. And paying social grants.What we should stop doing: Corruption and waste. Bailing out state entities.How to support inclusive growth: Support for small business. Job opportunities targeting the youth.I greatly appreciate the response from so many South Africans – over 1500 in all. Mr Faiek Sonday, and Ms Thuli Ngubane are with us today.Mr Sonday’s advice was: “We should build more roads and train routes, because the sooner you get a worker at the desk or machine the more productive the economy will be.”And Ms Ngubane expressed the views of so many tipsters: “Let our schools’ infrastructure be improved so that all schools are conducive to learning. This will ensure that we produce the quality of students that can take our country forward.”We agree, and indeed these are central priorities of the National Development Plan.As points of departure for the 2016 Budget, Honourable Speaker, allow me to emphasise several broad principles that flow through our NDP:It is a programme for inclusive growth – our social programmes, industrial action plan, promotion of agriculture and rural development, skills and training initiatives, investment in housing and municipal services are aimed at both prosperity and equity, creating opportunities for all and broadening economic participation.It is a plan for a strong mixed economy – in which public services and state actions complement private investment, expansion of trade and social enterprise.It recognises that improvements in the quality of education are the foundations of broad-based growth, productivity improvement and sustainable growth.It acknowledges that investment in infrastructure has to be enhanced and sustained both to underpin economic growth and address the spatial inefficiency and fragmentation of the apartheid landscape.It emphasises that employment creation has to be accelerated if growth is to be inclusive, and that income security for all relies also on appropriate social security, health services and social development programmes.It prioritises building the capability of the state, and strong leadership throughout society, to drive development and promote social cohesion.It highlights that partnership between government, business, organised labour and civil society is the key to policy coherence and more rapid development.The Budget tabled today is guided by the NDP. It is a budget for inclusive growth, it emphasises partnerships amongst role players in our economy, it prioritises education and infrastructure investment, it supports employment creation and it contributes to building a capable, developmental state.In brief, we propose the following:Against the background of slow growth, rising debt and higher interest rates, the pace of fiscal consolidation will be accelerated. The budget deficit will be reduced to 2.4 per cent by 2018/19.The expenditure ceiling is cut over the next three years by R25 billion, mainly by curtailing personnel spending.Tax increases amounting to R18 billion in 2016/17 are proposed, and a further R15 billion a year in 2017/18 and 2018/19.An additional R16 billion is allocated to higher education over the next three years, funded through reprioritisation of expenditure plans.Taking into account projected increases in the cost of living, R11.5 billion is added to social grant allocations over the next three years.Funds have been reprioritised to respond to the impact of the drought on the farming sector and water-stressed communities.In support of growth and development, Honourable Speaker, our initiatives are also aimed at enabling and mobilising private sector and civil society capacity.Building on the success of our Renewable Energy initiatives, the Independent Power Producers Programme will be extended to include coal and gas power projects over the period ahead.Measures to strengthen tourism, agriculture and agro-processing are in progress.Collaboration with regional partner countries is being stepped up to improve border management, streamline trade flows and invest in transport and communications corridors.Investment in our cities is being accelerated, creating opportunities for participation of developers and other partners in housing, infrastructure and commercial development.Regulatory challenges that affect mining investment and employment are being addressed.A pathbreaking study of the cost of doing business has been completed, and municipalities are working on identified reforms.Progress has been made towards a minimum wage framework, and to reduce workplace conflict.The National Health Insurance White Paper has been published, and proposals for comprehensive social security will be released by mid-year.Engagement with social partners needs to be intensified. Project plans and investments need to be managed and implemented.But I know you will join me in acknowledging that the real champions of our development are the activists and entrepreneurs, officials and facilitators, who get on with the job, day by day, of managing programmes and running businesses, serving communities and meeting needs.Our faith communities, non-governmental organisations and community volunteers all demonstrate daily that basic needs can be met with dignity. Initiatives like Operation Hydrate and Gift of the Givers have led the way in responding to the impact of the drought. The Gauteng province’s Ntirhisano outreach programme similarly emphasises that communities can be co-partners with government in accelerating service delivery. We can strengthen these efforts as government, business, religious and community organisations, by working together. Global economic outlookHonourable Members, South Africa’s economic prospects are intertwined with global economic developments. A period of unprecedented monetary stimulus in response to the 2008 recession is not yet over, and global volatility and structural imbalances are far from resolved.The pace of economic growth has slowed in many countries. The price of oil has fallen by 50 per cent since December 2014.Our major exports – platinum, gold, iron ore and coal – have seen substantial declines in global demand and in prices. The effects on our economy are widespread:lower export earningslower revenuedeclining investmentjob losses, and in some cases business failuresFor the world as a whole, growth declined from 3.4 per cent in 2014 to an estimated 3.1 per cent last year. In sub-Saharan Africa, the decline was from 5 per cent to 3½ per cent. A moderate recovery is expected over the next two years.It is notable that faster growth is being achieved in countries which have undertaken bold structural reforms, such as India’s scaling back of subsidies for industry and opening up of trade opportunities, and the promotion of skilled immigration, urban investment and labour-intensive manufacturing and agro-processing in South-east Asian and several African economies. These efforts have helped boost investor sentiment and reduce economic vulnerabilities.Our own structural challenges and reforms are articulated in the National Development Plan. Our economic recovery depends on our ability to convert the plan into actions that deliver on the promise for a better life for all. South African economic outlookFellow South Africans, growth rates of below 1 per cent fall short of what we need to create employment and reduce poverty and inequality. The Treasury currently expects growth in the South African economy to be just 0.9 per cent this year, after 1.3 per cent in 2015. This reflects both depressed global conditions and the impact of the drought.It also reflects policy uncertainty, the effect of protracted labour disputes on business confidence, electricity supply constraints and regulatory barriers to investment.However, the institutional foundations of our economy remain resilient:Macroeconomic policy is effective,The inflation targeting framework provides an anchor for price and wagesetting,Our banks and financial institutions are well-capitalised, and we have liquid rand-denominated debt marketsThe architecture of our Constitution, justice system, public and private law and dispute resolution mechanisms is robustWe have excellent universities and research centresWe have a strong private sectorWe are a resourceful people, committed to contributing to a better South AfricaMr Raymond Wesley wrote to me as follows: “As South Africans, we don’t have an appreciation of the strides we’ve made. Minister, show South Africans, especially the rich, that people’s lives have changed for the better.”This is true, yet there is more to be done.We are resilient, we are committed, we are resourceful. We know how to turn adversity into opportunity.In the numbers, Honourable Speaker, there are indicators that an economic turnaround is possible if we build confidence and make the right choices.Business services, tourism and communication services continued to expand over the past year, contributing positively to job creation.While overall agricultural output has declined under severe drought conditions, there has been strong growth in several export products, including nuts and berries, grapes and both deciduous and citrus fruits.Overall export growth by volume was over 9 per cent last year, and will continue to benefit from the competitiveness of the rand. South African exports to the rest of Africa now exceed R300 billion a year, up from about R230 billion just three years ago.Retail trade data for the last quarter of 2015 indicate growth of over 4 per cent in real terms, signalling that consumer spending remains buoyant despite declining confidence.Investments amounting to over R20 billion have recently been announced in the automotive sector.Yet our economy is not growing fast enough to raise employment or improve average incomes, Honourable Speaker. Investment growth must be substantially scaled up. Growth and developmentSo we are resolved to restore the momentum of growth, to ensure that it is inclusive and sustainable, and to preserve our economy’s investment-grade status.As Minister Nene put it in his October Medium Term Budget Policy Statement address: “If we do not achieve growth, revenue will not increase. If revenue does not increase, expenditure cannot be expanded.”This means we must address institutional and regulatory barriers to business investment and growth. It means we must give greater impetus to sectors and industries where we have competitive advantages. And it means being bold where there is need for structural change, innovation and doing things differently. We need agility and urgency in implementation.International experience has demonstrated that growth is ignited by strong and stable political and economic institutions, sound infrastructure that reduces the cost of doing business and facilitates trade, competition between firms and openness to trade and an environment where firms invest and undertake research and development. We also know that the more inclusive the economy the greater its scope for growth.These are the challenges we hear in South Africa today.We are responding to appeals from the business sector for greater certainty in respect of policies that affect investment decisions.We are engaging with proposals from organised labour for a minimum wage policy, and for progress on opportunities for young people.We are responding to action in communities where services are missing or badly managed.We are crafting solutions to the voices of students regarding fees and housing.I need to emphasise that violent protest is not an acceptable way of articulating these challenges.Also, in these and other areas, the choices we make cannot meet every need, and the action we require involves collective action by many stakeholders. Today’s Budget sets out government’s plans for the next three years, building on what we have achieved since 1994. It also signals the actions underway to improve policy coordination and collaboration between social partners and stakeholders.As outlined by the President, initiatives are in progress to address our policy coordination and implementation challenges.Over 80 bills and plans have been reviewed since September last year as part of the new socio-economic impact assessment programme, under Minister Radebe’s oversight. The aim is to address possible regulatory constraints pro-actively before they take effect.Visa regulations have been revised following consultation between Ministers Gigaba and Hanekom and concerns raised by the tourism industry.Talks are in progress under Minister Olifant’s leadership to improve workplace dispute resolution procedures.Minister Davies is introducing a new investment promotion agency to streamline administrative procedures and enhance our position as an African financial centre.Special economic zones and employment-intensive sectors with export potential have been prioritised for support by the Industrial Development Corporation.Initiatives to transform ownership of land and improve productivity in agriculture are under way, and Ministers Zokwana and Nkwinti are addressing drought-related challenges in rural areas.Under Minister Molewa’s guidance, South Africa’s response to the global climate change challenge has been prepared, and work with the National Business Initiative on the green economy has been strengthened.Our environmental employment programmes continue to earn international recognition. The Community Work Programme is expanding its reach and Jobs Fund partnership projects of R12 billion have been approved.Building on the Phakisa oceans economy initiative, a R9 billion investment in rig repair and maintenance facilities at Saldanha Bay is planned, and work has begun on a new gas terminal and oil and ship repair facilities at Durban.Minister Joemat-Pettersson is overseeing our renewable energy, coal and gas IPP programme, and preparatory work for investment in nuclear power.Minister Pandor’s department is leading work on beneficiation initiatives, including titanium, fuel cells, fluorochemicals and composite materials.Minister Motshekga is working with social partners on the National Education Collaboration Trust to identify and implement school improvement initiatives.In recent weeks, President Zuma, other Ministers and I have engaged with business leaders to understand their concerns and views. Confidence and shared understanding have been reinforced. These engagements are clearly critical to boosting our economy, and must be extended to include regional forums and other stakeholders.We particularly welcome the working groups that have been established and several practical proposals for joint action. These include a collaborative initiative to combat corruption and abuse of tender procedures, a new fund to accelerate small and medium enterprise development and measures to build investor confidence and contribute to social cohesion.By removing constraints, supporting innovation, protecting jobs, diversifying our economy and exploring new opportunities, we can expand growth prospects. Our economic outlook is not what it should be, global uncertainty and the drought are very real challenges, but our efforts to build a better future continue. We are resilient, we are committed, we are resourceful.By working together we can increase growth, broaden participation and inspire confidence in our economy and society. Investment and sustainable growthHonourable Members, the economist Dani Rodrik has recently noted that in those countries that are still growing rapidly, despite global economic headwinds, public investment is doing much of the work. To finance the investment needed for sustainable growth, we have the institutional capacity to blend international and domestic savings, and to combine public and private sector financing to mitigate risk and reduce the cost of capital.The Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission, under Ministers Nkwinti and Patel, has brought greater coherence to our strategic investment plans. They have drawn attention to the need for multi-year appropriations for major capital projects. Reform in this regard is under consideration.Energy investment amounts to R70 billion this year and will be over R180 billion over the next three years, as construction of the Medupi, Kusile and Ingula power plants is completed.Transport and logistics infrastructure accounts for nearly R292 billion over the next three years under Minister Peters’ oversight. Transnet is acquiring 232 diesel locomotives for its general freight business and 100 locomotives for its coal lines. There is R3.7 billion to upgrade the Moloto Road, R30 billion for provincial roads maintenance, R18 billion for bus rapid transit projects in cities and refurbishment of over 1700 Metrorail and Shosholoza Meyl coaches.R62 billion is allocated for the housing subsidy programmes of Minister Sisulu’s department, and R34 billion for bulk infrastructure and residential services in metropolitan municipalities.R28 billion will be spent over the MTEF on improving health facilities and R54 billion on education infrastructure.Under Minister Mokonyane’s leadership, the next phase of the Olifants River water scheme is in progress, completion of the supply to Lukhanji Municipality in the Eastern Cape, completion of the Wolmaransstad wastewater treatment works and construction of the Polihali Dam as part of the Lesotho Highlands project.These are some components of the R870 billion public sector infrastructure programme over the next three years.But our growth and development depends also on an expanding envelope of enterprise investment in industry, mining and mineral beneficiation, agriculture and agro-processing, housing, commercial development and tourism facilities. There are also initiatives in progress to reinforce financing of these projects.The Industrial Development Corporation continues to play a leading role in financing manufacturing and beneficiation. It plans to invest R100 billion over the next five years, including R23 billion set aside to support black industrialists.We have completed a R7.9 billion capital transfer to the Development Bank of Southern Africa, approved in 2013, which enables it to expand lending and implementation support to municipalities, and to complement private sector funding of strategic infrastructure projects. The Bank aims to increase lending by R48 billion over the next three years. Initiatives to reinforce municipal implementation capacity have been prioritised.The Land Bank has set aside a concessionary loan facility to assist farmers in recovering from the impact of the current drought conditions. Over the next three years R15 billion is allocated for land acquisition, farm improvements and expanding agro-processing opportunities.I am also pleased to confirm that the New Development Bank will open its Africa Regional Centre in Johannesburg next month. Our first instalment of R2 billion was paid in December last year, and the Budget makes provision for our further commitments over the medium term. This initiative gives impetus to our role as a financial centre for Africa, and will facilitate access to global finance by African investors and institutions.So the capacity to mobilise finance is in place. Amendments to bank regulations are proposed, furthermore, which will facilitate lending for long-term infrastructure investment.In energy, transport, telecommunication and urban development, there are many opportunities for joint public and private investment and facilities management.Corporate investment and participation by trade union funds in infrastructure development needs appropriate policies and market structure frameworks, clarifying the roles and linkages between public and private sector service providers. Progress in these regulatory arrangements is the key to more rapid investment and more inclusive growth in these sectors.Our working partnership with business leaders and social stakeholders, under President Zuma’s initiative, is about implementing these and other aspects of the National Development Plan. Fiscal consolidationThis year’s Budget, Honourable Speaker, is focused on fiscal consolidation. We cannot spend money we do not have. We cannot borrow beyond our ability to repay. Until we can ignite growth and generate more revenue, we have to be tough on ourselves.A central objective is to stabilise debt as a percentage of GDP. To achieve this, the new budget framework sets deficit targets for the next three years which are lower than the October Medium Term Budget Policy Statement projections. Spending plans are reduced, a higher revenue target is set and net national debt is projected to stabilise at 46.2 per cent of GDP in 2017/18, and to decline after that.These budget proposals signal government’s commitment to a prudent, sustainable fiscal policy trajectory, and respond directly to the changed circumstances since the 2015 MTBPS was tabled.Honourable Members, we have had to take into account the slowdown in revenue associated with slower economic growth over the past year. In last year’s Budget we projected total tax revenue of R1 081 billion. The revised estimate is R11.6 billion short of this total, but nonetheless about 8.5 per cent more than the 2014/15 outcome. This is a most commendable effort in the circumstances: all South Africans have contributed, and the 14 000 staff of the Revenue Service have done a sterling job.A consolidated revenue target of R1 324 billion is set for 2016/17, or 30.2 per cent of GDP. Expenditure will be R1 463 billion, leaving a budget deficit of R139 billion, or 3.2 per cent of GDP. The deficit will decline to 2.4 per cent in 2018/19.Details of the proposed adjustments are set out in the Budget Review. I have highlighted key spending priorities already. I need to emphasise that additional spending on higher education, small business development, and amounts set aside for responding to the drought and other contingencies, are accommodated through stringent cost containment measures across all departments.These include:Restrictions on filling managerial and administrative vacancies, subject to review of human resource plans and elimination of unnecessary positions;Reduced transfers for operating budgets of public entities;Capital budgeting reforms to align plans with budget allocations while strengthening maintenance procedures;Mandatory use of the new e-tender portal, thereby enforcing procurement transparency and accessible reference prices for a wide range of goods and services;A national travel and accommodation policy and instructions on conference costs;New guidelines to limit the value of vehicle purchases for political officebearers;Renegotiation of government leasing contracts;New centrally negotiated contracts for banking services, ICT infrastructure and services, health technology, school building and learner support materials.Initiatives of the Chief Procurement Officer will be extended to include monitoring of state-owned companies’ procurement plans and supply chain processes, and reviews of contracts above R10 million to ensure value for money. Centrally negotiated contracts will be mandatory with effect from April 2016.As Ms Nobuntu Mbelle advised me: “Minister, government should also tighten its belt.”The OCPO’s mandate is to achieve savings of R25 billion a year by the third year of the current MTEF period, out of a government procurement budget of about R500 billion a year. Our reform proposals draw on a consultation programme last year that reached over 7 000 suppliers and 2 500 supply chain practitioners, and attracted over 27 000 responses to a national survey.It is clear that we can achieve considerable savings to government, while also ensuring that procurement processes are streamlined and service providers are paid on time.I need to acknowledge the valued cooperation of Minister Ramatlhodi in addressing our personnel management challenges. Government procurement reforms also rely on collaboration with my colleagues and their respective departments: Minister Nxesi at Public Works, Minister Davies and Minister Zulu in respect of industrial participation, supplier development and black economic empowerment, and Minister Cwele on telecommunications and the rollout of broadband services, which is both an area of cost-saving in itself and an enabling condition for more efficient procurement systems and electronic communication.In saying this, Members of the House, I want to draw attention to the broader opportunities that well-managed public administration reforms offer. Investments by telecommunication partners in fast internet connectivity for schools, clinics and government buildings brings down the costs, over time, for internet connectivity for neighbouring homes and businesses. When government office accommodation projects are well planned, they create opportunities for commercial and residential development in the surrounding precinct. And government as an employer contributes to training and organisational development across the wider economy. Inclusive growth is in part about these linkages between public and private sector development. Tax proposalsInclusivity is also an important principle in our tax system, Honourable Speaker. South Africa has built one of the most effective tax authorities in the developing world. The Revenue Service has made huge strides over the past decade in enforcing the law while providing assistance to small businesses and individuals. Public compliance with tax obligations is high. I am deeply mindful that we have a corresponding obligation, as government, to improve the impact of every rand spent, and to eliminate waste and corruption.Inclusivity is also about the details of tax design, how it supports or hinders small and growing businesses, how the burden of tax is shared across individuals and households in different circumstances and in different income brackets, and how taxes contribute to environmental and health objectives.This year, in view of the need to raise additional revenue and reduce the budget deficit, we have paid special attention to the fairness and inclusivity of the tax system.We have also been mindful of the need to moderate the impact of tax increases on households and firms in the present economic context.Our tax proposals include the following:Personal income tax relief of R5.5 billion, which partially compensates for inflation, focused mainly on lower- and middle-income earners;An increase in the monthly medical tax credit allowances;An increase of 30 cents a litre in the general fuel levy;Introduction of a tyre levy to finance recycling programmes, increases in the incandescent globe tax, the plastic bag levy and the motor vehicle emissions tax;Introduction of a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages; andIncreases of between 6 and 8.5 per cent in the duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products.The Income Tax Act already contains measures to encourage provision of bursaries by employers to employees or their relatives. It is proposed that the income eligibility limits and qualifying bursary values should be increased. Inclusion of industry-based training organisations in the list of activities qualifying for tax-exemption is also under consideration.Our current taxes on wealth are under review by the Davis Committee. Higher capital gains inclusion rates are proposed, together with an increase in the annual amount above which capital gains become taxable. The transfer duty rate on properties above R10 million will increase from 11 per cent to 13 per cent, and measures are proposed to strengthen the estate duty and donations tax.We will continue to act aggressively against the evasion of tax through transfer pricing abuses, misuse of tax treaties and illegal money flows. Drawing on the work of the OECD, the G20 joint project on base erosion and profit shifting and independent bodies such as the Tax Justice Network, further measures will be taken to address such revenue losses, including inappropriate use of hybrid debt instruments.With effect from 2017, international agreements on information sharing will enable tax authorities to act more effectively against illicit flows and abusive practices by multinational corporations and wealthy individuals. Building on the expertise gained by the Large Business Centre since its establishment in 2004, SARS is well placed to take advantage of the new Common Reporting System. Our international collaboration is an essential part of efforts to ensure that the tax system remains robust and contributes to inclusive growth. I will announce further steps in this regard later in the year.Time is now running out for taxpayers who still have undisclosed assets abroad. With next year’s deadline in mind, additional relief will be offered for a period of six months, from October this year, to allow non-compliant taxpayers to regularise their affairs. Though not introduced today, we publish on our website the draft bill on the special voluntary disclosure programme and the rates and threshold bill. Social security, health insurance and retirement reformAlongside the impact of tax on take-home pay, Honourable Members, there are also contributions to pension and provident funds, group life arrangements and medical schemes. Not everyone makes these contributions, and so their benefits are not universally enjoyed.Our policy commitment is to achieve universal health coverage, and comprehensive social security. These contribute to the broader framework for inclusive growth, decent work, income security and social protection that forms part of the National Development Plan.These are not straightforward reforms. Health financing is complex, because the demands unavoidably exceed available funds. This is the case even in advanced rich countries. Retirement and social security reform is complex, because existing arrangements create long-term obligations, and the needs of today all too easily crowd out provision for tomorrow.Yet we must confront these challenges.Minister Motsoaledi has published the White Paper on National Health Insurance. He has rightly emphasised that public health service delivery improvements must be prioritised, and reform of the private health and medical scheme environment is needed. In order to take the White paper’s proposals forward, the Treasury will shortly release further details on financing aspects.In taking the comprehensive social security agenda forward, we have to recognise that existing social security arrangements are fragmented, which raises costs and leaves several social needs unaddressed.Minister Dlamini and I have a shared responsibility for the social security reform programme, which has to draw on both international good practice and interdepartmental work of recent years.Tighter regulation of the retirement funding industry is part of this reform effort. The intention is to protect members’ interest and ensure that funds are not dissipated by unnecessary administration and financial costs, and that an income in retirement is assured. Our engagements with stakeholders will continue this year.To support a greater national savings effort, we introduced Tax Free Savings Accounts last year. The response has been most gratifying – about 150 000 accounts have been opened, with savings totalling R1 billion. For those who have not yet taken this opportunity, you have until the end of this month to take advantage of this year’s R30 000 limit for special tax treatment in these accounts.Let me assure public servants, again, that reform of the retirement system will not affect their accrued pension rights. Indeed, I am pleased to report that the investment portfolio of the Government Employees’ Pension Fund grew by 12.2 per cent to R1.6 trillion in the year to March 2015. GEPF pensioners will receive a 5.3 per cent increase in April this year.The Revenue Laws Amendment Bill 2016 introduced today gives effect to the decision by Cabinet last week to postpone the annuitisation requirement for provident fund members for two years to allow for further consultation with key stakeholders. The tax benefits will continue to be implemented from 1 March 2016 for all retirement fund contributions, including for provident funds. State-owned entitiesState-owned companies, Honourable Speaker, have important roles to play in boosting growth and development. But there are issues to address in their governance, mandates, financing and operations.The recently released report of the Presidential Review Commission on State-Owned Enterprises is a very welcome guide to the path ahead. It rightly emphasises that effective leadership is central to progress. It notes that our infrastructure financing requirements are huge, and require effective co-funding arrangements between SOCs and other investors.The asset base of state owned entities is over R1 trillion, equivalent to about 27 per cent of GDP. They maintain networks and provide services – power, roads, transport, water, communications – on which the rest of the economy depends.But the PRC report indicates that the mandates of some of our entities overlap, some operate in markets that should be more transparently competitive and some are no longer relevant to our development agenda. Some are in perpetual financial difficulties. So we must take decisive steps to ensure that they are effectively governed and that they contribute appropriately to the attainment of the National Development Plan.Firstly, as President Zuma has indicated, entities that are no longer necessary should be phased out. The resources raised or saved will be redirected to the balance sheets of SOCs that should grow.Secondly, where entities have overlapping mandates, rationalisation options will be pursued. The merger of our housing DFIs is already in progress. There are entities with regulatory responsibilities where capacity should be combined. We have national and provincial entities with diverse property holdings, interests in farming or trading or manufacturing enterprises – often inherited from the pre-1994 dispensation, typically buried in subsidiary companies that are not publicly accountable. These are unnecessary state investments, and often a drain on government resources. They are also assets with potential for growth in independent hands.It seems clear, furthermore, that we do not need to be invested in four airline businesses. Minister Brown and I have agreed to explore the possible merger of SAA and SA Express, under a strengthened board, with a view to engaging with a potential minority equity partner, and to create a bigger and more operationally efficient airline.Thirdly, the balance sheets of several entities with extensive infrastructure investment responsibilities are now stretched to their limits. Government has provided support in the form of guarantees, which now total R467 billion or 11.5 per cent of GDP. This is a source of pressure on the sovereign rating. Yet we need to accelerate infrastructure investment in the period ahead. So we must broaden the range and scope of our co-funding partnerships with private sector investors. This requires an appropriate framework to govern concession agreements and associated debt and equity instruments, and appropriate regulation of the market structure.In taking this forward, we are able to draw on our experience in road funding concessions, in building the renewable energy market, and in promoting broadband telecommunications. Across these and other sectors we have much to learn from each other, both nationally and through provincial and local initiatives.Minister Brown is in discussion with Transnet’s leadership on measures to accelerate private sector participation in the ports and freight rail sector. The intention is to improve efficiencies, reduce the cost of doing business and increase investment in new port facilities and inland terminals. This will complement investments that Transnet has already initiated through its Market Demand Strategy.Our aim is to strengthen our state entities so that they can play a propulsive and dynamic role in our development. Further financial support to state-owned companies will depend on clarity of this mandate and firm resolution of governance challenges.Our regulatory agencies have a special responsibility in this regard: in setting prices for electricity, transport and water utilities, they have to ensure that investment can continue to be financed and that costs are properly managed.The strength of our major state-owned companies does not lie in protecting their dominant monopoly positions, but in their capacity to partner with business investors, industry, mining companies, property and logistics developers, both domestically and across global supply chains. The 2016 Budget: Government’s Action PlanBefore concluding, Honourable Speaker, allow me to return to the main elements of the 2016 Budget, our spending plans and their contribution to growth and broadening development.Our approach is to build on our strengths, directly address weaknesses and be bold where new initiatives are needed.The budget framework brings forward our fiscal consolidation, reducing the budget deficit to 2.4 per cent by 2018/19.Taxes are raised moderately, across a broad base, while limiting the impact on lower-income families.Personnel spending has been curtailed and cost containment measures are reinforced.Expenditure growth is focused on post-school education and training, economic infrastructure, social protection and health services.Economic infrastructureBudget allocations for water infrastructure this year take into account the special needs of drought-affected areas and the need to address water losses in critical supply networks.The Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant programme has been allocated R15 billion over the medium-term for the construction of the bulk water and sanitation infrastructure.Public transport improvements in our cities are again prioritised, alongside better road maintenance and rehabilitation plans.Over the MTEF period R1.6 billion is allocated to the SA Connect broadband programme to support access in remote areas and of schools, health care facilities and government institutions.Business support and empowermentSteps to reduce the regulatory burden for business investors are in progress. These include the establishment of Invest South Africa as a partnership with the private sector and concerted efforts by our largest cities to reduce the administrative costs of starting businesses.A review of business incentives has been initiated, to strengthen their impact on growth, productivity, competitiveness, trade and competitiveness. R475 million has been reprioritised to the Department of Small Business Development for assistance to small and medium enterprises and cooperatives.AgricultureProgrammes aimed at revitalizing agriculture include spending on small-scale farming and developing agri-parks in rural economies.An amount of R2.8 billion is allocated over the medium term to Fetsa Tlala, a food security initiative. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries aims to bring 120 000 hectares of land into productive use in the period ahead, benefitting 145 000 subsistence and smallholder producers each year.Already this year, the department of Water and Sanitation has reprioritised R502 million to deliver water, protect springs and refurbish boreholes in response to drought conditions. Funds have also been provided for feed and support for livestock farmers, and disaster relief measures. Additional drought response allocations will be made, as required, in the Adjustments Appropriation later this year.Higher educationAn additional R16.3 billion has been allocated for higher education over the next three years. R5.7 billion of this addresses the shortfall caused by keeping fees for 2016 academic year at 2015 levels, and the carry-through costs over the MTEF period. R2.5 billion goes to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme to clear outstanding student debt, along with a further R8 billion over the medium term to enable current students to complete their studies.Basic education and early childhood educationOur expenditure on basic education will increase from R204 billion this year, to R254 billion in 2018/19. By 2018, 510 inappropriate and unsafe schools will be rebuilt, 1 120 schools will be supplied with water and 916 schools with electricity.An additional allocation of R813 million for early childhood development is proposed to increase the number of children in ECD centres by 104 000 over the MTEF period.Health and welfare servicesR4.5 billion is budgeted over the medium term for revitalizing health facilities in the eleven NHI pilot districts, and related health system reforms. An additional R740 million has been allocated to strengthen TB programmes to encourage early detection and treatment, and R1 billion for expansion of the antiretroviral treatment programme.Additional funds are allocated for new substance-abuse treatment centres in the Northern Cape, Free State, Western Cape and North West provinces.Social grant increasesOur overall expenditure on social assistance will increase from R129 billion this year to R165 billion in 2018/19.The old age, disability and care dependency grants will rise by R80 to R1 500 in April 2016, and by a further R10 to R1 510 in October.The child support grant will rise by R20 to R350 in April and the foster care grant by R30 to R890.Defence, public order and safetySpending on defence, public order and safety services will rise from R172 billion this year to R204 billion in 2018/19.Taking into account recommendations of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, an amount of R598 million is allocated to enhancing capacity of Public Order Policing units over the MTEF period ahead. Allocations are also made to strengthen institutions supporting Constitutional democracy and to combat corruption, and to enhance the independence of the judiciary. Funds are allocated for the Information Regulator established in terms of the Protection of Personal Information Act of 2013.Provincial expenditure managementHonourable Speaker, our Constitution requires an equitable division of nationally collected revenue between national, provincial and local government.Taking into account the current fiscal framework, the Provincial MECs for Finance have agreed to a Joint Action Plan to address expenditure management and service delivery improvement challenges.Key measures include:Containment of administrative personnel expenditure while protecting education and health service staff;Improved revenue collection;Rationalisation and closure of redundant and underperforming programmes and entities;Intensification of cost-containment measures, in keeping with national guidelines.Municipal financial managementWe are mindful that municipalities face growing pressures from both the rising cost of bulk services and rapidly growing numbers of households.Municipal capital spending exceeded R53 billion in 2014/15.Yet we continue to see underspending of infrastructure grants in many local authorities. A review of these grants has led to several proposals for improvement:Grant frameworks will in future allow for refurbishment of assets, recognising the long-term nature of municipal infrastructure.Water sector grants will be restructured to reduce duplication and the associated administrative burden.Refinements are proposed to take into account the diverse challenges of urban and rural areas, and different-sized towns and cities.Public transport transfers to cities will now be allocated through a formula, bringing greater certainty and sustainability to these funding arrangements.This year brings our fourth fully democratic local government elections. In recognition of this, the National Treasury will launch a data portal to provide all stakeholders with comparable, verified information on municipal financial and non-financial performance. I hope this will further stimulate citizen involvement in local governance.The elections will also see a significant change in municipal demarcations. The number of municipalities will be reduced from 278 to 257, with the objective of improving their viability and sustainability. Local government allocations will be revised to take account of these boundary changes and over R400 million is allocated over the next two years to assist with the transition.The “Back to Basics” programme launched in 2014, aimed at improving service delivery performance of municipalities, is entering its second phase of implementation. It involves active monitoring of performance in governance and service delivery, support to struggling municipality and stronger accountability measures.Investment in cities and urban networksCities are already taking steps to encourage higher land use density and inner city redevelopment, under the authority of the new Spatial Planning and Land Use Management Act. This will unlock significant further private sector development potential across our cities, focussed on strategic corridors.Bus rapid transit systems are operational and expanding in Johannesburg, Tshwane, Cape Town and George, and will be extended to Ekurhuleni and eThekwini this year. About R6 billion is allocated to this programme in 2016/17. Improvements to rail rolling stock and infrastructure will begin to improve the daily travel experience for commuters.Associated with these transport investments, over 90 integrated land development projects valued at more than R130 billion are in progress to reshape our cities in partnership with the private sector.In eThekwini, the Cornubia node comprises 25 000 housing units. An inner city regeneration programme is also underway, including projects at Bridge City, Centrum, the Point and the interconnecting corridor.In the Tembisa Corridor in Ekurhuleni, R6.5 billion in public investment will leverage R8 billion in private sector investment to deliver housing, commercial and office facilities.In Cape Town, the N2 Gateway housing programme is continuing, together with redevelopment of the Voortrekker Road Corridor, Conradie Hospital, the Athlone Power Station and other sites.In Tshwane, investments are focused on the Mabopane Station Hub which is the gateway to the north for more than 150 000 passengers a day and has an informal market accommodating approximately 2500 traders.In Manguang, the R2.6 billion mixed use Airport Development Node is in construction. An inner city residential development is planned and the Vista Park and Brandkop projects will yield over 8 500 housing units at a total development cost of over R1.9 billion.In Johannesburg, the “Corridors of Freedom” connecting Soweto, Alexandra, Sandton and the Johannesburg CDB bring together public transport improvements, social amenities and partnerships with property developers to increase settlement densities and improve social mobility. Growth, inclusion and social cohesionHonourable Speaker, our economic imperative is to ignite inclusive growth.This is central for jobs, for lowering debt, for delivering services and building infrastructure for a 21st century economy. Let us chart a new course for the economy and well-being of all South Africans, particularly for those hardest hit by unemployment – the low-skilled and the youth. This is not only crucial to address social imbalances and inequality, it is also fundamental to encouraging investment.The recent tremors felt by emerging markets are a warning that we need to take corrective steps urgently or we will be worse off. At the same time, we need to move forward to mobilise the resources and capacity of all our people, large and small enterprises, civil society organisations and public-private partnerships.The joint actions we need will not always be easy. All too often, bureaucrats and businesspeople speak past each other; the needs of the young are not the same as those of the elderly; the rhythms of the township differ from those of the suburb.Race, class and language differences interfere with progress, even when we have shared aspirations. We need to bridge these divides.Yet we are resilient, we are committed, we are resourceful.We can turn today’s adversity into opportunities.We can address the weaknesses that create policy uncertainty, we can build on the strengths that are our resource base, our institutions and our workforce. We can do things differently where we need to innovate.We have avoided reckless policies which might have dragged us into recession or reversed the capital flows we need. We have a sound macroeconomic and fiscal framework, and the will to work together for faster and inclusive growth. ThanksAllow me to thank you, Mister President and Minister Deputy President, for your leadership and support. I must also thank Cabinet colleagues for your contributions to addressing the challenges before us.Members of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, including Deputy Minister Jonas, have provided sterling support.I thank our Provincial Premiers and Finance MECs, and Municipal Mayors, who share our fiscal and financial responsibilities.Please join me in expressing appreciation to:Minister Nene for his valuable contribution to our government and TreasuryDirector-General Lungisa Fuzile and officials of the National TreasuryGovernor Kganyago, the Deputy Governors and staff of the South African Reserve BankCommissioner Moyane and staff of the South African Revenue ServiceCommissioners and staff of the Financial and Fiscal CommissionThe Chairpersons, Boards, Chief Executive Officers and staff of the DBSA, the Land Bank, the Public Investment Commission, the Financial Services Board, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Government Pension Administration AgencyThe staff and constituency representatives of NEDLAC, and particularly its Public Finance ChamberJudge Dennis Davis and members of the Tax Committee.I am especially grateful to the chair of the finance committee, the honourable Carrim, acting chair of the appropriation committee, honourable Gcwabaza and chairs of the select committee on finance and appropriation, honourable de Beer and honourable Mohai, who have responsibility for facilitating the consideration of the Division of Revenue Bill and the Appropriation Bill, and the revenue bills which will be tabled later in the year. ConclusionWe are resilient. We are committed. We are resourceful.Looking back on his extraordinary life of resilience, and of commitment, former President Mandela said this:“I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair. That way lays defeat and death.”Source: GCISWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more