President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered a wide-ranging address to the nation last Wednesday, pointing to a number of plans her government envisages toward post-Ebola recovery. She rightly included improvement in the healthcare delivery system, as well as education, agriculture and Liberian participation in business.But she spoke in generalities and presented no specific outline of what she intends in each of these areas.The Address could be described as essentially lackluster (bland), primarily because she spoke in generalities, gave us no bold prescription of how she and her government intend to jumpstart the economy, and most especially the revitalization of the healthcare delivery system.She herself and many other partners have stressed that the Ebola epidemic was allowed to wreak its deadly havoc and do it so rapidly because of the weak healthcare system in all three countries—Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone.This is what led the People’s Republic of China, through its Ambassador, Zhang Yue, to announce last October his government’s pledge “to work with other international partners to help [rebuild] and modernize Liberia’s health sector in the post-Ebola period. Similar pledges followed from the Americans and the European Union. This newspaper has been pleading with the government to seize this golden opportunity and devise a comprehensive and detailed plan for the revitalization of healthcare in Liberia. But we have yet to see one. The Ministry of Health (MOH) reacted verbally to our last Monday Editorial on this subject, saying that indeed a plan had been devised. But the plan is not that impressive.In her address, the President mentioned a ten-year program for the training of healthcare professionals, improving and expanding services at primary and secondary healthcare centers, upgrading county hospitals and establishing three regional hospitals. She further spoke of what she called “the repositioning of John F. Kennedy Medical Center (JFK) to meet its envisioned role as a national referral center.”There were, however, no specifics. Which healthcare professionals does she intend to train—are they nurses, paramedics or medical doctors—or all three? How does she intend to do that? Both the Tubman National Institute for Medical Arts (TNIMA) and most especially the A.M. Dogliotti College of Medicine are crying for help. We recently reported that the College’s students’ allowances, like the salaries of faculty and staff of the university itself, are eight months in arrears. Does the President know this? What plans are in the offing to fix that, then move on to the larger question of reequipping and expanding the college? George Fahnbulleh, a top commentator on the Observer web site, wrote that “with a 3% net population growth rate, Liberia will have an estimated population of 6.74 million in 2030 and will need . . . approximately 1,752 doctors to meet [the] average.” According to him, we need to produce 105 new doctors every year for the next 15 years? This, it seems to us, underscores the urgency of immediately addressing the needs of the Medical College.What intervention plans has the government for the West African Post Graduate Medical College? The college needs its own campus, with well equipped buildings and a topnotch teaching staff to train medical specialists. Are there any plans for that?Where exactly upcountry does the President intend to place the three referral hospitals? And which healthcare centers are targeted for improvement and expansion? What are JFK’s own plans for revitalization? Recent statistics show that our maternal death rate is rising. That is a sign that infant mortality is not far behind. Yet there is only one Liberian gynecologist at the JFK—the Chief Medical Officer himself, Dr. Billy Johnson; and only one pediatrician, Dr. Sia Camonor. Numerous other specialists are lacking at the nation’s leading referral hospital. What are the JFK’s own plans for training specialists or reengaging Liberian medical specialists in the Diaspora?Herein lay the urgent need to build the West African Post Graduate College of Medicine. We pray that the President and her Health Ministry team, in collaboration with the partners, especially the Chinese, Americans and EU, will as soon as possible devise the plan, so that we may begin the urgent task of rebuilding our healthcare sector and turn Liberia into one truly healthy nation.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)
Citizens around Georgetown were faced with a power outage at 20:56h last evening due to “a line trip along two Kingston feeders (F3 and F4),” according to the Guyana Power and Light Inc (GPL) in a press release on Tuesday.It was explained that the power outage affected residents of Kingston, Cummingsburg, Alberttown, Lacytown and Werk-en-Rust.GPL relayed that upon conducting a comprehensive investigation, it was revealed that the feeders contained five burnt switches that are suspected to have occurred as a result of a lightning strike.Despite the damage, the feeders were removed and temporary efforts to reinstitute power to the affected areas began at approximately 22:16h in Kingston. The last location regained electricity at 22:57h.Corrective works commenced around noon on Tuesday and were completed successfully by 13:00h, during which time, GPL noted that, an interruption in the supply of electricity to sections of Lacytown and Werk-en-Rust was unavoidable.GPL said that it sincerely regrets the inconvenience caused.
0Shares0000NAIROBI, Kenya, July 16 – National 7s head coach Paul Treu, has recalled fly-half Biko Adema, to replace Nakuru RFC eighth man Martin Owila in the 12-man squad that is in Glasgow preparing for the Commonwealth Games that kicks-off next weekend.According to communication from Kenya Rugby Union, Owila who was set to make his debut in the shorter version of the game was unable to get his United Kingdom visa processed in time. This forced the technical bench call-up Adema who left Nairobi Wednesday to link up with the rest of squad in Scotland after Treu omitted him in his initial squad. Owila was part of the national 15s squad that failed to qualify for next year’s Rugby World Cup after falling at the final hurdle 10-28 to Zimbabwe in their last match of the Confederation of African Rugby Division 1A championship in Madagascar.Kenya who will be using the Club Games as part of preparation for 2014-15 HSBC Sevens World Series that will see the top four qualify directly to the 2016 Olympics Games in Rio de Janeiro, will be looking to improve their 2010 performance where they were eliminated by Australia in the Main Cup quarter-finals.Shujaa who are drawn in Pool B will open their campaign against Cooks Ireland next Saturday before taking on Trinidad and Tobago then wrap up with a tricky South Africa in their final preliminary round match.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)
Simon Clare joins the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast to round up the latest sporting odds.The Coral spokesman reflects on Novak Djokovic’s Wimbledon triumph and reveals the Serbian is 6/5 to win the US Open later this year.He also looks ahead to The Open Championship at St Andrews, with Jordan Spieth the hot favourite at 5/1 having won the first two majors of the year.He reveals England are 7/4 outsiders to win the second Ashes Test [Australia 11/8] despite their dominant victory in the series opener.And, finally, he says the 6/1 price on Manchester United to win the Premier League next season could be good value as they close in on deals for Bastian Schweinsteiger and Morgan Schneiderlin.Coral is the official betting partner of the Alan Brazil Sports Breakfast
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m. an economic tragedy,” said Stephen Levy, senior economist at the Center for Continuing Study of the California Economy. “It’s asset losses, it’s property damage, probably a lot less than what people have lost through fore- closures.” About 1,500 homes and more than 410,000 acres have been scorched across seven Southern California counties plagued by the wind-driven fires. • For full fire coverage vist the Special Section. LOS ANGELES – Losses from the devastating Southern California wildfires are pegged at $1 billion in San Diego County alone, and the tally will only go higher as other areas add up the costs to rebuild. Still, while the impact is huge, experts say the region’s strong economy should make for a fairly quick rebound. “It’s a human tragedy, it’s not Ron Lane, director of emergency services in San Diego County, the hardest hit area, said damage in that region alone has reached $1 billion. At least 1,200 homes had been destroyed in the county. Losses linked to the fires could climb even higher throughout Southern California if winter rainstorms send mud cascading down fire-ravaged hillsides into neighborhoods, said Kevin Klowden, managing economist for the Milken Institute. “Vegetation is going to have been basically wiped out on a number of hillsides,” he said. A big slice of the repair bill will go toward rebuilding downed power lines and roads, including a stretch of Interstate 15, the main highway from Southern California to Las Vegas. In addition, agricultural areas in San Diego have also been damaged, hurting avocado, citrus and grape crops. Economists are also eyeing disruptions to businesses and productivity, as nearly 500,000 people were evacuated and businesses were forced to close their doors temporarily. Popular tourist destinations, such as SeaWorld in San Diego and the Wild Animal Park in nearby Escondido were forced to shut down. Along with those temporary disruptions, the impact of nationally televised images and media accounts of Southern California ablaze will likely dampen tourism for some time, economists said. “Incidents like this will drive away a certain number of people,” Klowden said. Still, rebuilding homes and businesses with an influx of insurance and government aid should stimulate the lagging construction industry, which has lost 28,600 jobs in the past year amid the housing slump. The pace of that rebuilding could be slow compared to the region’s recovery after the 2003 firestorms that destroyed more then 3,600 homes and caused insured losses surpassing $2 billion. “Back then, the homebuilding market was quite strong,” said Jack Kyser, chief economist of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corp. “This time around, home building is slumping.” Jerry Nickelsburg, an economist and co-author of the quarterly University of California, Los Angeles, Anderson Forecast, said that calculating the losses will be an ongoing process. “We are going to enter into a period of rebuilding in all of these areas that have been destroyed, and I don’t think we really know what kind of value to put on that,” Nickelsburg said. But the economic pain might be short-lived, he said. “All in all, the fires occurred in more remote, residential areas,” Nickelsburg said. “It will have very little effect on the medium and long-term economic growth and economic health of the region.”160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!
AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREGame Center: Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs, Sunday, 10 a.m.Icy Atlantic was purchased by owner James T. Scatuorchio last year to serve as a “rabbit” for more heralded stablemate English Channel. A “rabbit” is a sacrificial pacesetter used to assure quick fractions that aid a closer. Icy Atlantic played that role for English Channel last year in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic at Belmont Park and in the Breeders’ Cup Turf. This season, Icy Atlantic has run on his own, producing three wins in eight starts. “He’s gone on to do very good things on his own,” Pletcher said. “It’s amazing, because you try to do everything right with so many horses. We did everything wrong with him. We used him as a pacesetter twice and he responded by running some of the best races of his career.” Pushing Icy Atlantic into the role of rabbit helped the 6-year-old learn to relax and settle in his races. “It’s obviously a very tall order for him running against these type of horses but he has shown an affinity for the course,” Pletcher said. Icy Atlantic will break from post No. 2 with Chris DeCarlo aboard. Around the stables It could be a soggy weekend on the Jersey Shore. The Wednesday afternoon forecast from weather.com called for a rainy stretch through Saturday. The outlook called for a 50 percent chance of rain Friday, increasing to 70 percent Saturday. Even with a damp forecast, Monmouth officials remain optimistic Saturday’s card featuring eight Breeders’ Cup races will sell out. About 1,000 of the 47,000 seats remain unsold. … Trainer Bob Baffert scratched Cry and Catch Me on from the $2 million Juvenile Fillies after the winner of the Oak Leaf Stakes at Santa Anita spiked a fever. “When the temperature hit 102, I pulled the plug,” Baffert said. … The New Jersey Racing Commission reported that random blood tests of the horses competing at Monmouth Park this weekend were negative. The NJRC, with the cooperation of racing commissions across the country and in Europe, conducted a random sampling of horses pre-entered on Oct. 15 for the 11 races.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! From news services OCEANPORT, N.J. – Icy Atlantic has been the most pleasant surprise among the 11 horses trainer Todd Pletcher sends out this weekend in the Breeders’ Cup at Monmouth Park. “Most of the others are pretty accomplished horses that have been performing well over several years,” Pletcher said. The 11-race Breeders’ Cup takes place Friday and Saturday at a track where Icy Atlantic has already won two stakes: the 2004 Jersey Derby and a track-record victory in the one-mile Red Bank on Sept. 1. Icy Atlantic is 30-1 in Saturday’s $1 million Mile on the turf.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp has dismissed reports of a supposed feud with Reds youngster Jordon Ibe.The 20-year-old impressed throughout Liverpool’s 2-1 Premier League victory over Bournemouth on Sunday and provided the assist for Daniel Sturridge’s goal.But, despite the team’s intense schedule, his appearance was only his third since February.Ibe featured regularly following Klopp’s Anfield appointment in October, but opportunities dried up as he began to realised his favoured team.It was suggested that a rift developed over what Klopp perceived to be an unwillingness to track back and defend.But the Anfield boss insists there is no problem between the pair and hailed Ibe as a ‘big talent’ for the club.“I heard from somewhere that Jordon has some problems with me or something?” said the 48-year-old, who developed a reputation for brining through young players during his time in charge of Borussia Dortmund.“Only a few young players can come up, and sometimes they are in the squad, sometimes not.“He’s still a brilliant, big, big talent which is very good for English football. He did well with the pass for the first goal, and the cross for the second. I was very happy.“It was a beautiful pass from Jordan Ibe [for Sturridge’s goal]. We had a lot of moments and it’s absolutely exciting.” 1
“They hadn’t qualified for any major tournaments since 1986 and all everyone spoke about was the previous players and what they’d done and rightly so.“But once we qualified for the Euros all of a sudden those boys became heroes and they’ll be remembered in folklore.”Motherwell tasted cup final defeat when they were beaten 2-0 by Celtic in the League Cup final in November and Robinson believes experience will stand his players in good stead.Aberdeen and Motherwell have met each other four times already this season, with each side winning two apiece, and it is not only in results that Robinson believes there is parity. Stephen Robinson has said Motherwell can turn a good season into an incredible season with Scottish Cup success.The Fir Park side face Aberdeen in the semi-final on Saturday and Robinson said winning the cup would ensure his players become heroes in Lanarkshire.The 43-year-old believes that should his men go on to lift the trophy for the first time since 1991 then they would go down in folklore, like the Northern Ireland Euro 2016 squad who qualified for their country’s first major tournament since 1986.He said: “I’ve used the comparison to some of our players of Northern Ireland. The Dons go into the game missing key players Kenny McLean, Shay Logan, and captain Graeme Shinnie whilst Robinson’s side will also be without three first-team members in Carl McHugh, Craig Tanner and Peter Hartley.
He added: “Every fan and pundit will have their own opinions on where Rangers are and we don’t need to get involved in that.“We have belief in ourselves and are trying to create a winning mentality.“But there has been a lot of change and it will take time for us to grow but I’m very happy with where we are right now.”Gerrard has overseen a squad overhaul at Ibrox as he looks to improve Rangers’ fortunes.His new-look defence’s run of clean sheets came to an end when Osijek scored late on Thursday, but the manager was pleased with his charges reaction to conceding.He continued: “All the signings have been positive, what pleased me most last night was the disappointment in the defender’s and goalkeeper’s faces when we conceded.“That tells me we are going in the right way, that’s a good trait to have.“All the best teams that I played in, all the defenders hated conceded goals and that’s a good sign.” On his aspirations for the season, he said: “It’s a difficult question to answer as it’s a long season but we made a lot of changes for a reason, we felt the squad needed that amount of surgery to help it compete. “We don’t want to set any targets or put any added pressure on the players, we’ve said just to focus on each game.“The idea is to have variety in every position so we can compete over the season ahead.“But we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves, the focus is on Aberdeen.” Rangers boss Steven Gerrard refused to set targets for the new Premiership season as the Light Blues attempt to halt Celtic’s run of league titles.The Ibrox side finished 12 points adrift of Brendan Rodgers’ double treble winners and three behind Aberdeen in the league last time out.Gerrard has since taken over as manager, with a new coaching staff and ten signings arriving in Govan alongside the former Liverpool skipper.Despite the overhaul, Gerrard was unwilling to make any predictions as the Light Blues’ rivals Celtic eye an eighth-straight league title.
Fuerlinger, Dieringer, Farid Torbey each score twice for DonsBy Paul LeckerSports ReporterMARSHFIELD — The Marshfield Columbus Catholic soccer team wrapped up its regular-season schedule with an 8-0 win over Tri-County in a Mid-State Soccer Conference game Thursday at Griese Park.The Dons led 2-0 at halftime following goals by Nick Malovrh and Alexandra Hutchison.Farid Torbey, Evan Dieringer, and Tyler Fuerlinger each scored twice in the second half to push the Dons to the shutout win.Bailey Keffer and Kellen Heinzen combined on the shutout for Columbus Catholic, which improves to 13-1-3 overall and finishes the MSSC season with a 9-0-3 record.The Dons will open WIAA postseason play with a Division 4 regional semifinal at home on Oct. 22 against an opponent to be determined.(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com.)Dons 8, Penguins 0Tri-County 0 0 – 0Columbus Catholic 2 6 – 8First half: 1. CC, Nick Malovrh (Farid Torbey), 30:09; 2. CC, Alexandra Hutchison (Charles Payant), 44:37.Second half: 3. CC, F. Torbey (Nadim Torbey), 54:00; 4. CC, Tyler Fuerlinger (Evan Dieringer), 59:18; 5. CC, Dieringer (Payant), 62:30; 6. CC, F. Torbey (Calvin Brown), 63:51; 7. CC, Dieringer (N. Torbey), 65:55; 8. CC, Fuerlinger, 85:32.Records: Tri-County 8-7, 6-5 Mid-State Soccer Conference; Columbus Catholic 13-1-3, 9-0-3 MSSC.
A Bread Buddies sandwich, donated byone classmate to another, comes with aspecial message: “Your greatestpleasure is that which rebounds fromhearts that you have made glad.” Feedback’s Cape Town branch has fivedrivers and five trucks, one of which isrefrigerated. Freddy Janeke presides over the dailymorning planning meeting before thedrivers head off. Abuyile Tsitsa (15) helps unloadsandwiches at Mokone Primary Schoolin Langa.Words and pictures by Jennifer SternMost of us have childhood memories of being faced with pile of green and disgusting-looking – but healthy – stuff on our plate. And being admonished by a stern parent to think of all the starving children in the world, and eat it up.The starving children can have it, we would think – but there’s no way to get it to them. Now, a South African organisation called Feedback Food Redistribution has come up with a way of taking unwanted food and distributing it to the hungry.South Africa is marked by extremes in wealth, from affluence to deep poverty. While it is one of the few countries in the world fortunate enough to produce more than enough food for its population, people still starve. It’s a matter of redistribution.Feedback, which started off with one truck and two staff members in Cape Town in 2000 and has since grown to have branches in Johannesburg, Durban and Pietermaritzburg, is just one of the non-profit organisations tackling this problem.Feedback redistributes surplus food from farmers, caterers, restaurants, corporate canteens and retailers to institutions that care for vulnerable people in some of the most impoverished communities in South Africa. And as most of these organisations help individuals get back on their feet again, it’s a hand-up, not a hand-out.In the last financial year, 1 March 2007 to 28 February 2008, Feedback distributed 3 799 412kg of food. Considering they work six days a week, that’s over 12 metric tons of food a day.The organisation tackles not only the problem of immediate hunger, it also addresses long-term food security needs by offering nutrition courses and assisting in the setting up of food gardens.LogisticsIt’s a pretty hectic operation. At the Cape Town base, distribution coordinator Freddy Janeke starts his day by checking what needs to be picked up where, and then assigns drivers and vehicles to the various routes.Each driver will start the day off doing a pick-up and then, depending on the nature of the food donated, it will either be transported directly to one or more of the beneficiary organisations, or it will be taken to Feedback headquarters for sorting and storage.The type of food donated ranges from left-over cooked meals from university residences or vegetables and bread approaching their sell-by date, to breakfast cereals in underweight boxes that can’t be sold. These are the easiest to deal with, as they have a shelf life of months, so they can be stored and distributed when there is less of the more perishable foodstuffs available.The Cape Town branch has five drivers and five trucks, one of which is refrigerated, so Janeke has to think on his feet and do some quite intricate juggling to assign the right truck and driver to the right route. The other four trucks are fitted with thermo-cubes on the back so they are sufficiently well insulated.And it’s not just about feeding the hungry. Excess food is a major problem in its own right. If it weren’t for Feedback, over 3 800 tons of good quality organic material would have ended up in landfill last year. And it almost certainly would have quietly fermented to form a vast amount of methane, a greenhouse gas that traps far more heat than carbon dioxide.Care 2 CarryFeedback’s primary task is food redistribution, but this innovative organisation is initiating new schemes to improve the lot of both people and the planet. While unequal distribution of food and other resources is a major problem facing society in general, poverty, pollution and inadequate education are equally important. And that’s why Feedback’s Care 2 Carry campaign is so clever.Speaking of landfill, the biggest culprit there has to be the ubiquitous plastic supermarket bag. So, they’ve thought of a way of tackling that problem, too. Granted, sturdy paper shopping bags are not exactly a new idea, but these ones are a little different. There are 10 designs, all painted by children at the Luzuko Primary School in Gugulethu. The bags are available on the website or from Fruit and Veg City stores for R10, R2 of which goes to Feedback.It seems that every good initiative by this organisation just seems to spawn another. The Book People, a subsidiary of Don Nelson Publishers, donated 250 books to the Luzuko school library as a way of thanking them for their participation in the Care 2 Carry programme, and each child that took part in the competition also received a book – even if their art was not chosen for a bag.But this idea didn’t just spring out of nothing. Luzuko Primary is a beneficiary of one of Feedback’s subsidiary programmes, called Bread Buddies, which distributes sandwiches to learners from disadvantaged backgrounds. These children often arrive at school hungry, without having had much in the way of breakfast, and – if it weren’t for school feeding schemes – they’d leave hungry too, which is not conducive to good learning.Bread buddies enables children from relatively affluent homes to bring an extra sandwich, and pop it into the waiting Bread Buddies crate when they arrive at school. These are then distributed to schools in less affluent areas.In the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal, 53 schools are involved in the Bread Buddies programme, and – between them – distributed 123 332 sandwiches in the last academic year.A growing number of corporate bread buddies have taken the programme on board, as they realise it is a relatively simple and effective way to make a difference at grassroots level.Interestingly, Bread Buddies has also had some unexpected spin-offs. Many of the more affluent schools participating in the programme have partnered with their less fortunate counterparts to create an ongoing relationship that is mutually beneficial.“Also,” says Dean Hand, managing director of Feedback, “it’s good for these children to know where their extra sandwich is going. It’s not too much to say that this contributes to nation building.”Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at firstname.lastname@example.org.Related articlesSocial development in South AfricaGlobal food crisis addressed‘Miracle’ rice fights African hunger Useful linksFeedback Food Redistribution
Finance minister Pravin Gordhan arrives at Parliament in Cape Town, ahead of the 2013 budget speech.(Image: GCIS) MEDIA CONTACTS • Jabulani Sikhakhane Ministerial spokesperson Department of Finance +27 12 315 5944 RELATED ARTICLES • Gordhan: Make SA works marter • Team SA to call for investment • SA’s budget most transparent in world • Budget big on education, jobs • SA business gives budget a thumbs-upFinance minister Pravin Gordhan delivered his annual budget speech on 27 February. The national budget gives details of the government’s plans for borrowing, spending and taxation over the next three years.Reaction to the speech, from political opposition as well as financial experts, has been positive overall. The African Christian Democratic Party described it as “conservative”. The Congress of South African Trade Unions said it had hoped for a bolder strategy.“The budget contained no major surprises,” said Old Mutual’s chief economist Rian le Roux. This is because the National Treasury needs to narrow the government budget deficit while maintaining spending on social services and keeping taxation within sustainable limits, he said.Le Roux also commended the government for announcing a lower spending estimate of R10.4-billion less than the previous figure. This is a clear sign that tighter control on government spending is on the cards.Gordhan announced tax relief of R7-billion for individual taxpayers, and the amount a person needs to earn before becoming eligible for taxation has increased.Tim Harris of the Democratic Alliance expressed pleasure that there wasn’t any increase in personal tax.However, excise duty on goods such as tobacco, spirits and wines has increased, as it does every year. The petrol levy has also increased by 23 cents.He announced a continued priority for infrastructure development, with R827-billion allocated for the next three years. This includes R2-billion for the Square Kilometre Array .Visit the National Treasury’s budget page for more information and downloads on the 2013 budget. The full text of the speech follows:Honourable SpeakerI have the honour to present the fourth budget of President Zuma’s administration.Mr President, you said in the State of the Nation address that “we should put South Africa first. All of us have a patriotic duty and responsibility to build and promote our country.” You further said “The National Development Plan provides a perfect vehicle for united action precisely because it has the support of South Africans across the political and cultural spectrum. Leaders in every avenue should be ready to rise above sectional interests and with great maturity, pull together to take this country forward.”This challenge applies to all sections of our society: business, labour, public representatives, activists and citizens in every part of the country.As we pointed out in the 2012 budget, global economic uncertainty will remain with us for some time.South Africa’s economic outlook is improving, but requires that we actively pursue a different trajectory if we are to address the challenges ahead.Under your leadership Mr President, we have opened new channels of communication and built more cohesion among key stakeholders in South Africa. We have taken many steps to create the conditions for higher levels of confidence in our economy and society. Now we are ready to implement the National Development Plan.South Africans have a rich history of acting together for a better future.Thirty years ago, the United Democratic Front brought together people of goodwill and foresight from all corners of the country. Many points of view, many differences in approach, were marshalled around a single cause – building a united and non-racial society. We did the same for the first democratic elections in 1994 which laid the basis for an enduring democracy.The Reconstruction and Development Programme is the foundation on which we build. It said:“It is this collective heritage of struggle, these common yearnings, which are our greatest strength… At the same time the challenges facing South Africa are enormous. Only a comprehensive approach to harnessing the resources of our country can reverse the crisis created by apartheid. Only an all-round effort to harness the life experience, skills, energies and aspirations of the people can lay the basis for a new South Africa.”The schools, clinics, taps and houses we have built since then are testimony to the truth of these assertions. The freedom and democracy we cherish – and the knowledge that these are permanent, inalienable rights grounded in our basic law – are the foundation on which all South Africans can make a contribution.Looking back on the path we have travelled since 1994, we see the importance of a long-term perspective on development and change. It is people acting together for a common vision that connects the past to the present, and makes a better future possible.The challenge for us, honourable members, is that people are asking if we can sustain our “miracle”. They are asking whether we as a nation have the ability, the will and the wisdom to take another leap forward in reconstructing and developing South Africa. They are asking whether South Africans can still show the world how to overcome intractable problems that face the community of nations. In these trying times, South Africans too ask the question, “can we be a winning nation?”.Of course we can!As Benedict Mongalo, a young man from Johannesburg, writes in his tip: “We all acknowledge that unemployment, poverty and inequality are the greatest challenge facing our country… We will not eradicate this problem overnight… This is like manually moving a mountain and the only way to do it, is to move one rock aside and the next generation, or next government, will do the same until this mountain is moved.”Hope and confidence come from energetic involvement and a willingness to make a direct contribution to change. The imperatives of change are not just challenges to government, they confront all of society. A new framework for development is an opportunity to unite around an inclusive vision, and join hands in constructing a shared future.The National Planning Commission has cautioned that our development objectives will take time and hard work to achieve. Measured year by year, district by district, there will be advances and there will be setbacks. But in each five-year term of government we must demonstrate, as we have since 1994, that we can meet more demanding milestones – more jobs, more enterprises, more technological innovation, better housing, progress in education and health.Working together we all know that we can do better. All of us – citizens, taxpayers, public servants, teachers, activists, managers, workers – we all have a shared future, and we have a shared plan to make it work.The Batswana people say, “Sedikwa ke ntšwa pedi ga se thata” – working together we can do more!Overview of the 2013 budgetThe 2013 budget is presented in challenging times, but against the background of a new strategic framework for growth and development. This is a budget in which there is limited room for expansion, yet there are significant opportunities for change.There are signs of improvement in the world economy, though the outlook remains troubled.South Africa’s economy has continued to grow, but at a slower rate than projected at the time of the 2012 budget.The 2013 budget takes the National Development Plan as its point of departure. The strategic plans of government and the medium-term expenditure plans will be aligned to realise our objectives.Government has taken measures to control growth in spending. Spending plans have been reduced by R10.4-billion through reprioritisation, savings and a draw-down on the contingency reserve.Government remains committed to a large-scale infrastructure investment programme.Our path of spending and the recovery in revenue will stabilise debt at just higher than 40% of GDP. The budget deficit will fall from 5.2% of GDP in 2012/13 to 3.1% in 2015/16.A review will be initiated this year of our tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability.In the 2013/14 fiscal year, personal income tax relief of R7-billion is granted.A new local government equitable share formula is proposed, providing a subsidy for free basic services designed to reach 59% of households.Further education and training will continue to be extended and enhanced.And following careful consideration of inputs from various stakeholders, a revised youth employment incentive will be tabled in the House, together with a proposed employment incentive for special economic zones.In this budget we continue to invest in education, health, housing, public transport and social development – components of the social wage which add up to about 60% of public expenditure.Global situationThere are signs of improvement in the world economy, though the outlook remains troubled. Growth is still muted in the US and Japan, and much of Europe is in recession.Policy interventions by the major central banks were needed during 2012 to avert new economic and fiscal crises. Yet many advanced economies contracted during the fourth quarter of 2012 and global prospects are expected to improve only marginally, from growth of 3.2% in 2012 to 3.5% in 2013. Emerging markets, particularly China and India, continue to lead global growth, although at lower rates than before.High levels of debt are inhibiting progress in many countries. Yet measures to reduce indebtedness have the effect of holding back growth. Unemployment remains high in many countries, yet technological progress continues to reduce demand for labour in many industries. Around the world, inequality is fuelling discontent.So there are parallels between the global economic discourse and our own policy challenges. In seeking a pragmatic balance between recovery and consolidation, between economic power and social solidarity, between infrastructure investment and human development, between encouraging enterprise and regulating markets – we are grappling with issues that confront many other nations.South Africa’s economic outlookSouth Africa’s economy has continued to grow, but at a slower rate than projected at the time of the 2012 budget. GDP growth reached 2.5% in 2012 and is expected to grow at 2.7% in 2013, rising to 3.8% in 2015. Inflation has remained moderate, with consumer prices rising by 5.7% in 2012 and projected to increase by an average of 5.5% a year over the period ahead.However, our trade performance is holding us back. Exports grew by just 1.1% in real terms last year, while imports increased by 7.2%. The deficit on the current account of the balance of payments was 6.1% of GDP. This means, in simple terms, that expenditure in the South African economy exceeded the value of production and income by about R190-billion last year. This is partly a consequence of the disruption of mining sector activity and the structural reduction in mineral exports due to lower demand.Some of the foundations of faster growth are in place. Strong capital investment by the public sector, the addition of electricity-generating capacity, relatively stable inflation and low interest rates will support improved growth rates over the medium term.But this is not enough. Much more is needed. In particular, a significant increase in private sector investment and competitiveness is needed in the wider economy: agriculture, manufacturing, tourism, communications – every sector has to play its part in expanding trade, investment and job creation.The National Development Plan: a new trajectoryThe NDP, supported by the New Growth Path and other programmes, invites us to look beyond the constraints of the present to the transformation imperatives of the next 20 and 30 years.These imperatives are already apparent in the realities of the social and economic restructuring that is under way.The first reality is our demographic transition – a million young people leave school every year, and we need a package of reforms that will improve education, training and work opportunities for young people.The second is that we are a rapidly urbanising society. This means we need to meet urgent demand for housing, municipal services, schools, clinics, public transport and commercial development, but it is also means we have an opportunity to build an integrated urban landscape, with effective partnerships between municipalities, local businesses and civic associations.A third imperative is economic competitiveness. We need to invest in infrastructure, raise productivity and diversify our economy, to create jobs and raise living standards.Improving the quality of education and training is an essential foundation of a more productive and inclusive growth path.Stronger links with Africa and other emerging economies are needed.We have to adapt to a low-carbon economy, including mobilisation of our renewable energy potential.Finally there is the social solidarity challenge that cuts across all of these, which is to build a more equal and inclusive economy that bridges our racial and other divides.These are themes on which the NDP provides clear guidance, not just about strategic goals and objectives, but also about the practical difficulties and choices we face.There are substantial strengths on which to build – a well-established legal system, secure property rights, an effective tax system, world-class higher education institutions and science councils, established energy, transport, water and communications infrastructure networks, expertise and capacity in many areas – mining, construction, retail, finance, logistics and manufactured exports – and a sound macroeconomic and fiscal framework.While building on these strengths, we have to tackle our weaknesses aggressively. The NDP emphasises key institutional capabilities:The need to professionalise the public service and strengthen accountability,Improved management and enforcement systems to fight corruption,Reinforcement of the education accountability chain, with lines of responsibility from state to classroom,Improved planning and management of strategic infrastructure projects.The NDP also highlights the need to lower the cost of living for households, and to reduce the cost of doing business for small and emerging enterprises.Let me also reiterate the NDP’s emphasis on uniting South Africans around a common vision: it proposes a social compact to reduce poverty and inequality, and raise employment and investment, recognising that progress towards a more equal society requires shared efforts across the public and private sectors.And so the 2013 Budget takes the National Development Plan as its point of departure.It recognises that our medium-term plans are framed in the context of a long-term vision and strategy.It focuses on strengthening growth and employment creation.It prioritises improvements in education and expansion of training opportunities.It promotes progress towards a more equal society and an inclusive growth path.The fiscal framework and long-term sustainabilityNational development must be coupled with fiscal sustainability, which ensures that the progress we make will not be interrupted or reversed. The government relies on resources derived from the wider economy, and the best way to generate resources is to grow the economy faster and increase the tax base.The NDP targets an annual growth rate of more than 5% a year. This would double the resources available to government in the next two decades.The present reality is that growth is more modest. The economic turbulence we experienced in the second half of last year has resulted in a revenue shortfall amounting to R16.3-billion. The deficit is now estimated to be 5.2% of GDP in 2012/13. The growth outlook for the next three years has weakened, and government’s net debt is now expected to stabilise marginally higher than 40% of GDP.In the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, we noted that if the economic environment were to deteriorate, government would reassess its revenue and spending plans to secure South Africa’s fiscal footing. In the circumstances, our approach involves several elements:Additional measures to control spending, reducing real expenditure growth to an average of 2.3% over the next three years, compared with 2.9% signalled in October 2012A reduction in the budget deficit to 3.1% by 2015/16, a level consistent with the stabilisation of debtSteps to reinforce growth, building on the competitiveness enhancement programme introduced last yearInitiation of a tax policy reviewA comprehensive review of expenditure, focusing on both spending controls and value for money in government programmes and agenciesStrengthening the capacity of the state to implement our plans and programmes.Government is committed to remaining within the expenditure ceiling set out in the budget. New policy initiatives over the next three years will be financed from savings, efficiency gains and reprioritisation.Structural increases in spending require corresponding revenue increases if they are to be financed sustainably. If we succeed in driving growth towards 5% a year and government revenue doubles in the next 20 years, major infrastructure projects and new policy initiatives such as national health insurance and expanded vocational education will be affordable with limited adjustments to tax policy. But if growth continues along the present trajectory, substantial spending commitments would require significant adjustments in revenue and reductions in other areas of spending.On Parliament’s request, National Treasury has prepared a report that considers fiscal sustainability from a long-term perspective. The report is currently being considered within government, after which it will be tabled for Parliament’s consideration.Growing the real economyGrowing the economy means expanding business activity. We recognise the key role that private companies play in our economy.In the lead-up to the Budget, we engaged with several business leaders on the investment and development challenges we face. Allow me to share with you some of their plans, which signal growing confidence in the business outlook, despite difficult conditions.Construction and refurbishment by a company in the hospitality sector firm of R2.5-billion in the next 18 months and expansion of R3-billion in the pipelineTwo telecommunications investments amounting to R14-billion this yearCapital expenditure of R3.4-billion over the next three years by a rail and logistics operatorA R2.5-billion expansion and longer-term plans of R15-billion in mining projectsInvestment of R1.4-billion this year by a leading retailer, and plans to open 100 new stores by anotherAn expansion of R1.2-billion this year by a food and beverage sector firmPlans for R28.5-billion in long-term infrastructure investment by a leading industrial company, which will create 10 000 temporary and 4 000 permanent jobs.In recent times, the world has become a more uncertain place for businesses, causing some to build cash reserves rather than invest in new or expanding operations. As government, we wish to encourage businesses to keep investing in our economy, and seize the opportunities around us. We are therefore reinforcing several initiatives that support business development:The Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme (MCEP), announced in 2012, has received a total of 215 applications with requests for grants totalling R2.3-billion mainly from the chemicals, metals and agro-processing sectors. Applications are expected to increase over the period ahead and funding of R1.5-billion per year has been provided on the budget of the Department of Trade and Industry.The Special Economic Zone (SEZ) Programme, also announced last year, has received funding to build world class industrial parks. I am in discussion with Minister Davies on specific tax incentives to enhance this initiative.The Jobs Fund announced in the 2011 Budget has concluded two calls for proposals. In total, 3 614 applications have been received, and 65 projects approved. Grant funding of R3.3-billion has been approved, matched by a further R3.1-billion in funding raised by the private sector.Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) play a key role in the development of the economy and are a significant generator of employment. Financing of SMMEs has been simplified with the creation of the Small Enterprise Finance Agency last year. We have been progressively working to simplify the tax requirements for small business. The turnover threshold will be increased this year and the graduated rate structure will be revised.Regional IntegrationAfrica is our home, and it is our future. It is a market of over one-billion people and it is growing rapidly.The National Development Plan acknowledges the global shift of economic power from West to East, and highlights the rise of Africa.Indeed, we have already begun to see our trade patterns shift from traditional partners in Europe and the United States to new markets in Asia and Africa.Africa now accounts for about 18% of our total exports, and nearly a quarter of our manufactured exports.Over the past five years, the South African Reserve Bank has approved nearly 1 000 large investments into 36 African countries. These are mutually beneficial, as they support development in those countries, and also generate tax revenue, dividends and jobs both abroad as well as in South Africa. To further support the private sector in expanding operations in Africa, I will announce simpler rules that will reduce the time and costs of doing business in Africa.A number of measures are proposed to relax cross-border financial regulations and tax requirements on companies, making it easier for banks and other financial institutions to invest and operate in other countries. Similar measures will apply to foreign companies wanting to invest in African countries using South Africa as their regional headquarters. The outward investment reforms that apply as part of the Gateway to Africa reforms will also pertain to those companies seeking to invest in countries outside Africa, including Brics countries.In addition, substantial direct investments in regional development are underway:We are helping to build infrastructure that will create opportunities for South African companies to expand trade and investment across the border. The DBSA is accelerating investment into the SADC region. We are supporting infrastructure projects in multiple countries, particularly in the key areas of electricity generation and transmission, and in strengthening road links in the region.Investment by the Industrial Development Corporation in 41 projects across 17 countries totalled R6.2-billion in 2012. The bulk of those projects are in mining, industrial infrastructure, agro-processing and tourism.As part of its long-term strategy to help secure energy supply for South Africa and the region, Eskom is considering options for investment in several regional generation and transmission projects.Working with our Brics partnersNext month, we will host the 5th annual Brics Summit, which brings together Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa. The summit will unveil the work we have been doing with our BRICS partners on the following projects:The possible establishment of a BRICS-led bank is intended to mobilise domestic savings and co-fund infrastructure in developing regionsThe pooling of members’ foreign exchange reserves with the view of using them to support each other at times of balance of payments or currency crisis. Collectively, BRICS countries hold reserves totalling US$4.5-trillion.Work is underway on creating a trade and development insurance risk pool. The aim is to establish a sustainable and alternative insurance and reinsurance network for the BRICS countries.Financing infrastructure investmentThe NDP reminds us that “South Africa needs to invest in a strong network of economic infrastructure designed to support the country’s medium- and long-term economic and social objectives.”Over the next three years, R827-billion is planned to be spent by the fiscus and state-owned companies to build infrastructure. The financing for these projects is in place, and is not affected by the spending cuts in the budget.The fiscus has allocated just under R430-billion for schools, hospitals, clinics, dams, water and electricity distribution networks, electrification of over a million new homes, sanitation schemes, building more courtrooms and prisons, and improved bus, commuter rail and road links. Most of the spending falls under provinces and municipalities.Eskom, Transnet and other State-Owned Companies fund a further R400-billion of projects. This will be financed both through own resources and additional borrowing over the next three years, supported by Treasury guarantees.This will pay for the ongoing building of power generation plants and new transmission lines, investment in rail, ports and pipelines, large new water transfer schemes, and various airport upgrades.Of course, we are well aware that there are parts of government that struggle to spend their full infrastructure budgets. It is important to bear in mind that spending programmes have become more ambitious, funding levels have increased, and pressure to deliver has intensified. Records show that government’s ability to spend has been steadily rising from year to year. But it is not yet fast enough.On this challenge, Willie du Preez expresses concern about whether infrastructure investment is actually taking place. He suggests: “As a citizen one should be able to obtain from the treasury website at the end of each financial year what amount was spent on what infrastructure.”Mr du Preez, you can already obtain that information from the treasury website, not just every year, but every month!Investing in Urban DevelopmentOur urban areas make a vital contribution to the national economy, hosting factories and offices and many work opportunities, and will always be attractive to young people seeking a better life. It is little surprise then that the Census 2011 shows that 62% of South Africans are now living in our cities and towns. And that the population of some municipalities grew by over 50% between 2001 and 2011.The challenge we face of highly inefficient, segregated and exclusionary divides between town and township imposes costs not only on the economy and the fiscus, but also on families and communities.A new formula for the local government equitable share will be introduced in 2013/14 that recognises the need to better differentiate assistance to different municipalities, including those in rural areas. Municipal infrastructure grants will also be re-aligned, and go hand in hand with more integrated planning of new developments, so that we can make meaningful strides in overcoming the spatial inequalities of the past.Low carbon economyThe Development Plan further calls on government to send a signal to industry and consumers that we are living in an environmentally stressed world.And so government proposes to price carbon by way of a carbon tax at the rate of R120 per ton of CO2 equivalent, effective from 1 January 2015. To soften the impact, a tax-free exemption threshold of 60% will be set, with additional allowances for emissions intensive and trade-exposed industries. An updated carbon tax policy paper will be published for further consultation by the end of March 2013.To ensure that South Africa produces fuel that is more environment-friendly, support mechanisms for both biofuel production and the upgrade of oil refineries to cleaner fuel standards will be introduced.In addition, government continues to direct spending towards environmental programmes, such as installing solar water geysers, procuring renewable energy, low carbon public transport, cleaning up derelict mines, addressing acid mine drainage, supporting our national parks, and in particular, to saving our rhino population, who remain under threat.We are also encouraging the private sector and smaller public entities to be creative and develop low-carbon projects through the Green Fund. In the first call for proposals, 590 applications were received. The R800-million that was previously allocated is to be topped up with an additional R300-million.The social wageThe NDP recognises that reducing the cost of living is essential for broadening economic participation and eliminating poverty. Alongside the “economic wage” earned through work, the “social wage” provided by government is a steadily rising contribution to the living conditions of working people and their families.Substantial growth in social spending over the past decade has financed a threefold increase in the number of people receiving social grants, a doubling in per capita health spending, construction of 1.5-million free homes and the provision of free basic education to the poorest 60% of learners. The impact is evident in improved living standards, expanded access to basic services and the changing landscape of both urban and rural areas.The social assistance budget has increased by an average of 11% a year since 2008/09, in part due to the extension of the child support grant to the age of 18. Spending on social assistance will rise to R120-billion next year.The old age and disability grants will increase in April from R1 200 a month to R1 260,The foster care grant will increase from R770 to R800, andThe child support grant will increase to R290 in April and R300 a month in October.It is also proposed that the old age grant means test should be phased out by 2016, accompanied by offsetting revisions to the secondary and tertiary rebates. All citizens over a designated age will be eligible for the grant, which will simplify its administration and address the disincentive to save that arises from the present means test.Alongside social assistance, access to health care is a vital element in the social wage. There has been progress in reducing mortality and improving our HIV and TB programmes, and an expansion in medical and nurse training capacity is under way.Pilot national health insurance projects have been initiated this year in 10 districts, and will include improvements to health facilities, contracting with general practitioners and financial management reforms. A new conditional grant is introduced this year to enable the national Department of Health to play a greater role in coordinating these reforms.The initial phase of NHI development will not place new revenue demands on the fiscus. Over the longer term, however, it is anticipated that a tax increase will be needed. The National Treasury is working with the Department of Health to examine the funding arrangements and system reforms required for NHI. A discussion paper inviting public comment on various options will be published this year.Government’s contribution to housing and basic municipal services is a substantial component of the social wage. The budget for housing and community amenities has increased by over 16% a year since 2008.Progress continues to be made in extending access to housing, electricity, water, sanitation and refuse removal services. The main contribution of the national budget to the financing of household amenities is the local government equitable share. A new equitable share formula is proposed in this budget, which will provide a subsidy of R275 for every household with a monthly income less than R2 300, or about 59% of all households.We also recognise that many businesses provide their employees with housing assistance or home loans. However, the current fringe benefit tax is unduly burdensome in cases where an employer transfers a house to a low-income worker at a price below market value. Tax relief is proposed to address this difficulty.The social wage complements employment earnings and contributes to a more equitable and inclusive economic growth path. National health insurance and further steps in social security reform will also reinforce social solidarity and the decent work agenda.Social spending, however, is not a substitute for job creation.One of our most pressing development challenges is to expand work opportunities for young people. There has been extensive debate on how this should be done. The answer is that a wide range of measures are needed, including further education, training, public employment opportunities and support for job creation in the private sector.To complement existing programmes, a tax incentive aimed at sharing the costs of employing young work-seekers will be tabled for consideration by Parliament. It will help young people enter the labour market to gain valuable experience and access career opportunities. A similar incentive is proposed for eligible workers of all ages within special economic zones.Financial services and retirement reformIn last year’s Budget, I indicated the need for South African households to save more. I am now able to announce the following proposals, for consultation before we introduce the necessary legislation later this year:Tax-preferred savings and investment accounts will be introduced in 2015.Retirement funds will be required to identify appropriate preservation funds for exiting members, who will be encouraged to preserve when changing jobs.Retirement funds will be required to guide their members through the process of converting savings into a regular income after retirement, and to choose or establish default annuity products that meet appropriate principles and standards. More competition will be promoted by allowing providers other than life offices to sell living annuities.The tax treatment of pension, provident and retirement annuity funds will be simplified and harmonised.Governance reforms of retirement funds will also be implemented, with measures in place to ensure trustees of retirement funds are trained once they have been appointed. I intend to call up a conference of all trustees this year to take this process forward.We are also considering how to encourage all employers to provide appropriate retirement mechanisms for their employees, as part of the broader social security reforms. In implementing these reforms, the vested rights of current members of retirement funds will be protected.Let me take this opportunity, to confirm that the Government Employees Pension Fund has remained fully funded despite the turmoil in financial markets in recent years. A 6% increase in civil service pensions will be effected in April this year.CreditThere has been rapid growth in unsecured credit in recent years. The share of new mortgage lending has fallen rapidly, and is now less than or almost equal to both new vehicle credit and new personal loans. We will engage with the banking sector to explore how to increase the level and share of new mortgage loans. Small business financing must also be supported to a far greater extent than is being done.We are concerned by the abuse of emolument attachment orders that has left many workers without money to live on after they have serviced their debts every month. We are in discussion with the National Credit Regulator, the Department of Justice and banks, to ensure that the lending market remedies its behaviour. In the meanwhile, all employers, including the public sector, can play a role and assist their workers to manage their finances and to interrogate all emolument attachment or garnishee orders to ensure that they have been properly issued. I also call on the various law societies to take action against members who abuse the system.Tax policyAllow me to turn now to the revenue proposals.We find ourselves in a challenging period, with revenues lower than expected by R16.3-billion compared with estimates at the time of the 2012 budget. This is predominantly due to weak economic growth during the second half of 2012, mining sector disruptions and lower commodity prices. Tax revenues are expected to improve over the medium-term in line with higher economic growth and the stabilization of key commodity prices.Over the past decade, we have steadily broadened the tax base, both through policy reforms and improved revenue administration. This has made substantial tax relief possible, contributing both to household disposable income and a lower cost of doing business.The main tax proposals for 2013 are as follows:Personal income tax relief of R7-billion, together with adjustments to the medical tax credit and other monetary thresholds, amounting to about R350-million.Reforms to the tax treatment of contributions to retirement savings.An employment incentive through the tax system for first-time job seekers.Further tax relief for small businesses, including an increase in the monetary tax thresholds applicable for small business corporations.An overall increase of 23 cents per litre in fuel levies in April, which includes 8 cents per litre in the road accident fund levy.Increases in excise duties on alcohol and tobacco products of between 5.7% and 10%, and • Introduction of the carbon tax in 2015, together with the phasing-out of the electricity levy.A tax review will be initiated this year to assess our tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability, amongst other things.The Budget Review outlines various measures proposed to protect the tax base and limit the scope for tax leakage and avoidance. The taxation of trusts will come under review to control abuse; modifications are proposed to the tax treatment of employment share schemes and disability or income-protection policies; outstanding difficulties in the distinction between debt and equity will be addressed; and it is proposed that foreign businesses which sell e-books, music and other digital goods and services should be required to register as VAT vendors, in line with regulations which have been adopted by the European Union and other jurisdictions.Tax administrationMillions of honest taxpayers in our country continue to sustain our growth and development agenda. To them we owe a debt of gratitude and, more importantly, a commitment to spend that money wisely, efficiently and effectively. We thank you!Tax avoidanceWe also owe it to our taxpayers to ensure they are not carrying the burden of those who benefit from our country’s infrastructure and resources without paying their fair share of the costs.Around the world, taxpayers and their governments are challenging large multinational companies that pay little or no tax in the countries in which they operate. Meeting in Moscow earlier this month, finance ministers of the G20 countries were united in supporting an overhaul of international company tax rules to address this issue. The South African Revenue Service is currently engaging with companies that have their base of operations in SA but appear to have shifted a large proportion of their profits to low tax jurisdictions where only a few people are employed. This is unacceptable!SARS is also pursuing schemes identified under the revised general antiavoidance rules following several years’ painstaking work tracing transactions through multiple jurisdictions and entities. These benefits typically accrue to advisors and pre-existing shareholders, rather than new shareholders who were introduced as the ostensible beneficiaries of the transactions.Voluntary disclosureA temporary voluntary disclosure programme was implemented under legislation enacted in 2010 which allowed taxpayers in default to regularise their tax affairs. More than 18 000 taxpayers made use of the programme and tax of more than R3-billion has so far been collected as a result of the programme.From 1 October 2012, a permanent voluntary disclosure programme became effective as part of the Tax Administration Act (2011). Some 700 taxpayers have already come forward. Tax of more than R200-million will be collected before the end of March 2013.Non-complianceSARS is also targeting other areas of non-compliance, including recipients of government expenditure who are not up to date with their taxes. By working closely with Treasury and interfacing with the government payment system, SARS has identified companies who have received payments but have not declared their full income. They are being audited, and others will follow.This intervention will be further underpinned by the reform of the Tax Clearance Certificate process which I announced in October.In the near future, SARS will introduce a single registration process in which companies are able to register once-off in a simple manner for all tax types and customs activities.On this, we can perhaps consider adding the suggestion by Amanda Hayes, who runs a small business in Cape Town. She proposes that a single database of suppliers to government be created out of all the companies that apply to SARS for tax clearance certificates. In addition to reducing the burden on small businesses, Amanda says this database will help reduce corruption because of the tighter national oversight over companies who are registered.Medium-term expenditure framework and division of revenueI have indicated many of the specific programmes and activities of government that contribute to our growth and social development objectives. Allow me to summarise the framework within which these allocations are made.The 2013 Budget provides for continued real growth in spending to support service delivery, and to expand investment in infrastructure. It will also accommodate the costs of the three-year public service wage agreement signed last year.In the past, we have been able to add substantially to medium term spending plans during the budget, but this year is different. Money has been taken away from programmes that are not performing or are not aligned to government’s core priorities and given to programmes that are delivering as planned.The main appropriation provides for R1 055-billion in expenditure next year, rising to R1 226-billion in 2015/16. Debt-service costs will come to R100-billion next year, and R4-billion is set aside as a contingency reserve. This leaves R955-billion to be divided between the national, provincial and local spheres.National departments are allocated 47.6% of available funds in 2013/14.Provinces are allocated 43.5%, mainly for education, health and social welfare. Local government receives 8.9%, primarily for providing basic services to low-income households.Allocations from the contingency reserve will be made later in the year, mainly for unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure. Work is in progress to determine funding requirements for reconstruction and rehabilitation following flood damage in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and Mpumalanga. An allocation will also be made in the adjustments appropriation for the Dinaledi schools connectivity programme and other broadband infrastructure projects, subject to finalisation of implementation plans.The equitable division of revenue between provinces and municipalities takes into account the 2011 Census, which shows substantial shifts in the distribution and age structure of the population since 2001. The changes to provincial and municipal allocations will be phased in to avoid disruption of services.Allocations to provinces and municipalitiesThe provincial equitable share amounts to R338-billion in 2013/14, and conditional grants to provinces will total R77-billion. Additional allocations have been made to increase employment of social workers and to provide additional support to non-governmental organisations which provide critical welfare services. There is additional funding for teachers in the poorest 20% of schools and grade R classes, and for community library services. Provinces are also funded for an expansion in HIV and Aids programmes and an improved TB diagnosis system.Infrastructure transfers to provinces have increased sharply in recent years, growing from R4.8-billion in 2005/06 to R39.7-billion in 2012/13. To improve the quality of spending, the application process for infrastructure grants is being revised: provinces will be required to submit building plans two years ahead of implementation and will only receive allocations if plans meet certain benchmarks.A total of R85-billion is allocated for transfer to municipalities in 2013/14, rising to R101-billion in 2015/16. Additional allocations are made for municipal water infrastructure, public transport and integrated city development.Consolidated government expenditureThere is considerable detail in the Budget Review and the Estimates of National Expenditure on government spending plans and service delivery targets. I will highlight just a few key points.Consolidated government expenditure is budgeted to increase by 8.1% a year, from R1.1-trillion in 2012/13 to R1.3-trillion in 2015/16.Job creation and labourAllocations for employment programmes increase by 13.5% a year over the next three years.There will be higher funding for employment projects of non-governmental organisations and for Working for Fisheries. The expanded public works programme aims to support 684 800 fulltime equivalent jobs in 2013/14.Additional allocations are also made for the sheltered employment factories of the Department of Labour, and to support the work of the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration.Health and social protectionConsolidated spending on health and social protection is R268-billion in 2013/14.Health infrastructure remains a priority. In 2012, a total of 1 967 health facilities and 49 nursing colleges were in different stages of planning, construction and refurbishment.Substantial improvements in the social assistance payments system are in progress, providing easier access by recipients to their grants. The cost of social grants payments has been reduced from R32 to R16 per disbursement.Education, sport and cultureSpending on education, sport and culture will amount to R233-billion in 2013/14. Over the period ahead, the basic education sector will focus on improving numeracy and literacy, expanding enrolment in grade R and reducing school infrastructure backlogs. Together with the broader education infrastructure grant, R23.9-billion is available to provincial education departments for infrastructure over the next three years.R700-million has been allocated over the MTEF period for the technical secondary schools recapitalisation grant. This will finance construction and refurbishment of 259 workshops and training of over 1 500 technology teachers.Transfers to higher education institutions increase from R20.4-billion in 2012/13 to R24.6 billion in 2015/16. The total number of students enrolled in higher education institutions is expected to increase from 910 000 currently to 990 000 in 2015. Funding has been allocated for the construction of new universities in the Northern Cape and Mpumalanga to commence this year.Economic servicesExpenditure on economic services in 2013/14 will amount to R48-billion, including R5.3-billion for the manufacturing competiveness enhancement programme and R2.9-billion for special economic zones.Additional allocations include R450-million over three years to the Economic Development Department for the Small Enterprise Finance Agency. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will continue its support for smallholder farmers. Additional funding goes to the Department of Mineral Resources to support beneficiation and rehabilitate derelict and ownerless mines.The allocation to the Department of Science and Technology includes R2-billion to support the Square Kilometre Array project.Transport, energy and communicationsExpenditure on transport, energy and communications will amount to R89-billion next year.The allocation to the Department of Transport increases from R42.3-billion next year to R53.4-billion in 2015/16, reflecting increased allocations to the Passenger Rail Agency for its rolling stock procurement programme and further investment in the national road network. Additional funding goes to integrated public transport networks in urban areas, and for provincial road maintenance.The integrated national electrification grant is allocated additional funding to increase the number of new electricity connections by 645 000 over the next three years. The solar water geyser programme will be continued until 2015/16 and Sentech will receive R599-million over the medium term for the migration from analogue to digital terrestrial television.Local government, community amenities and housingLocal government, community amenities and housing are allocated R132-billion in 2013/14. The largest increases go to bulk water, water treatment and water distribution projects, and allocations to the local government equitable share.R4.3-billion is allocated to a new grant to be administered by the Department of Water Affairs, providing for water treatment, distribution, demand management and support for rural municipalities. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency of the Department for Cooperative Governance receives R820-million to provide technical assistance to rural and low-capacity municipalities.Funding for improving human settlements will grow from R26.2-billion to R30.5-billion over the next three years, including R1.1-billion to support the informal settlement upgrading programme in mining towns. Social housing receives an additional allocation of R685-million.General public servicesThe general public services function is allocated R57-billion in 2013/14. This includes the Sars budget of R9.5-billion, which is just over 1% of revenue to be collected.The Department of Public Works reprioritised R464 million over the medium term to fund its turnaround strategy, which focuses on lease and property management portfolios. The Public Service Commission receives R71.4-million to combat corruption and address grievances.Over the MTEF period, the Department of Home Affairs will spend R1-billion on its information systems modernisation programme, which has already led to substantial reductions in the time required to produce official documents.The allocations for defence, public order and safety amount to R154-billion in 2013/14.Provision is made for peace-keeping operations in the Central African Republic, where 400 defence force personnel have been deployed.The Department of Police has reprioritised R2.5-billion over the MTEF to improve detective and forensic capability. The Department of Justice and Constitutional Development receives R1.2 billion for the criminal justice sector revamp and modernisation programme. There is increased funding allocated to the National Prosecuting Authority for the Thuthuzela Care Centres. The Public Protector of South Africa receives funding to increase its investigative capacity and additional funds are also made to Legal Aid South Africa and the South African Human Rights Commission.Procurement and combating corruptionLast year I said to this House that we will continually endeavour to increase the value which government receives for the money it spends.Let me be frank. This is a difficult task with too many points of resistance!However, we have registered some progress. In the present system, procurement transactions take place at too many localities and the contracts are short term. Consequently there are hundreds of thousands of transactions from a multitude of centres. There is very little visibility of all these transactions.While our ablest civil servants have had great difficulty in optimising procurement, it has yielded rich pickings for those who seek to exploit it. There are also too many people who have a stake in keeping the system the way it is.Our solutions, hitherto, have not matched the size and complexity of the challenge. As much as I want, I cannot simply wave a magic wand to make these problems disappear. This is going to take a special effort from all of us in government, assisted by people in business and broader society. And it will take time. But we are determined to make progress.The process for setting up the Chief Procurement Office (CPO) in the National Treasury has begun in earnest and I shall soon be able to announce the name of a chief procurement officer. A project team seconded from state agencies and the private sector has identified four main streams of work, involving immediate remedial actions, improving the current system, standardising the defence, public order and safety procurement of critical items across all government and the long-term modernisation of the entire system.Among the first initiatives of the CPO will be to enhance the existing system of price referencing. This will set fair value prices for certain goods and services.Secondly, it will pilot procurement transformation programmes in the Departments of Health and Public Works, nationally and in the provinces.National Treasury is currently scrutinising 76 business entities with contracts worth R8.4-billion which we believe have infringed the procurement rules, while SARS is currently auditing more than 300 business entities and scrutinising another 700 entities. The value of these contracts is estimated at over R10-billion. So far 216 cases have been finalised resulting in assessments amounting to over R480-million being raised. The Financial Intelligence Centre has referred over R6.5-billion for investigation linked to corrupt activities.I fully support Minister Sisulu’s call for appropriate curbs on officials doing business with government. I will complement her initiative by aligning the Public Finance Management Act with the provisions of the Public Service Act.Worldwide, special measures are being taken to oversee the accounts of what have become known as “politically exposed persons” – public representatives and senior officials. I have asked that the FIC should explore how we might bring South Africa into line with these international anti-corruption and anti-money laundering standards.Taxpayers, and indeed all South Africans are understandably impatient for tangible change. A recurring theme in the tips sent to me for this budget was to ensure value for money. Peter Maibelo, aged 24, from Pretoria, summed it up as follows: “Minister I won’t be fancy with words or complicated ideas … my advice for a healthy and sustainable fiscus is to brutally eradicate corruption, then we will be honoured to pay taxes.”Mr Maibelo, I couldn’t agree more. Rooting out corruption requires collective effort from all of us.ConclusionMy sincere appreciation goes to President Zuma and Deputy President Motlanthe for their guidance and support.My appreciation also goes to Colleagues of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, for their continuous and vigorous engagement with the challenges that face us, and their bold and steadfast advice to Cabinet.I wish to thank my Cabinet colleagues who collectively own this budget. Their support and understanding for tough measures is highly appreciated.A heartfelt thank you to Deputy Minister Nene, whose vigilant participation and sound advice is invaluable to me.My thanks to the MECs of finance, who play a critical role as guardians of 43% of our spending.Our appreciation also goes to:Governor Gill Marcus and the deputy governor of the South African Reserve Bank, for their constructive management of monetary policy,Commissioner Oupa Magashula and the staff of the South African Revenue Service for their diligent contribution to fiscal stability – I hope better times return for them soon!The Financial and Fiscal Commission and its acting chairperson, for their contributions,Mr Jabu Moleketi, chairperson of the DBSA and its new CEO, Mr Patrick Dlamini, who are positioning the DBSA to make a greater contribution to infrastructure development,The chairperson of the Land Bank, Mr Ngubane, and CEO Mr Phakamani Hadebe, for their illustrious service to the bank,The leadership of the Public Investment Corporation, the Financial Services Board, the Financial Intelligence Centre and the Government Pension Administration Agency,The managing director of Nedlac, Mr Alistair Smith, and the constituency representatives for their engagements with the Treasury,The Honourable Thaba Mufamadi and Charel de Beer, who chair the Standing and Select Committees on Finance respectively, and the chairpersons of the Appropriations Committees, the Honourable Elliot Sogoni and Tebogo Chaane, who ensure that Parliament remains a vibrant forum for engagement, accountability and public participation,Director-General Lungisa Fuzile (and Mrs Fuzile) for his professionalism, frankness and profound commitment to building credible institutions and advancing government’s objectives,The management team and staff of the National Treasury, whose extraordinary contributions and caring for a better South Africa enhance our country’s standing in international fora,My Chief of Staff, Dondo Mogajane, and the ministry staff for their enthusiastic support,My very supportive family who make my contributions possible.And finally, I must express sincere gratitude to South Africans from all parts of the country who offer words of encouragement – as well as critiques and concerns! This is what keeps us accountable and drives us to constantly improve.The key pillars of this budget are:Global growth is improving, though uncertainty remains.South Africa’s economy must grow faster and more inclusively.Future growth is also dependent on private-sector investment in the economy.The National Development Plan will be implemented by government and budgets will be aligned to it.Government continues to invest significantly in infrastructureWe are taking additional steps to create opportunities for young people.Reduced revenue results in less spending in the years ahead unless the economy grows.There are new opportunities to be seized in Africa and other emerging markets.We have committed to reviewing and assessing our tax policy framework and its role in supporting the objectives of inclusive growth, employment, development and fiscal sustainability.A new local government formula benefits rural municipalities.Honourable Speaker, I table this budget in the hope that as a nation we will be able to rise above our sectional interest, and, as you said Mr President, prevail with greater maturity, pull together and take this country forward.We have said that South Africa is changing. Let us work together to ensure that really, tomorrow, will be better than today.In conclusion, let me remind this House of what former President Nelson Mandela said: “What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead…”I thank you.
HR professionals are on the front lines of the need for, and implementing requirements around, paid family leave. Given the uncertainty at the federal level in the policy area of paid family leave (PFL), with a recent proposal being floated that would open up workers’ social security benefits for them to “borrow” against their own federal retirement benefits to fund their current PFL time, it’s no wonder that states are stepping in to fill what they see as a gap in employees’ very real and unmet needs in this area. The results are creating significant business, compliance and human resources challenges in implementing a patchwork of legal requirements across the United States.As we observe the most recent law coming into effect in January of 2018 in New York, it’s important to consider how operationalizing legal requirements for paid family leave is not as simple as it seems. These are some of the challenging issues that must be resolved by HR:Alignment of current paid leave programs such as PTO, short-term disability benefits, FMLA, and sick leave with the state and local requirementsUpdating technological systems such as payroll programs and solutions for those in affected states so that accruals, usage and notifications are compliant with the lawChanging processes, documentation and protocols for leave requests so that legal requirements are fulfilledTraining HR, management and others on new processes and requirementsEnsuring that sufficient staff capacity is available to handle state-based processing requirementsRecognizing the complex situations that arise where state, local and federal law, as well as collective bargaining agreements and other requirements create the potential for complying with one set up requirements but violating another, and coming up with ways to avert this riskBuilding the internal expertise and relationships across siloed departments to effectively handle novel issues that may arise, in a way that treats employees like human beings and not problemsTo continue reading this post, please click here.
Related Posts How IoT Will Transform Cold Chain Logistics For… 5 Industries Destined for Technological Disruption Installing a lightbulb that connects to your blinds and TV might be confusing, but it’s a walk in the park compared to the task at hand for enterprises looking to deploy an Internet of Things (IoT) system.As businesses look to connect their entire fleet, engineering firms like Bsquare attempt to make the transition easier and the costs lower for companies, by deploying a software stack to advise, monitor, and report all data to the business.See Also: Has the Internet of Things gone too far? Bsquare’s software stack DataV offers a range of services to relieve some of the IoT worries, like modules for connecting devices, analyzing data, and scanning for defects in the system. According to chief executive Jerry Chase, this will allow customers to “get results more quickly” on whether the IoT deployment has been successful, and optimize the system.IoT deployment requires broad collaborationSpeaking to IDG’s Stephen Lawson, Chase said the customer is able to deploy DataV to the entire infrastructure or just parts of it, and the software stacks works fine third-party services. The ability to choose parts of DataV worries Chase, saying in the interview that some customers are not taking full advantage of the software stack, and are missing out on crucial services that could save time and money.Bsquare has a decent portfolio of partners using DataV, including Intel, Microsoft, and Aaeon.It is not just small firms working on enterprise IoT services. IBM, General Electric, and Hewlett Packard Enterprise have been building entire systems to help with the deployment and snapping up startups. However, the scale of enterprise IoT deployment requires broad collaboration between services providers, which is why we see Bsquare and other firms accepting third-party services on their software stack.The benefits of moving to a fully connected system might be difficult for some firms to realise, but with Gartner and IDC projecting over 25 billion smart devices in four years, it is clear the industry at large is moving towards a more connected future. Tags:#Bsquare#DataV#enterprise#Internet of Things#Software David Curry The Ultimate Checklist on Ways to Prevent IoT D… Electronic Design is Utilizing AI-Enabled Solu…
Copying VM’s directly between XenClient SystemsBob LudwigAndChaitanya UpadhyayNOTE!! Click on Pictures to enlarge them for easier viewing.If you are working with XenClient GA version 1.0 you have probably run into a situation where you would like to copy your XenClient VM’s to some other computer or storage device. This blog will describe the steps necessary to copy VM’s directly from one XenClient machine to another XenClient machine.We will assume that we have two XenClient laptops on the same subnet and are both connected to a Gb. switch or are directly cabled together. The XenClient software in use is the GA 1.0 version released on September 29, 2010.For purposes of this document Laptop #1 has two VM’s already installed on it, a Windows 7 VM and a XP VM. Laptop #1’s ip address is 192.168.1.40.Laptop #2 has no VM’s installed on it and its ip address is 192.168.1.20.We will show how to identify and transfer the XP VM from Laptop #1 to Laptop #2. Step 2.To determine which .vhd file is the XP VM we need to look inside the .db files that are located in the /config/vms subdirectory. Step 4.After typing the cat command we will scroll through the .db file until we see a statement starting with “path”. Here we can see the .vhd file that is the XP VM. We need to write down this .vhd name as we will need it in future steps. This is the .vhd file that we will transfer to Laptop #2 using the scp command.From this Point on all work is now performed on Laptop #2 Step 3.We will take a look inside the first .db file listed. We could use the vi editor, but in this example we will use the cat command and pipe the output to “more” Step 6.Still on Laptop #2 we need to look at the .db file and find out which .vhd file will be associated to it. We need to change directory to the /config/vms subdirectory Then we will use the same “cat” command as we did in step 3. Step 5.On laptop #2 we need to go through the process of adding a VM. However in the last step of the process we will state that we wish to create the VM, but we will install the OS later. (We will copy the OS from Laptop #1) Step 1.Open a terminal session on Laptop #1You will see two files in /storage/disks subdirectory. These correspond to the two VM’s on Laptop #1. The question is which .vhd file is the XP VM? Make note of the above .vhd file.Step 7.Still on Laptop #2 we will change directories to/storage/disks, and then run the scp command to copy the .vhd file from Laptop #1 to a file name of our choosing on laptop #2. After we type in the scp command as shown below, we will be asked for our XenClient password on Laptop #1. Type in the password and continue. You may also be asked a question regarding authenticity. Say yes to this and continue. It should only take a few minutes to scp the file from Laptop #1 to Laptop #2. This can obviously vary depending upon how large the VM is that we are transferring.Once scp is finished copying the file you will now have a file named XP-OS.vhd. The final step is to move this file into the .vhd file on Laptop#2 (the .vhd file in step 6). That’s all there is to it. Hope this helps you. Now close the terminal window and start the VM.
With significant growth projections, wearables have become more than a passing trend and are truly changing the way people and organizations think about managing health. I hear from many companies and customers who want to understand how the wearables market is impacting patient care as well as some of the changes taking place with providers, insurers, and employers. In the next several blogs, I’ll share some of their questions and my responses. The first question is:Please give an overview of the wearable technology industry as it relates to healthcare, and what is the projected growth?In healthcare there are two main vectors of activity, starting with the health and fitness-oriented consumer devices such as the Fitbit, Fuel Band, and some of the emerging smart watches. These devices measure steps, sleep activity or general activity to try to encourage a healthy lifestyle.The second vector includes devices found in clinical settings. For example, a company called Sotera Wireless has a vital signs monitoring device that is worn by the patient in the hospital. The key value proposition is that you have continuous monitoring rather than having a nurse come in periodically to take the patient’s vitals. Plus, the patient is not tethered to the wall or the bed so they can move and walk around more freely.Another example that was not necessarily designed for clinicians is Google Glass, which has received a fair amount of press. It has been approved for use in some hospitals, and there are a number of use cases emerging. One is around streamlining clinician workflow support, so the clinician doesn’t have to interact with other screens in other areas of the patient room or the operating room.In this first wave of wearable device adoption in the healthcare industry, we see a lot of repurposing of devices that were originally designed for other uses. Over time, we’ll see more sophisticated devices targeted at the industry. Some wearable devices will likely be regulated, for example, those for real-time glucose monitoring. But the payoff will be that purpose-built devices can better meet the complex needs of the healthcare industry, whether it’s, for example, remote monitoring of patients or encouraging health plan members to adopt a healthier lifestyle.According to IDC, vendors will ship over 45 million wearable units in 2015; an increase of over 133 percent from 2014 worldwide shipments. They predict 45 percent annual growth for shipment volumes over the next several years, meaning roughly 126 million devices in 2019. If you look more broadly at the Internet of Things (IoT), in which wearables are a category, IDC is predicting a 36 billion dollar market for healthcare by 2018, so there are very aggressive growth projections.In healthcare, the key driver of growth is moving from periodic monitoring, traditionally associated with the occasional visit to a doctor, to daily or even continuous monitoring of the patient’s specific conditions and general wellness. Wearables won’t replace the doctor visit, but they can establish baselines to measure against, and the streaming patient-generated data they sense and collect will improve the accuracy of predictive models to give insight into how a patient is really doing in near-real time. We are seeing just the tip of the iceberg today as companies target the healthcare vertical and build more sensing capabilities into devices.What questions about wearables do you have? What do you think?In my next blog, I’ll look at some of the ways that wearables are impacting providers, payers and employers as well as patients.