The Treasury should not be congratulated on its R48-billion allocation to health because the R8-billion increase has not kept up with inflation or with the increase in health practitionersâ€™ salaries, say health analysts. "You can have beautiful clinics, but if there is no one [motivated] to work in them, what is the point?"
Naledi Pandor and Lindiwe Sisulu wore broad grins during Wednesdayâ€™s Budget speech, as Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel repeatedly turned towards their seats on Parliamentâ€™s front benches to announce new funding for projects that put education and housing at the heart of the governmentâ€™s social development plans.
Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel has allocated the largest tranche of the Budget to the provinces â€” but National Treasury is to exert a much firmer grip on how provincial and local governments spend their money. A key reform introduced in this yearâ€™s budget is a change in the way social grants are funded.
"We must all work together to pull the wagon through the drift," Trevor Manuel said in every official language but English on Wednesday. And he is using all the room available in the Constitution to ensure that local and provincial governments get their shoulders to the wheel. His balancing act was eased by a larger-than-expected tax overrun.
The CEO of Stanlib Asset Management, Allan Miller, is looking gleefully at the increases for police officers and teachers to guide his investment decisions. The move will put more money in their pockets and they will be able to increase spending as well as take on more credit.
Thanks to an unexpected increase in revenue of more than R11-billion this year, Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel again played Mr Nice Guy and cut individual taxes by a further R6,8-billion. This bonanza is aimed at the lower-income earner, with 62,8% of the benefit going to people who earn less than R200Â 000 a year.
"Going once at R27Â 000, twice at R27Â 000, gone!" Thatâ€™s the price paid at auction this week for Minister of Finance Trevor Manuelâ€™s 2005 Budget speech and neckwear. The speech and the red-and-cream striped tie fetched about half of last yearâ€™s price at the traditional African National Congress post-Budget fund-raiser.
With almost half of South Africa categorised as poor, the national Budget must be looked at for its impact on poverty. To what extent does it extend an effective social welfare net and how much tax relief is targeted at working-class families as opposed to the wealthy?
The tobacco industry has reacted with mixed feelings to Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel's announcement on Wednesday of an increase of 7,5% and 14,9% in tobacco tax, saying the increase will add to the attractiveness of South Africa as a target market for groups who deal in counterfeit and smuggled cigarettes.
The Treatment Action Campaign (TAC) says it is happy with the amount Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel set aside for HIV/Aids on Wednesday but worries about whether it will be spent properly. The total budget for fighting HIV/Aids will rise in the coming year to about R4,3-billion, a rise of about R1-billion over current spending.