Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan took centre stage this afternoon to deliver the much anticipated budget speech, which was optimistic. With a consolidated revenue target of R1 324 billion for 2016/17, a plan for major saving in the next three years, and a 2.4 percent deficit decline by 2018/19, it looks like we’re off to a great start.
- Shape up or pay more: yes, there will be taxes on sweetened or sugary drinks to help curb the obesity and diabetes problem in South Africa.
- Great things for education: thanks to the recent student revolt. NSFAS will get R2.5 billion to clear outstanding student debt, and a further R8 billion to help current students complete their studies. The basic education ministry also got a major financial boost. More than 500 unsafe schools will be rebuilt, and nearly 2 000 will be supplied with water and or electricity by 2018.
- The road to health: At least R4.5 billion is set aside for revitalising the health systems in the NHI pilot districts, with more money to be spent on TB and antiretroviral programmes. Plus funding will be set aside on recreational centres.
- Puff and pass: Alcohol and tobacco were expected to get tax increases. It’s better to quit while you still can, or be prepared to pay more.
- Small and medium enterprises: Some R475 million has been reprioritised to help small businesses grow in 2016. Now would be the perfect time to start that business you’ve been thinking about.
- Abo gogo nabo mkhulu: Senior citizens’ grant increases to R1 500 and gets a further R10 increase in October, and child grant goes up to R350.