News in South Africa 12th November:

1. Budget speech receives mixed reviews:

Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana’s Medium-term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) has received mixed reaction, with some opposition parties welcoming his stance on government spending.

Budget speech receives mixed reviews
Image taken by: Pixabay

Tabling his statement, Godongwana said that consolidated government spending was expected to increase over three years.

But he announced no additional funding for SOEs, a move welcomed by parties.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) said that Minister Gongwana fell far short of key expectations to shore up the economy and accelerate the post-pandemic economic recovery.

But DA finance spokesperson, Dion George, said that the party was happy that Godongwana decided to use a revenue overrun stemming from running commodities prices to address the deficit.

FF Plus MP Wouter Wessels said that Godongwana made the correct noises, but questioned whether the policies would be implementable.

“He identified the problem and the crisis but is it implementable and the problem is that we have policy uncertainty in South Africa that is hindering economic growth,” Wessels said.

Union federation Cosatu said that it was disappointed by what it called a “tepid” budget which provided few new ideas or interventions to grow the economy.

2. New e-visa system:

Finance minister Enoch Godongwana has announced that South Africa will officially launch its new e-visa system in 2022.

Godongwana said that the now completed system will be rolled out to 15 countries by March 2022, providing much-needed support for the tourism sector.

The rollout of more e-visas is expected to be beneficial for both tourists and for the local economy as the system significantly reduces the amount of administrative time and requirements required for visitors to enter South Africa.

The entire e-visa application process takes place online and takes around 20 minutes, provided the applicant has all of the necessary supporting documents ready for submission.

Should one of the required documents be missing, applicants can resume the process exactly where they left off at a later date.

The Department of Home Affairs has previously said that it intends to rollout the e-visa system and service to visitors from China, India, Nigeria, Kenya and 10 other countries.

The full list of countries which could receive e-visas, subject to approval, includes:

  • Cameroon
  • DRC
  • Egypt
  • Ethiopia
  • Mexico
  • Uganda
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Iran
  • Philippines
  • Pakistan.

While major travel restrictions have largely been lifted across the world, people travelling to and from South Africa still face a number of hurdles.

3. Eskom false claims criticised:

Eskom has suspended rolling blackouts.

The utility will provide an update of its systems at 10am on Friday morning.

At the same time, the Association of Municipal Electricity Utilities is slamming Eskom’s claim that some municipalities ignored instructions to cut power.

The association says the allegations should be investigated before being made public.

AMEU’s strategic adviser Vally Padaychee said: “We feel that Eskom’s allegations in the media, we’re still calling them allegations because it hasn’t been proven, was presumptious and too early to have made a call that these municipalities were not compliant.

4. More tax to be collected:

SARS’ job has been made all the tougher by finance minister Enoch Godongwana budgeting in an additional R120 billion in tax collection for this financial year.

SARS head Edward Kieswetter said that the minister has given him a tough task, but he is confident that the revenue service will be able to collect the funds.

Kieswetter said that mining companies have benefited greatly this year due to the commodities boost, which will lead to higher taxes paid. He said that further investments into people, technology, and data have also helped the tax collector identify areas where revenues fall short.

5. Covid double gov employee deaths:

The Covid-19 crisis has affected government employment in three significant ways, according to a supporting document in finance minister, Enoch Godongwana’s maiden Medium Term Budget Policy Statement on Thursday.

One of the most notable, according to an annexure on compensation data, is seeing the number of people employed in the health function increase by 5,8% or 18,458 to 337,671.

In contrast, the overall number of people in all of government’s other functions like police and defence was reduced by 9,629. This meant “employment in major government functions” had only risen 0,7% or by 8,830 to 1,338,951.

“The increase in health sector employment in 2020/21 included the addition of over 10,000 nurses, doctors and other professional healthcare workers.”

“In 2021, about 17,300 health professionals were recruited on time-bound contracts relative to an average of just under 6,000 for the previous four financial years. Unlike in previous years, appointments were made throughout the year, rather than just in January, February and March, when new graduates are recruited.”

The second way Covid-19 affected government employment is in the number of official deaths rising to nearly double the average for the previous five years.

The number of state employees who died in 2020/21 was 10,974. This was almost twice the 5,261 who died in the previous financial year.

The third way the pandemic affected government employment is the fall off in the number of resignations.

“The number of resignations was 32% lower than the average for the previous five years, likely due to very weak conditions.”

All information sourced from articles posted by: EWN, BusinessTech, ENCA, Moneyweb, and Business Insider.

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