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GAA NEWS: LETTERKENNY GAELS SEEK NEW MANAGERS

By on December 27, 2019

first_imgLETTERKENNY GAELS CLUB NOTESApplications are invited in writing for our Reserves, Under 21 and Minor Football Team Manager Posts. Written applications must be lodged with Jim McGlynn, Club Secretary by email or post not later than Friday, 8th January 2016. Further Information is available on our Club Website, Facebook and Twitter.There are still remaining Donegal GAA Yearbooks available which can be purchased by contacting 087 2931458. Priced at only €10 these 212 page glossy publications include full coverage of all things GAA in the county and also a comprehensive review of the season at Letterkenny Gaels. The annual Presentation Buffett took place last Tuesday night in the Arena 7. The Club Person of the Year was awarded to James Frain while presentations were made to the following players:Senior Players of the Year: Darren Hunter and Kevin Kilkenny, Reserve Player of the Year: Bobby Carey, Most Improved Player of the Year: Sean McDonagh, Under 21 Player of the Year: Conor McBrearty, Minor Players of the Year: Shane Graham and Cormac Cannon. For a full review and photos of the night please see our Club Facebook.The club AGM has been rescheduled for Saturday 16th January at 6pm in our Club Room at the Glebe. All club members are asked to make every effort to attend.Tickets for the GAA National Draw are now on sale. This is a great way of raising much needed funds for the club. Tickets priced at €10 are available from club members. For details of prizes see Letterkenny Gaels Facebook page.Camogie training and the winter league for u-8 & u-10 teams resumes on 29th of January from 6-6.45pm at the LYIT. U-12 camogie and girls circuits will also resume on 29th from 7-8pm. New members always welcome. Contact 086 8163505 for more details. Hurling training for u-6 to u-13’s resumes on Monday 25th January from 6-7pm at the Aura. All welcome. Please note change of time and venue. Contact 086 8405785 for more details.Underage football will resume on Friday 5th February at 6pm for u-6 at Woodlands NS and u-8 in the Aura at 7.30pm.Underage football presentation night will be on Saturday 30th January in the Gaels Club Room.For regular club updates and photos see our club web page, Facebook page or follow us on Twitter @LetterkennyGaelGAA NEWS: LETTERKENNY GAELS SEEK NEW MANAGERS was last modified: January 5th, 2016 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:Letterkenny Gaels noteslast_img read more

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DONEGAL AND TYRONE CHAMBERS UNITE TO PROMOTE ACCESSABILITY

By on December 25, 2019

first_imgThree Chambers of Commerce in the North West have come together to promote accessibility in Donegal and Strabane.The heads of the Chambers in Letterkenny, Ballybofey / Stranorlar and Strabane have come out in support of the Change a Little, Change a Lot Accessibility Awards. The awards programme encourages organisations make little changes to their work practices and working environment under four headings: access to information, built environment, communication and attitudes and awareness.Funding for this project has been provided by the European Union’s INTERREG IVA programme, secured by Co-operation and Working Together’s (CAWT) Community Awareness Programme.Toni Forrester CEO of Letterkenny Chamber says improving access is a smart business move.“This is a wonderful initiative rewarding businesses who make small changes to improve accessibility. The free support package from ADAPT will help organisations to get involved, even those who feel they have little or no additional financial resources to spend in this area. We will certainly be encouraging our members to participate.” Charlie Ferry is Chairman of Ballybofey Stranorlar Chamber of Commerce. He says the importance of accessibility just makes business sense given that 12% of the population has a disability.“Organisations who are committed to looking after all their customers including those with disabilities will be honoured through this campaign and we are delighted to be on board.”Declan Hughes, Chairman of Strabane Chamber of Commerce is inviting their members to get involved.“We are asking our members to consider entering under one of the eight categories which are transport, health, education, housing, retail, industry and hospitality. Winners will be rewarded with a free marketing package from Media Box, which promises to provide free media profiling to award winning organizations in this difficult time.The Change a Little, Change a Lot Accessibility Awards programme is open to businesses, non-profit and statutory organisations based in the Strabane District Council area and in adjoining border areas within Donegal County Council’s remit including Killea, Carrigans, St. Johnston, Newtowncunningham, Manorcunningham, Raphoe, Convoy, Castlefinn, Killygordon, Lifford, Letterkenny, Drumkeen, Ballybofey, Stranorlar and Cloghan.An independent Advisory Committee will decide on the allocation of all Awards. This programme will run until May, so organizations are encouraged to enter now and make those changes which will ultimately create a win-win situation for all involved. At the end of the Campaign, eight Change a Little, Change a Lot Accessibility Awards Category Winners will be chosen and one overall Change a Little, Change a Lot Accessibility Award Winner will be announced at a Gala Awards Ceremony on 30th May 2013. For more information on the awards log onto www.changealittlechangealot.com or find them on facebook and twitter. You can also contact Media Box on 00353 74-9168478 or email Joanne@mediabox.ieDONEGAL AND TYRONE CHAMBERS UNITE TO PROMOTE ACCESSABILITY was last modified: October 9th, 2012 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

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HARPS LEFT SHEL-SHOCKED AFTER 2-0 DEFEAT

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first_imgFinn Harps have suffered their first defeat of the season after eventually going down 2-0 to table-toppers Shelbourne at Tolka Park tonight.In a fairly nip and tuck opening period, it was Shels who opened the scoring on the 23rd minute and in some impressive style.Gareth Coughlan was fouled on the edge of the Harps area and he duly unleashed a superb free-kick into the top left corner of Winn’s net to make it 1-0. Harps tried to regroup after going behind but Shels continued to pass the ball well throughout and kept Harps’ chances to a minimum.Without the young and not-so-young guns of Ruairi Keating and Kevin McHugh, Harps were struggling in the firing line.But just before the half-time whistle Mickey Funston had the perfect opportunity to reply from the penalty spot.But the Harps midfielder fluffed his lines as Greg Murray saved with his foot after Lee Desmond had taken down Damien McNulty in the box. After the restart Harps had a succession of corners which unfortunately didn’t results in anything.Coughlan almost doubled his tally for Shels in the 72nd minute when his powerful shot came back off the bar.Harps cause wasn’t help by the sending off of Josh Mailey as the Dublin outfit ran down the clock.And when referee Andrew Mullally pointed to the penalty spot at the death, Keith Quinn sealed the points on a night when Harps got a wake-up call after such a promising start to the season. HARPS LEFT SHEL-SHOCKED AFTER 2-0 DEFEAT was last modified: April 5th, 2014 by StephenShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Tags:finn harpsShelbourneTolka Parklast_img read more

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Donegal artists go incognito for secret sale in aid of Jack & Jill

By on December 21, 2019

first_imgSeven creatives from Donegal have donated works to an extraordinary art sale in aid of the Jack & Jill Foundation.But who they are and what pieces they’ve created is a mystery.The INCOGNITO 2019 event will be will be the largest art sale in Ireland this year, with 2,600 postcard-size pieces of original artworks donated by over 1,000 International artists, including 7 artists from County Donegal. Each of these original art pieces will be sold to the public on a first-come-first-served basis for €50 — the twist is that no one will know the identity of the artist until after they buy the piece.The pieces can now be viewed on www.incognito.ie, ahead of the sale days, which take place in the Solomon Gallery Dublin from 5th – 7th April and the Lavit Gallery Cork from 17th – 18th May.  Preview days are being held in the galleries on 3rd and 4thApril in Dublin and on 16th May in Cork.With works by well-known artists valued at many times the sale price, this is an opportunity to find yourself the owner of a collector’s dream or simply an artwork that you love.Artists submitting their work for INCOGNITO 2019 include Paul Costelloe, Bono, Maser, Tom Climent, Mick O’Dea, Ed Miliano, Adrian + Shane, Abigail O’Brien, Peter Curling, Martin Mooney and Victor Richardson. Paul Costelloe and Jack & Jill nurse Anne ReillyNow in its third year, the art sale has proven to be a huge success, with last year’s sell-out event raising over €95,000 for Jack & Jill.Every €16 raised funds one hour of home nursing care for over 340 children who are under Jack & Jill’s wing today; including the 7 families currently receiving care in County Donegal.These precious children, with severe neurodevelopmental delay, who may never walk or talk or paint a picture themselves, do better at home with their families supported by the Jack & Jill nursing care service.Speaking at the announcement Carmel Doyle, CEO of Jack & Jill said buyers’ interest is already high: “It’s a real art lotto and, if last year is anything to go by, people will be queuing from early morning outside both galleries to purchase their favourite piece.”View the pieces on www.incognito.ie Donegal artists go incognito for secret sale in aid of Jack & Jill was last modified: March 14th, 2019 by Rachel McLaughlinShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Tags:art saleartistsincognitojack & jilllast_img read more

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Gordhan: we can do better

By on December 18, 2019

first_imgFinance 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.last_img read more

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Artificial intelligence being applied on farms takes data to the next level

By on December 17, 2019

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest It was not long ago when the term “artificial intelligence” was something largely reserved for sci-fi movies. But, increasingly, daily life is being influenced with the use of artificial intelligence (AI).“AI is changing everything from the way we shop with products like Amazon’s Echo using voice commands to initiate the purchase of products while other AI devices like Nest keep our homes safe and comfortable,” said Christopher Wiegman, a graduate student in the Ohio State University Department of Food, Agricultural and Biological Engineering. “These devices represent a new type of ‘smart’ technology that utilizes AI or machine learning. Machine learning distills large amounts of input data into algorithms based on patterns. The amount of investment in the field of AI has grown substantially spanning all economic sectors ranging from industrial to consumer goods, health care and even banking. Technology titans such as IBM, Microsoft, Google, Amazon, and Facebook are committing heavily to continuing development of AI.”Agriculture is certainly a potential beneficiary of the AI progress.“AI could analyze all the inputs of agricultural production such as hybrid performance based on historical yield and disease pressure. AI may also help with selecting plant populations based on weather models, soil types and topography, or nutrient and water availability,” Wiegman said. “If there is one area that the digital agriculture revolution has given producers, it is a mountain of data. AI will help producers interpret this data and extract actionable information with which to enhance profitability while ensuring the sustainability of their enterprises.”These types of applications are at the forefront of the pipeline development for The Climate Corporation.“One of the biggest things we see on the horizon that we are excited about is getting more data pulled together in a different model that relies on advanced tools like artificial intelligence. This allows for more insights from the data because we can extract more meaningful information that we can bring to bear on management decisions,” said Brian Lutz, yield analytics lead for The Climate Corporation. “Machine learning is a tool that thrives on extremely large amounts of data. Farming is complex and there is lots of information. It is hard to know what the most important patterns are. The machine learning models can pull the important patterns out for us that we just can’t do for ourselves without the use of these kinds of models. They dive into the data and surface the most important patterns so we can translate them into insights for better management.”This type of work is ongoing, but will be translated into some new user options being offered by The Climate Corporation.“When we first announced our pipeline a year ago we had over 35 different projects. Since then we have made significant advances in half the pipeline projects and we are moving forward. The majority of those 17 advancements over the last year are in the three buckets of seed scripting tools, fertility management tools and what we are doing with disease management,” Lutz said. “Disease can be difficult to manage because it can be hard to positively identify what disease you have. Lesions of different diseases can look quite similar and even some abiotic stresses look similar. We are developing technology similar to what is in Facebook where they do facial recognition. So, with that technology growers can use their cell phones to take a picture of the corn leaf and the models that are embedded will automatically identify what disease it is. It really helps with the diagnosis part of it. We are also able to marry that with our high-resolution weather data. Not only do we want to know when a disease is present, we also want to know when to alert growers that the weather conditions are prone to fostering that disease. With disease management, timing is everything. That helps them to be timely and make decisions faster. We offer geospatial and scouting tools too so everything is geo-referenced.”The development of seed prescriptions also harnesses a large amount of data.“With seed scripting we are bringing all of these types of data together. One area of focus is seed placement — what type of seed to plant and where. As we add more information about soil types, management practices and weather conditions, we marry that up with our plant genetics data at Monsanto so we can really hone in on which hybrid or variety is able to perform best in that particular acre of the field,” Lutz said. “The other side of the coin is the seeding rate. Variable rate seed scripts have been really popular. We know that every acre performs differently and we have the tools to make that variable rate scripting easy.”Ohio agriculture understands very well the complexities of efficient nutrient management and AI can help offer more tools to help.“One of the big focal points in our fertility platform now is our P and K scripting tools. We are also starting to focus on soil pH and lime. One of our flagship products has been our nitrogen management tool. Growers have seen the value in getting a more in-depth look at nitrogen in their fields. But one of the biggest asks that we’ve had in the last couple of years was to expand beyond nitrogen to P and K,” Lutz said. “We are trying to maximize the use of all inputs, including fertilizer, on every acre so that we are not over applying but also maximizing output. That is what these tools are all about. We want to make sure we are doing the best possible job of taking all of the information into account.”The viability of these types of applications moving forward depends on not only gathering on-farm data, but then also analysis with the help of AI and machine learning.“In the last couple of years we have had tremendous success in getting all the data in one place. That has led the value for us. Now as we bring more data streams we can go beyond just having your data all in one place and derive the most insight from it,” Lutz said. “Growers are increasingly collecting more data. We have grid soils samples, as-applied data, high-res information about the soils — when it is all spread out, that information doesn’t do much by itself. It is only when it is all integrated into one place that it can be used to make better decisions.”last_img read more

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Nutrition Apps Dietitians Recommend!

By on December 12, 2019

first_imgWhat features do you look for in a health app?How do you select and evaluate health apps:Blog by Robin Allen MSPH, RDN, LDNWhat a great webinar “Mobile Apps for RDNs in Patient Care: What Does the Evidence Say?”  I learned about the many different features that make apps useful for Dietitians to use in their daily practice.   If you missed this webinar you can still earn 1.0 CPEU by watching the recording and completing the evaluation located at the event page.  We discovered according to the polls that most Dietitians choose apps based on recommendations from other dietitians.  Below are apps suggested by our participants and other dietitians:Nutrition apps suggested by DietitiansFitbitMyfitness PalLose it!SparkPeopleSworkit: Personalized workout videos.Baritastic: Weight loss surgery app.Coach mobile: Top Beachbody coach tips.SupertrackerRecovery Record: eating disorder treatmentMap my walkMy SymptomsNike running app and iRunneriFitBG Star glucose monitoringPerformance triadMonash University FODMAPHealth Watch 360ALIVE-PD: online support for preventing diabetesCalorie Counter by Fat SecretSome helpful apps specific to diabetes are:Fooducate: healthy food and diet scanner with over 200,000 products in the databaseGlooko Logbook: quickly & accurately records blood glucose readings by syncing to your glucose meterDiabetic Audio Recipes Bite: healthy easy recipes; app reads direction to you so you can keep your hands free for cookingDiabetic Connect: biggest diabetes network on the web; support from your peersGlucose Buddy-Diabetes Helper: reminder to monitor blood glucose, tracts blood glucose levels, carb intake, medicine, A1C and moreDiabetes Buddy-Control Your Blood Sugar: reminder to monitor blood glucose, tracts blood glucose levels, carb intake, medicine, A1C and moreOn Track Diabetes: helps track blood glucose, food intake, medications, blood pressure, pulse, activity and weightGlucool Diabetes: helps customize your diabetes management planDiabetes Pilot: records blood glucose, medications, exercise, test results, weight and more; helps you make healthier food choices; calculate correct insulin dosage; charts blood glucose over timeWave Sense Diabetes ManagerBlood Glucose Star® Diabetes ManagerMy Net Diary: over 475,000 different foodsDlife Diabetes CompanionWorkout Trainer: features workouts led by personal trainers; does not require any equipmentWhat apps do you use in your health care practice?This was posted by Robin Allen, a member of the Military Families Learning Network (MFLN) Nutrition and Wellness team that aims to support the development of professionals working with military families.  Find out more about the MFLN Nutrition and Wellness concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, and LinkedIn.last_img read more

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Two policemen killed in Kashmir

By on December 3, 2019

first_imgTwo policemen were killed and 11 security personnel injured on Tuesday in two pre-dawn militant attacks in south Kashmir. The latest incidents have taken the number of attacks during the Ramzan ‘cease-ops’ to 45.A police official said three policemen guarding a government building came under fire early in the morning in Pulwama town. “Terrorists attacked the guard posts at the Pulwama court complex. In the exchange of fire, two policemen were killed. The area is being combed,” the police spokesman said.The deceased were identified as Ghulam Rasool and Ghulam Hassan from Baramulla and Kupwara districts. Two service rifles were also reportedly looted from the picket.Militants threw a grenade at a CRPF party at Anantnag’s Janglat Mandi. “Ten CRPF personnel sustained minor injuries. They were shifted to hospital,” said a spokesman.The police also defused an improvised explosive device at Pulwama’s Awantipora. “It was planted in the Kanjinag link road near a grid station,” said the police. According to officials, the Army resorted to aerial firing Shopian’s D.K. Pora after youth hurled stones at an Army vehicle. The Army were removing pro-militants and anti-India graffiti in the area when they were attacked with stones.The incidents came as Muslim devotees across the Kashmir Valley were participating in Shab-e-Qadr — special nightlong prayers held during Ramzan. Due to the special prayers, the Valley has witnessed traffic on the roads in the night too.According to police data, militants initiated at least 45 attacks since the Ramzan ceasefire which include 19 grenade attacks. The attacks left one Armyman and a policeman dead and left 55 persons, including 27 security personnel injured.The Army also killed 20 militants, mainly infiltrators in frontier district of Baramulla and Kupwara during the same period. Two civilians also died in security action. Around 50 incidents of stone pelting were reported for the period — a significant dip from the previous months this year.Parties condemn attacksAll major political parties have condemned Tuesday’s militant attack during the Shab-e-Qadr prayers. Parties across the spectrum including ruling Peoples Democratic Party, National Conference and Congress, condemned the militants attack on Tuesday on the occasion of Shab-e-Qadr, when devotees hold nightlong prayers in Ramzan.“With the militant organisations doing their best to ensure the ceasefire is a failure they will only have themselves to blame if the security forces come back at them even harder when the ceasefire ends…And (attacks) that too on the night of Shab-e-Qadr, the killers of these police personnel deserve nothing but the eternal flames of hell and that is where they are destined to find themselves,” said National Conference vice-president and former chief minister Omar Abdullah.PDP leader Naeem Akhtar said such killings are highly condemnable. “These acts will not contribute in anyway to the atmosphere building towards holding a dialogue process. These forces are inimical to any positive move towards addressing issues in J&K,” said Mr. Akhtar.A Congress spokesman described the killing as “dastardly and inhuman”. “The situation in the Valley has worsened to a largest extent due to wrong policies adopted by both State and the Centre,” he said.last_img read more

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PSC partners with USANA

By on November 28, 2019

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next National Coffee Research Development and Extension Center brews the 2nd National Coffee Education Congress Lacson: SEA Games fund put in foundation like ‘Napoles case’ PSC chair Butch Ramirez and Usana Philippines vice president Aurora Mandanas-Gaston (center) with (from l-r) PSI national training director Marc Edward Velasco, Josephine Medina, Usana executive Lerwin Onanad and Rubilen Amit. Photo by June NavarroThe Philippine Sports Commission has forged a partnership with the United States-based company Usana Health Sciences, Inc. that will benefit the 300 elite athletes from the national team for the next two years.PSC chair Butch Ramirez and Usana Philippines vice president Aurora Mandanas-Gaston signed a memorandum of agreement Wednesday together with Philippine Sports Institute national training director Marc Edward Velasco and Usana field development supervisor Lerwin Onanad.ADVERTISEMENT LATEST STORIES “I’m very happy that Usana partnered with us and invested in our athletes,’’ said Ramirez. “Any help and support for the national team is welcome news and shall be vital in our campaign for higher achievement on the global arena.’’Velasco said nutritional supplements will be given to Filipino athletes who played in the Olympics, Asian Games and medalists of the previous Southeast Asian Games as well as Class A, B and C priority athletes.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSSEA Games: Biñan football stadium stands out in preparedness, completionSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSWin or don’t eat: the Philippines’ poverty-driven, world-beating pool starsBefore the government sports agency formed the teamup, Usana has already been supporting 30 national athletes, including Olympic silver medalist Hidilyn Diaz, Southeast Asian Games men’s triathlon champion Nikko Huelgas, Misagh Bahadoran of the Philippine Azkals and Amit. FEU Auditorium’s 70th year celebrated with FEU Theater Guild’s ‘The Dreamweavers’ MOST READ Church, environmentalists ask DENR to revoke ECC of Quezon province coal plant Robredo should’ve resigned as drug czar after lack of trust issue – Panelo Trump strips away truth with hunky topless photo tweet Ethel Booba on hotel’s clarification that ‘kikiam’ is ‘chicken sausage’: ‘Kung di pa pansinin, baka isipin nila ok lang’ View comments Lacson: PH lost about P161.5B tax revenue from big trading partners in 2017 PLAY LIST 03:46Lacson: PH lost about P161.5B tax revenue from big trading partners in 201702:47Palace: PH economy won’t suffer without aid from UN probe backers01:32Rescuers retrieve the body of a quake victim in Batanes02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games Barcelona says Neymar wants to leave club amid PSG rumors DILG, PNP back suspension of classes during SEA Gameslast_img read more

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Madrid Open: Rafael Nadal set for semi-final showdown with Novak Djokovic

By on November 19, 2019

first_imgRafael Nadal withstood a tough challenge from David Goffin 7-6 (3), 6-2 to reach the Madrid Open semifinals on Friday.In a meeting between the players with the most match wins this year, Nadal saved all five break points he faced against the 10th-ranked Belgian, and converted his chances in the second set to win his 13th straight match.Nadal’s tour-leading 32nd victory set up a semifinal against defending champion Novak Djokovic, who advanced when Kei Nishikori withdrew before their match because of a wrist injury.Goffin, who has 27 victories, was trying to make it to his third final this season.He saved all six break opportunities he conceded to Nadal in the firstset, but the fifth-ranked Spaniard took control of the tiebreaker underthe closed roof on center court.Nadal, a four-time champion inMadrid, had an easier time in the second set after earning an earlybreak, and closed out the match with another at the end.”We hadto hit very close to the line to win the points,” said Nadal, who istrying to win his third consecutive title after victories in Monte Carlo and Barcelona.In another quarterfinal, Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay rallied to beatAlexander Zverev of Germany 3-6, 6-0, 6-4. Cuevas won one of the pointsof the tournament with a no-look winner with his back to the court after a lob shot by Zverev early in the second set.The sixth-seeded Nishikori withdrew saying his wrist was “not 100 percent” and he didn’t “want to risk” a more serious injury.advertisement”I don’t want to go too hard on my wrist,” the Japanese player said. “I want to fight again in every match.”On the women’s side, defending champion Simone Halep of Romania cruised past Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 6-2, 6-3 to reach her third Madrid Open final. The third-seeded Halep, who also lost the 2014 final to Maria Sharapova, will play to keep her title against eighth-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia or Kristina Mladenovic of France.last_img read more

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