Nature ground opens to public

first_imgThe nearly 700-acre nature sanctuary is a passive recreational area spread over two separate properties – one near the Rio Hondo and another near the San Gabriel River – in Pico Rivera. City and county officials, as well as conservancy groups, have spent $5.1 million transforming the once-barren lands into the spreading grounds. Both properties now include thousands of native-California plants, shaded rest areas and six miles of trails. Local resident Miguel Bravo was among about 300 people who turned out for Saturday’s premiere. He was accompanied by his wife, Alicia, and two sons, Jason and Sean. “I do a lot of bike riding, and I thought this seems to be easier for the entire family,” said Bravo, 34. “It’s not too long and it’s pretty.” Alicia Bravo, also 34, said she’s not a biking enthusiast like her husband, but the spreading grounds suit her taste perfectly. PICO RIVERA – Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina said she’s making it a point to put open space – and a community’s natural resources – to good use. The plan, called “greening the river,” has Molina and county officials partnering with cities to transform waterways into recreational venues for the public. “I was one of those 10-year-olds that couldn’t get to the river and had to jump the fence,” the county supervisor said. “Now we’re finding ways to make use of the river besides what it already is. We’d like to bring \ back and restore them.” On Saturday, Molina visited Pico Rivera to debut the city’s newest “greening” project, the Paseo del Rio Spreading Grounds. “I love the open air,” she said. “I also saw two hummingbirds – and you never see hummingbirds. You don’t really get to see anything like this.” Pico Rivera outreach coordinator Raymond Chavez said visitors to the spreading grounds may also find Canada geese and other water fowl in the area. The grounds are “passive use” facilities designed for short visits that include nature-watching and exercising. Nine-year-old Alejandra Ibarra already plans on returning to the spreading grounds every weekend – if her parents let her – to get some laps in on her bike. “At my school, we have to do exercise,” said the South Ranchito Elementary School third-grader. “I want to come here because then I can \ faster, do more laps and get more exercise.” “It’s helping me be better,” she added. Chavez said the spreading grounds cater to visitors from throughout the Southland, not just Pico Rivera. “It’s also for people from Whittier, Santa Fe Springs and the other surrounding communities,” he said. “This is going to be a big asset to people all over the region.” The nature sanctuaries will also offer educational opportunities. Interpretive signs along the trails will provide details about the adjoining basins, which serve as water storage and recharge facilities, according to officials. “It’s also an educational piece to provide visitors with information on the water recycling process,” Molina said. Both the Rio Hondo and the San Gabriel spreading grounds will be open from dawn to dusk daily. Visitors can enter via four pedestrian access points: at Whittier and Washington boulevards, respectively; at Loch Lomond Drive and Paramount Boulevard; and at Mines Avenue and Paramount Boulevard. (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3024160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Arraignment delayed for DUI suspect

first_imgSerrato is accused of hitting Martin Granado Jr. of Whittier on July 25 as he walked home on Lambert Road, west of Mills Avenue in the unincorporated area of Whittier, according to CHP reports. If convicted, Serrato faces a minimum of four years or a maximum of 10 years in prison. Ramirez also continued the young woman’s bail of $100,000. Sitting in the back of the courtroom taking in the proceedings were more than a dozen of Granado family members and friends. Deputy District Attorney Robert Britton did not fight the defense’s continuation request. • Photo Gallery: Martin Granado funeralWHITTIER – The arraignment Thursday for a Pico Rivera woman charged with gross vehicular manslaughter in the death of a 15-year-old California High School student while intoxicated was continued to Oct. 4. The attorney for defendant Melissa Serrato, 27, asked Judge Daniel P. Ramirez of Whittier Superior Court, Division Three, for the continuance to give a defense expert time to go over the evidence. “We need a little time for our expert to go over the evidence collected because we believe it shows the charge against my client is wrong,” attorney Stephan A. DeSales, said outside the courtroom. “It’s not unusual for the defense to want a continuance to have their experts go over the evidence,” he said. By law, Britton said, his office cannot disclose details about the case until after the preliminary hearing. According to CHP records, Serrato was heading west on Lambert in a 2007 Toyota Matrix at about 40 mph when she hit Granado, who would have been a sophomore at Cal High this fall. He later died of his injuries at UC Irvine Medical Center. Serrato was administered a breath test at the scene but authorities have not released the results. For the Granado family, the younger Martin’s death was the second they endured in a week’s span. The elder Martin’s cousin, Ralph Granado, 55, of Covina was struck and killed by a hit-and-run driver July 20 on the San Bernardino (10) Freeway. He was rear-ended by a Toyota Yaris, and the impact knocked him off his motorcycle. As he tried to stand up, Ralph Granado was fatally struck by another vehicle that fled the scene. Authorities are still looking for the driver of the second vehicle. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible for the death of Ralph Granado. (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3028 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more

Divers killed within three weeks of each other off coast of Donegal, inquests hear

first_imgTwo divers were killed within just three weeks of each other during separate accidents off the coast of Co Donegal, inquests into their deaths have heard.Both deaths took place during the summer of 2017 and the victims were men from overseas who had been visiting Donegal to go diving, Donegal Coroner’s Court has heard. The first inquest was that of 57-year-old John Allwright of 23 Vicarage Close, Langford, Bedfordshire in England.The inquest, held at Letterkenny Courthouse, heard how John was part of a dive group of seven who had left Downings Bay for Duncap Isle.Mr Allwright had initially lost his diving mask while diving but had been given a replacement mask.However, while passing through an underground cavern, John was sucked into an underground cave where he struggled to get out of.Evidence was heard that he eventually got out of the cave and managed to get to the surface but was exhausted.Local diver, Declan Burke, who had accompanied the visiting divers, said he had dived in this area at least 50 times before and was not aware of the cave in which Mr Allwright got sucked into.The court heard that when Mr Allwright got lost in the underground ave, his fellow divers tried to rescue him with a rope and also a pole but the troubled diver managed to get himself out.He managed to get to the surface but was found on his back unconscious just a metre below the surface.His fellow divers took him onto the dive boat and performed CPR on him in a bid to revive him but failed to do so.Diving instructor David Gration, a diver with 28 years of experience, gave evidence that Mr Allwright’s diving equipment had all been in working order.He added that his equipment would have weighed between 40 and 50 kilogrammes and that trying to lift out of the water would have been exhausting.He added that it would have been a very frightening experience being caught in the cave but he had managed to get out by sheer strength or the help of mother nature through the swell of the water.A pathology report showed that Mr Allwright’s body had shown some small bruises to his forehead but that there was little sign of significant trauma.Coroner Dr Denis McCauley said that having heard all the evidence he considered the death was a genuine accident.He added that death was due to drowning and said death was as a result of an accident.The second inquest concerned the death of Randy McNalley, a Canadian man from Edmonton, Alberta.Mr McNalley, aged 63, was part of a group of divers who had been diving off the wreck of the World War II vessel the MV Pinto which is located 25 kms north of Fanad Head on August 14th, 2017.He had been part of a group which had been diving for two hours at depths of up to 63 metres before they decided to resurface.However, at 18 metres from the surface Mr McNalley, an experienced diver, lost contact with the group and did not resurface.Visibility was poor and despite an immediate search of the area, Mr McNalley was not located.It was revealed how a search team looking for the missing diver found his remains two days later on the afternoon of August 16th.Search recovery diver Colm Humphries told how he found Randy on the seabed and his mouthpiece was not in his mouth.Coroner Dr McCauley said it appeared that there had been a medical incident as data showed that Randy dropped to the seabed in a very quick manner.He asked diving expert David Gration what he thought could have happened to Randy.He replied that he had thought of this every day and the only thing he could think of was that something medical happened to the victim.He added “We’re in an alien environment – it only takes something minor for it to become a huge problem.”Coroner Dr McCauley said Randy was a fit and healthy triathlete but that something happened which made him become unconscious very quickly.He suggested that it was an acute medical incident which rendered him unconscious and led to his death.He said that death was caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain and that his death was as a result of an accident.Divers killed within three weeks of each other off coast of Donegal, inquests hear was last modified: February 13th, 2019 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:Diversdonegalinquestslast_img read more

Women’s Basketball Drops Road Contest At UNI, 85-74

first_imgBox Score CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – Five players scored in double figures, led by junior Caitlin Ingle’s (Runnells, Iowa) season-high 19 points, for the Drake University women’s basketball team in an 85-74 road defeat to the UNI Panthers on Friday night at the McLeod Center. Joining Ingle in double digits for Drake (17-8, 10-4 MVC) was freshman Sara Rhine (Eldon, Mo.) who notched her fourth career double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. Junior Lizzy Wendell (Blue Springs, Mo.), sophomore Maddy Dean (Jordan, Minn.) and senior Emma Donahue (Naperville, Ill.) scored 14,11 and 10 points, respectively. UNI (16-9, 11-3 MVC) was paced by junior Madison Weekly’s game-high 22 points while Stephanie Davison added 19 points and Amber Sorenson had 14 points. Jen Keitel chipped in 12 points for the Panthers who assumed sole possession of first place with the in-state win. In the opening quarter, Drake battled cold shooting and turnovers as UNI led 18-7 after one quarter of play. Ingle and Wendell both picked up two early fouls and had to go to the bench with just over two minutes left. The Panthers extended their lead to 42-24 at halftime as they outscored the Bulldogs, 24-17, in the period. Drake shot the basketball better out of the halftime break making five of six from the floor, but UNI answered nearly every basket. Donahue knocked down a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 11 points, but Weekly answered with her own as the Bulldogs could only get as close as 11 points three more times in the game. The Bulldogs improved their shooting in the final two quarters finishing the game at 42 percent. Drake was good at the free throw line making 21-of-27 paced by Ingle who made a career-high eight points. Drake controlled the paint with a 38-24 advantage and a 40-29 margin on the glass. Drake returns to the Knapp Center for its final regular season home games as the Bulldogs first host Loyola on Feb. 26. The game with the Ramblers will be the annual “Hoops 4 Hope” game with tipoff set for 7 p.m. on ESPN3. Drake welcomes Bradley on Feb. 28 for a 2 p.m. matinee with a senior day ceremony for Donahue set to take place after the game.Print Friendly Versionlast_img read more


first_imgA survey has found that people in Donegal are paying the most for their bin collections.The average price of bin charges here is €346, according tot he Irish Independent.Th cheapest place to have you bins collect is in Galway which has an average collection price of €204 pr year.Details of the survey come as the Government plans to charge people by the weight of their household waste which could increase bin costs by €100 a year.DONEGAL HOUSEHOLDERS ARE PAYING THE MOST TO HAVE BINS COLLECTED was last modified: July 11th, 2015 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:binscollectiondonegallast_img read more

Full text: South Africa’s 2017 budget speech

first_imgSouth Africa’s finance minister, Pravin Gordhan, presented what many believe to be a tough budget. At the same time he calls on all South Africans to make the right choices that will lead us to a just and fair society.Finance minister Pravin Gordhan presented a tough budget this year. (Image: Flickr, World Economic Forum)For more on the budget, check out:VIDEO: Budget 2017- word on the streetWATCH: South Africa’s 2017 budget speechSend your Budget 2017 tips to GordhanHonourable SpeakerMister PresidentMister Deputy PresidentCabinet Colleagues and Deputy MinistersGovernor of the Reserve BankMECs of FinanceFellow South AfricansSanibonaniMolweniGoeie middagThobelaI have the privilege to present our Government’s budget for the fiscal year 2017/18, and the framework for the next three years.I am mindful, in the context of our own transformation challenges and the stresses in the global environment, of Oliver Tambo’s unwavering vision:“We seek to create a united, democratic and non-racial society. We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity…[We seek to] remake our part of the world into a corner of the globe of which all of humanity can be proud.”In the words of the Freedom Charter, “South Africa belongs to all who live in it.” In drafting our Constitution, this was a central foundational principle, and so the values of freedom, dignity and equality are embedded in our law and our polity.This is also why our Constitution requires that all who live in our country should have access to housing, medical care, social security, water and education, There should be a progressiverealisation of access to tertiary education and other elements in a comprehensive set of social entitlements. Wealth and economic opportunities must be equitably shared.These commitments impose obligations on government – and have implications for the business sector and all stakeholders. We have a shared responsibility to address the social and economic challenges before us.These South African realities are known to all of us.Income growth has been uneven – the bottom 20 per cent have benefited from social grants and better access to services, the top 20 per cent have benefited from the rising demand for skills and pay increases. Those in the middle have been left behind.Wealth remains highly concentrated – 95 per cent of wealth is in the hands of 10 per cent of the population.35 per cent of the labour force are unemployed or have given up hope of finding work.Despite our progress in education, over half of all children in Grade 5 cannot yet read adequately in any language.More than half of all school-leavers each year enter the labour market without a senior certificate pass. 75 per cent of these will still be unemployed five years later.Our towns and cities remain divided and poverty is concentrated in townships and rural areas.Our growth has been too slow – just 1 per cent a year in real per capita terms over the past 25 years, well below that of countries such as Brazil, Turkey, Indonesia, India or China.These are our realities. They mirror the stresses of poverty and vulnerability in many developing countries, and the inequality between rich and poor throughout the world.Even in the developed world, there are serious faultlines and uncertainty:Citizens lack of trust in elitesGrowing inequalityGlobalisation benefitting a fewStagnant and falling incomes of the middle class.These, among other factors, are also driving a case for radical transformation of economic models, and a call for inclusive growth.President Zuma has rightly emphasised that the requirements for transformation and change in South Africa are wide-ranging. Laws and regulations, policies and their implementation, initiatives of national, provincial and local government, our black economic empowerment charters and the engagement of business, organised labour and civil society partners are all critical levers of change. So is our budget.This is not a transformation to be achieved through conquest, conflict or extortion, as in our past. We do not seek to reproduce the racial domination that was the hallmark of apartheid nationalism. Our transformation will be built through economic participation, partnerships and mobilisation of all our capacities. It is a transformation that must unite, not divide South Africans. This is the task entrusted to us by Oliver Tambo, Helen Josephs, Walter Sisulu and Rolihlahla Mandela.We find ourselves at a conjuncture which requires the wisdom of our elders to help us make the right choices and keep the trust of our citizens.Summary of the 2017 BudgetMadam Speaker, today’s Budget message is that we are once again at a crossroads. Tough choices have to be made to achieve the development outcomes we seek:Economic growth is slow, unemployment is far too high and many businesses and families are under stress.We face an uncertain and complex global environment.At the same time we face immense transformation challenges – we must overcome the inequalities and divisions of our society. All South Africans must share in a more prosperous future.We have a plan for a more inclusive, shared economy. Its implementation requires greater urgency and effective collaboration among all social stakeholders.Change is difficult, and often contested. In these tough times we draw strength from the resilience and the diverse capabilities of our people, our business sector, our unions and our social formations.The key features of the framework for the 2017 Budget include the following:Expenditure is within the envelope projected in last year’s budget.An additional R28 billion will be raised in taxes.The budget deficit for 2017/18 will be 3.1 per cent of GDP, in line with our fiscal consolidation commitment.Government debt will stabilise at about 48 per cent of GDP over the next three years.Redistribution in support of education, health services and municipal functions in rural areas remains the central thrust of our spending programmes.Government’s wage bill has stabilised. Procurement reforms continue to improve the effectiveness of public spending and opening opportunities for small business participation.Our state-owned companies and finance institutions play a substantial role in infrastructure investment and financing development. Their borrowing requirements are taken into account in the overall fiscal framework.As in past years, Honourable Members, the Budget Review and the Estimates of National Expenditure provide extensive details of developments in the economy, our fiscal and budget plans and the programmes and activities of government departments and public entities.But there is a larger purpose, a moral vision and intent behind these plans and programmes. We need to build a new national consensus and a new commitment to deliver, focused on the triple challenges of poverty, unemployment and inequality. President Zuma articulated this intent in the State of the Nation Address, rightly emphasising the radical nature of the socio- economic transformation we need.Our growth challenge is intertwined with our transformation imperative. We need to transform in order to grow, we need to grow in order to transform. Without transformation, growth will reinforce inequality; without growth, transformation will be distorted by patronage.Global economic outlookMadam Speaker, allow me to comment briefly on the international outlook.After several years of tentative economic growth, there are signs that a more sustainable recovery might be under way.Growth in the United States and Europe is steady, although at low levels.India and China remain comparatively buoyant, and economies such as Russia and Brazil are set to recover from recessions.The International Monetary Fund projects that the world economy will grow by 3.4 per cent in 2017 and 3.6 per cent in 2018.Many countries face the challenge of ensuring that as growth picks up, its benefits accrue to all in society. The 2008 financial crisis and its aftermath exposed deep fault-lines in the world economy and in the distribution of income. Economic recovery has been slow. In several countries affected by unrest or war, there has been great hardship and dislocation of people. The impact of trends in trade, technology and commodity markets has been uneven. These forces have heightened social and political pressures for change. Global strains manifest in various ways, including the rise of strident economic nationalism and protectionist policies.Government and business leaders throughout the world have had to reflect on the deficit of trust and loss of social solidarity in their societies. Policies and programmes that strengthen economic inclusion are being prioritised everywhere. In the words of Pope Francis, “Reforming the social structures which perpetuate poverty and the exclusion of the poor first requires a conversion of mind and heart”.We therefore welcome Germany’s commitment to highlighting Africa and its infrastructure financing requirements as a priority of its term in chairing the G20 countries.We operate within a connected global economic system. South Africa’s economic performance is affected by global economic trends. We rely on global cooperation to address trade imbalances, the abuse of tax havens and the coordination of financial stabilisation efforts.South Africa, and the entire African continent, stand to gain from expanding global trade within what Minister Davies has described as a “more inclusive progressive multilateralism, characterised by real cooperation and solidarity,… sensitive to the needs of the poorest.”South Africa’s growth and transformationModerate GDP growth recoveryOur expectation at this stage is that GDP growth will increase from 0.5 per cent last year to 1.3 per cent in 2017, and will continue to improve moderately over the medium term.The services sector was the main contributor to growth in 2016, bringing nearly 120 000 new work opportunities.Mining continued to underperform while manufacturing output was supported by buoyant sales in petrochemicals, food and beverages and motor vehicles. Mining and manufacturing employment declined by 80 000 jobs in 2016.Weak business confidence and low levels of profitability weighed on investment across all sectors.Though the policy interest rate has increased by 2 percentage points since 2014, inflation ended the year above the target, with food prices continuing to reflect the impact on agriculture of poor rainfall.Lower growth in our trading partners in Africa and elsewhere has contributed to sluggish export earnings.We expect somewhat higher growth in the coming year on the strength of a number of favourable trends:Commodity prices have reboundedThe exchange rate has recovered from its rapid depreciation last year, which bodes well for capital flows, inflation and business and consumer confidenceDrought conditions have abated in most of the countryProduction stoppages associated with industrial disputes have been comparatively lowElectricity supply has improved, allowing new connections and industrial demand to be accommodated.But the projected rate of growth is not sufficient to reduce unemployment or impact significantly on poverty and inequality. It falls well short of our NDP goals.Madam Speaker, we know what to do to get ourselves out of the present low growth trap. “Ditau ge di shumishana di ka bolaya nare.” (If lions work as a team they will bring down even a buffalo.)In order to boost investment in the short term, there are several specific imperatives:Finalising legislation relating to mining development and land redistribution.Implementing the transition from analogue to digital television, which will release spectrum for broadband services.Continuing our independent power producer programme, both in renewables and to take advantage of gas investment opportunities.Further strengthening of economic regulatory functions and streamlining investment approval processes.Production-friendly industrial relations and prompt resolution of disputes.An enabling environment for small enterprises and support through leveraging both public and private sector procurement budgets.Focused support on labour-intensive sectors, including agriculture, agro-processing and tourism-related services.Strengthening regional ties and trade links.Safeguarding South Africa’s investment-grade credit rating.The 2017 budget allocates funds over the MTEF period to support economic growth in various programmes:R3.9 billion for small, medium and micro enterprises and cooperatives.R4.2 billion for industrial infrastructure in special economic zones and industrial parks.R1.9 billion for broadband implementation.R3.9 billion for the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research.An additional R494 million for tourism promotion.An additional R266m to support the aquaculture sector and realise the goals of the Oceans Economy Phakisa Operation.Spending on agriculture, rural development and land reform amounting to nearly R30 billion by 2019/20.Effective implementation of these and other programmes and initiatives will set us on a higher growth trajectory than currently projected. Progress in engagements between government, the business sector and social stakeholders is imperative.Transformation for growthTo achieve sustained higher growth, there are also more fundamental, more radical transformation measures that are needed.These relate, in particular, to economic power.The relationships between labour and capital, rich and poor, black and white, men and women, town and township, urban and rural, still reflect the entrenched legacy of colonialism and apartheid. Wealth is produced and allocated along lines that remain fundamentally unjust. The ownership of assets and the distribution of income is captured by a minority of the population – a situation that is morally wrong and economically unsustainable.We agree with President Zuma that a new perspective on economic transformation is required. The principles that should guide our agenda for transformation include the following:The litmus test of our programmes must be what they do to create jobs, eliminate poverty and narrow the inequality gap.Transformation must be mass-based, benefiting the most disadvantaged South Africans through the creation of new assets, capabilities and opportunities to build livelihoods.We have to mobilise both private and public investment in social and economic infrastructure, new technologies and new activities that help build a modern and diversified economy.We must continue to confront cartels and collusion robustly and provide new opportunities for access to markets.Transformation must re-shape our cities and build linkages across the rural and urban landscapes, where fragmentation and separation characterised past patterns.Transformation must achieve a more balanced structure of ownership and control in our economy.Transformation should build on and strengthen democracy, and entrench open, transparent governance and the rule of law.Transformation must build self-reliance of South Africans, reject the dependence on debt and protect our fiscal sovereignty.Transformation must result in an economy that belongs to all, black and white, where the legacy of race domination is no longer visible.In 1969 the ANC resolved that “Our nationalism must not be confused with chauvinism or narrow nationalism of a previous epoch. It must not be confused with the classical drive by an elitist group among the oppressed people to gain ascendancy so that they can replace the oppressor in the exploitation of the masses.”Transformation must unleash growth, establish a new economic direction, mobilise investment, empower the masses and create new resources for social change.We still have a long way to go!Fiscal policy and the budget frameworkMadam Speaker, the 2017 Budget reflects a balance between maintaining our spending commitments, and ensuring long-term health of the public finances. Slow economic growth has held us back and so decisive steps are needed to strengthen confidence, investment and growth.Acting too quickly to reduce the deficit would harm service delivery, delay economic recovery, and compromise tax revenue collection. But to ignore our fiscal targets would result in interest rate hikes, unsustainable commitments and credit rating downgrades. This is a scenario in which short-term gains would quickly give way to financial stress, capital flight and cutbacks in service delivery.To ensure a balanced and sustainable recovery, we indicated in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement that we would raise an additional R28 billion in tax revenues. We also need to reduce spending by a total of R26 billion over the next two years.The proposed expenditure for 2017/18 totals R1.56 trillion.Interest on debt amounts to R169 billion.Projected revenues amount to R1.41 trillion.The balance of R149 billion, or 3.1 per cent of GDP, will be borrowed.Government debt now stands at R2.2 trillion, or 50.7 per cent of GDP. Interest payments are a rising share of expenditure. By acting now to stabilise debt, we will ensure that future generations will not pay for today’s expenses, 20 or 30 years from now.Over the medium term, expenditure on public services will continue to grow moderately above inflation. Though the fiscal envelope is constrained, billions of rands have been shifted to meet new needs. A substantial additional allocation to higher education is again proposed, adding R5 billion to the R32 billion previously announced. After debt service and post-school education and training, the fastest-growing spending categories are health, social development, and community and economic infrastructure.We will continue to safeguard expenditure that protects poor households. But the medium term expenditure limits are tight. Across all three spheres of government, and in state-owned companies and public entities, those responsible for deciding how money is spent have to do so with scrupulous rigour and care. It is only right that if households and firms face tough choices in balancing their income and expenses, the same disciplines must be applied in public expenditure.Citizens demand accountability to ensure public funds are used for their intended purposes. In Mahatma Gandhi’s phrase: “Democracy is not a state in which people act like sheep.”South Africans are not like sheep, Honourable Speaker, and so I have received a great variety of “tips” from members of the public.Ms Mmanyane Phori wrote: “I still wonder why we do not have TAX as a subject in school. Perhaps the government should educate people from a young age about tax, so that they will have an understanding that there is no government without taxpayers…” Quite right, Ms Phori!Tax proposalsFor many years we have enjoyed the benefit of tax revenue collections outstripping economic growth. This contributed to our capacity to expand public service delivery. This year, revenue has lagged behind the economy, leading to a R30 billion shortfall by comparison with the budget estimate a year ago. The revenue shortfall is mainly in personal income tax, value- added tax and customs duties. This reflects slower growth in wages, employment and bonus pay-outs last year, amongst other factors.Our current expectation is that total tax revenue for 2016/17 will be R1.144 trillion, which is an increase of 7 per cent on the previous year.The tax proposals this year will raise an additional R28 billion, by comparison with revenue estimates based on full adjustment of personal income tax and excise duties for inflation.The main tax proposals are:A new top personal income tax rate of 45 per cent for those with taxable incomes above R1.5 million.An increase in the dividend withholding tax rate from 15 per cent to 20 per cent.Limited bracket creep relief, increasing the tax free threshold from R75 000 to R75 750.An increase of 30c/litre in the general fuel levy and 9c/litre in the road accident fund levy.Increases in the excise duties for alcohol and tobacco, of between 6 per cent and 10 per cent.Relief will be provided in the affordable housing market through an increase in the threshold above which transfer duty is paid from R750 000 to R900 000. The annual allowance for tax free savings accounts will be increased to R33 000. The medical tax credit will be increased in line with inflation this year. It should be noted though that consideration is being given to possible reductions in this subsidy in future, as part of the financing framework for National Health Insurance.Further consultations are currently taking place on the tax on sugary beverages. Arising from these discussions, and working closely with the Department of Health, the proposed design has been revised to include both intrinsic and added sugars. The tax will be implemented later this year once details are finalised and the legislation is passed.The proposed carbon tax and its date of implementation will be considered further in Parliament this year.Combating tax avoidanceMultinational corporations continue to use inconsistencies in global tax rules to their advantage and to avoid tax liabilities. South Africa intends to sign a multilateral instrument this year which will assist in the updating of treaties and will reduce the scope for aggressive tax avoidance activities.Applications to the Special Voluntary Disclosure Programme have begun. SARS has already received disclosures of R3.8 billion in foreign assets, which will yield revenue of about R600 million. The programme will be open until the end of August this year.The automatic exchange of information between tax authorities will come into operation in September this year. Multinational companies will be required to file further information with SARS on cross-border activities from the end of the year. We will continue to work actively with the international tax community and within government to modernise customs administration and combat cross-border revenue leakages, money laundering and harmful tax practices.Tax administrationAn efficient and trusted tax administration is one of South Africa’s institutional strengths. SARS has played an integral role in building the democratic state by ensuring that expected levels of revenue are available to fund spending programmes. SARS must continue to develop the skills and capacity needed to enforce legislation and strengthen its efforts to curb tax avoidance and evasion, and address transfer pricing – a component of illicit financial flows.Madam Speaker, I requested the Davis Tax Committee last year to advise on an appropriate governance and accountability model for SARS. This was last done by the Katz Commission in 1994. In the context of the envisaged Border Management Agency, customs and excise administration has come under review. These are integral functions of our revenue system and the Davis Committee has advised that it would be imprudent to fragment customs administration and customs collection. I agree with this, particularly in the light of SARS’s ongoing customs modernisation programme which is critical to both our revenue and trade policy imperatives. Let me express my appreciation to the Deputy President and Minister Gigaba for the ongoing engagement on this matter.Continued strengthening of the capacity of SARS and enhancing its relationships with taxpayers is vital for our fiscal health. We will continue to call on Judge Davis and the Tax Committee for advice on how best to ensure that SARS remains a robust and effective tax collection agency.The Division of Revenue and intergovernmental financesHonourable Members, our Constitution requires an equitable division of revenue between the spheres of government, and sets out the criteria that govern this division.The funds available after providing for debt service costs and a contingency reserve increase by 6.9 per cent to R1.24 trillion next year, and are projected to rise to R1.43 trillion in 2019/20.Over the next three years:47.5 per cent of available funds are allocated to national government,43.4 per cent to provinces and9.1 per cent to local government.The division of revenue involves a substantial redistribution of resources from the wealthiest areas in our country – where most of our taxes are raised – to lower-income communities and households. The allocations to predominantly rural municipalities are twice as large, per household, than those to metropolitan councils.This redistribution of resources is an enabling foundation for a broader transformation of services and opportunities in our cities, towns and rural areas. Development also requires effective management of public services and promotion of enterprises and income-generating activities.Provincial financial managementIn the context of our constrained fiscal environment, provinces have already made progress in reducing spending on non-core goods and services and in controlling personnel costs. Spending on non-essential goods and services fell in real terms by 7.1 per cent in 2014/15, 6.1 per cent in 2015/16 and is anticipated to decline by 4.5 per cent annually over the medium term. The proportion of provincial spending on personnel has declined to just under 60 per cent in 2016/17, freeing up more resources to invest in services.Provinces have also put their public entities under review, to eliminate duplication of activities and ensure effective governance and clear development mandates.Three new conditional grants will take effect in 2017/18. They will expand access to early childhood development and improve facilities, provide for increased employment of social workers and improve opportunities for learners with profound disabilities.The Auditor-General has called for stronger leadership within provinces to remedy financial management challenges. Better cash management is needed to ensure suppliers are paid on time. Improved oversight is needed to curb unauthorised expenditure. There must be adherence to procurement rules to limit irregular expenditure.Strengthening financial management in municipalitiesGovernment continues to invest in improving the financial capability of municipalities. In the period ahead, National Treasury and provincial treasuries have agreed to focus their efforts on four “game changers”:The new Municipal Standard Chart of Accounts, which will be implemented from 1 July 2017, contributing to greater transparency and consistency of municipal finances.Targeted supply chain management interventions to achieve cost savings and combat fraud.Enhanced revenue management, including appropriate tariff-setting, regular billing and effective collection systems.Improved asset management, including adherence to 8 per cent of the value of assets being spent on their maintenance.If we make progress in local financial management, we will transform the lives of millions of people.The Budget and transformationMadam Speaker, the budget gives effect to our transformation action agenda by financing government programmes which:Ensure that many more people live in dignity every year,Radically improve access to services and economic participation across all racial lines,Energise growth and create jobs,Increase investment and development – at national, provincial and local level –mobilising resources across government, business and other sectors.A growing economy makes more rapid transformation possible, but it is the fiscal system that is the most direct vehicle for redistribution and inclusivity. The South African budget finances the construction of houses and schools, the education of young people, care for the elderly and incomes of the most vulnerable. About two-thirds of the Budget is dedicated to realising social rights. We have programmes that build infrastructure, support new businesses, empower small farmers, develop human capabilities and incentivise job creation.The budget is highly redistributive to poor and working families. It also redistributes substantial resources from the urban economy to fund services in rural areas. The formulas used to distribute resources to provinces and municipalities are governed by transparent rules in which equity and needs are the primary consideration.But budgets alone cannot achieve our transformation goals. We need a powerful combination of:Effective and targeted government delivery of economic programmes,An energetic coalition with labour, business and civil society,A consensus on a transformation programme – with each of us clear about the contribution and sacrifices we have to make to ensure optimal inclusivity,A commitment to eradicate gross inequality and share the benefits of growth and restructuring of the economy.Government can be an important catalyst. But it cannot carry all of the responsibility for ensuring that every citizen experiences a palpable change in wealth, dignity and well-being.This has to be our collective choice.Towards a transformation action agendaTransformation is in part about overcoming the legacy of exclusion and inequality of the past, but it is also about restructuring the economy to take advantage of new technology, market access and investment opportunities.It is about investing in social capabilities, through better outcomes in health and education and skills development, and through inclusive and responsive institutions.Let me say clearly and emphatically: sound public finances, the health of our financial institutions, investment-grade credit ratings and our competitive public procurement processes are valued elements in the sustainability and integrity of our transformation path. So also are the clarity of vision and the details of sectoral priorities and programmes set out in the National Development Plan.Radical transformation and inclusive growth touch many aspects of social organisation and economic activity. Renewal and wider participation have to be opened up across as broad a range of industries and social formations as possible. The portfolios of every Member of the Cabinet, every provincial MEC and every member of mayoral committee are involved, while responsibilities arise in every business, every NGO, every association.And we need to see progress, rapidly. There is growing impatience and ferment among our people. Can we channel this energy into constructive activism and productive collaboration?Allow me to emphasise five critical priorities in which government is committed to work with the private sector and social stakeholders to propel inclusive growth.Improved education is a central priority, and particularly the quality of basic literacy and numeracy achieved in the first phase of schooling. We must increase funding for proven interventions.Reform of technical and vocational education and training programmes is vital, so that they effectively meet occupational and industrial needs. We must strengthen collaboration between employers and TVET colleges.We must accelerate development of our cities, housing investment, improved public transport and urban enterprise and industrial development.South Africa’s integration and linkages with its regional neighbours offers significant opportunities for enterprise growth, agricultural development and new industrialists.Reform of domestic market structures, promotion of competition, deconcentration of monopolised industries and greater private-sector participation in sectors dominated by public enterprises: these are structural reforms that will bring opportunities for business development, modernisation and a more balanced distribution of wealth and opportunities.In regard to market concentration, Honourable Members, I need to commend the work of our competition authorities under Minister Patel’s leadership. These are difficult regulatory issues, particularly where the activities in question involve large institutions operating in internationally integrated and complex markets.In the year ahead the Department of Economic Development will finalise establishment of the Tirisano Fund, to be financed from the construction sector settlement. It will boost much- needed skills among black South Africans and support emerging enterprises. An initial amount of R117 million is earmarked for the Adjustments Appropriation this year.If we transform competitive markets effectively, we will see more rapid growth. If we achieve faster growth, we will see greater transformation, enterprise development and participation.Economic infrastructure and investmentMadam Speaker, the reform of state-owned companies is an especially important part of the restructuring and strengthening of our economy.State-owned companies are governed by a strong legal framework, and Cabinet has endorsed a series of measures to reinforce governance and accountability and clarify their development mandates. This imposes substantial obligations and responsibilities on boards and senior managers. We expect the highest standards of ethical leadership and understanding.With a combined asset base of R1.2 trillion, the SOCs are well-placed to partner with private sector investors in growing the productive capacity and infrastructure of our economy. But they must be financially strong, governance must be sound, and boards and executives must have the necessary competencies to run complex business enterprises.Eskom and Transnet have especially large responsibilities as dominant suppliers in major network industries. Their investment programmes are important foundations for more rapid economic growth.The South African Post Office is consolidating its mail services and expanding the role of the Postbank.PRASA is in the third year of its rolling stock fleet renewal programme.The Industrial Development Corporation, the Land Bank and the Development Bank of Southern Africa are financially sound and are steadily expanding their financing of industry, agriculture and municipal infrastructure.Last week I met members of the board of South African Airways to discuss its turnaround plans. I am pleased to report that the challenges are well understood, and the advisory work that is in progress has clarified the way forward.We have also held constructive discussions with the new leadership of the Post Office.During the next few months, proposals for putting the capital structure of SAA and the Post Office on a sound footing will need to be agreed. I hope that this can be dealt with in the Adjustments Budget later this year.Honourable Members, the budget continues to prioritise both national and provincial economic infrastructure requirements.The Provincial Roads Maintenance Grant is allocated R10.8 billion in 2017/18, taking into account the increase in road traffic volumes.SANRAL receives R15.4 billion over the period ahead for strengthening and maintenance of the national road network, which now stands at 21 946 kilometres.The Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services receives R1.9 billion over the medium term to invest in high-speed internet connections in public buildings and schools in eight NHI pilot districts.The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa continues to implement its modernisation and rolling stock renewal programme. Over the medium term, R16.7 billion is allocated for 70 new train-sets for Metrorail.The development and operation of integrated public transport networks, funded through the Public Transport Network Grant receives R6.2 billion in 2017/18.To support higher density housing, subsidies for social housing have been rationalised and R600 million over the medium term is reprioritised to the Social Housing Regulatory Authority for investment in rental housing units.City development, human settlements and municipal infrastructureMadam Speaker, sustainable communities require strengthened intergovernmental cooperation between national government, provinces and municipalities. Improved alignment in the delivery of services such as housing, water, sanitation, electrification and public transport is central to achieving the objectives set out in the Integrated Urban Development Framework.R18.4 billion over the medium term is allocated to the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and R12.5 billion to the Water Services Infrastructure Grant. These allocations continue to prioritise water provision in the 27 most impoverished district municipalities.R1 billion is added to the local government equitable share in 2018/19, in view of rising household numbers and infrastructure maintenance requirements.Last year I reported on the progress being made by our metropolitan municipalities in reversing the spatial legacy of apartheid, through targeted investment in high density corridors linking townships back into our cities. This spatial transformation is a massive challenge involving land acquisition and development, infrastructure and transport services, housing and industrial and enterprise support. Much of this depends on collaboration between government and the private sector.We will continue to work with our cities to improve the safety and reliability of public transport services. Commuter rail currently provides for over 20 percent of all passengers carried in the cities. This budget provides resources to subsidize 457 million rail passenger trips next year, as well as ongoing support to upgrade rolling stock and improve signalling systems.All our metropolitan municipalities are undertaking a portfolio of catalytic, integrated urban development projects that will lead the way in reshaping our cities:In eThekwini, the Cornubia mixed development node will yield 25 000 housing units, while over R13 billion in private sector investment in the nearby Dube Trade Port has been identified. A R30 billion inner city regeneration programme is under way.In Ekurhuleni, development along the corridor linking Tembisa to Kempton Park has been prioritised.Cape Town has adopted a transit-oriented development strategy including mixed-use development of the Bellville Transport Interchange, upgrade of the Phillipi East Station Precinct and the redevelopment of the Athlone Power Station.In Mangaung, the airport development node is under construction and 8 500 affordable housing units will be built in and around the inner city of Bloemfontein.In Johannesburg, there is further progress with the “corridors of freedom” linking Soweto, Alexandra, Sandton and the CBD. This includes the new bridges that can be seen along the M1.We have also seen substantial investment in township precincts in response to the neighbourhood development partnership grant. 190 projects have been completed and a further 55 are in construction.In the Joubertina/Alabama Hub in Matlosana, for example, an NDP investment in transport and health facilities has been accompanied by commercial investment commitments of about R155 million.In the Solomon Mahlangu node in Tshwane, which serves over 500 000 people, a R1 billion public investment in roads, parks and trading facilities is expected to leverage R4 billion in private investment.Encouraging investment in cities and townships requires initiatives of many arms of government. Minister Sisulu will shortly release a White Paper on the reforms necessary to build more inclusive residential property markets, and accelerate the upgrading of informal settlements. The National Treasury is working with municipalities on measures to reduce the cost of dealing with construction permits, obtaining electricity connections and registering property. The Department of Trade and Industry is leading a similar initiative with other departments and agencies to make it easier to start a business, pay taxes, get credit, trade across borders, enforce contracts, and resolve insolvencies.Local initiatives are often the key to progress in tourism and the hospitality industry. Ms Lisa Sheard captured this well in her budget “tip”: “Tourism encourages ‘pride of place’. Pride of place ensures that the water will run, the streets will be clean, signage will be clear…” Ms Sheard also wrote that “Tourism is ‘woman full’. Women excel and dominate… Tourism instils a good and honest work ethic – it will not make you rich and famous quickly, but it can be very rewarding.”With transformation, we will see growth. Growth will strengthen the forces of transformation.Health servicesMadam Speaker, the Government is moving towards the next phase of the implementation of National Health Insurance. We are committed to achieving universal health coverage, in line with the vision of the National Development Plan. Eleven NHI pilots have yielded valuable insights, on which we are now able to build. These include:The design of contracts with general practitioners,More effective chronic medicine dispensing,Strengthening district health services through clinical specialist teams, ward-based outreach teams and school health services, andSupportive information systems.In the next phase of NHI implementation, an NHI Fund will be established. Its initial focus will be:To improve access to a common set of maternal health and ante-natal services and family planning services,To expand the integrated school health programmes, including provision of spectacles and hearing aids, andTo improve services for people with disabilities, the elderly and mentally ill patients, including provision of wheelchairs and other assistive devices.The service package financed by the NHI Fund will be progressively expanded. In setting up the Fund, we will look at various funding options, including possible adjustments to the tax credit on medical scheme contributions. Further details will be provided in the Adjustments Budget in October this year, and in the course of the legislative process.Taking into account the 160 submissions received from the public, the National Treasury and the Department of Health are working together to revise and finalise the NHI White Paper and the longer-term financing arrangements. There will be consultations with stakeholders over the period ahead on reform of the medical scheme environment, including consolidation of public sector funds.Over the next few months, I will be working with Minister Motsoaledi, Minister Nzimande and Minister Patel on planning the Limpopo Central Hospital and the new medical school of the University of Limpopo.Government is committed to increasing investment towards health promotion targeting non- communicable diseases alongside the implementation of the sugary drinks tax, such as diabetes screening and nutrition education.An additional R885 million has been added to support the implementation of the universal test-and-treat policy for HIV and R600 million for the commissioning of the new Nelson Mandela Children’s Hospital.EducationHonourable Members, the quality of our schools and further education institutions is at the heart of our commitment to our children’s future.Improvements have to begin in the foundation phase of the education “value-chain”. We will continue to increase resources for early childhood development, improve our basic education outcomes and step up our support to TVET colleges and universities.Spending on basic education next year will be over R240 billion, or 17.5 per cent of the consolidated budget. Allocations for school building increase at 12.5 per cent a year. Spending on learning and teaching support materials increases by 9.5 per cent over the next three years.Financial assistance to students in higher education and collegesGovernment recognises the needs articulated by students in universities and TVET colleges.As the economy grows, we will be able to do more to finance an expansion in tertiary education opportunities and improvements in student funding.Madam Speaker, in addition to the increases of R32 billion we made in the higher education allocations in last year’s Budget and the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, we have added a further R5 billion in the outer year of the MTEF. Government has provided funds to ensure that no student whose combined family income is below R600 000 per annum will face fee increases at universities and TVET colleges for 2017. All poor students who applied and qualified for NSFAS awards, and who have been accepted by a university or a TVET college, will be supported.The Heher Commission of Inquiry into Higher Education and Training will complete its work by June this year. The Inter-Ministerial Committee on Higher Education led by Minister Radebe is engaging all stakeholders to discuss the issues. Civil society initiatives involving business, churches and other organisations have created space for a diversity of options to be considered. The President has invited stakeholders to participate in processes that are underway so that all views are heard.Given the magnitude of student funding requirements, it is imperative that we develop a clear roadmap towards a better higher education and training system. It must clearly indicate how society will achieve access, opportunity, financing and support for students in the university and further education sectors.Several broad principles will assist in finding the way forward:Government is determined to address the challenges identified in post-school education and training in a phased manner. Resources will be taken into account in determining the pace with which these can be addressed.Government stands ready to engage with education stakeholders and adapt financing arrangements as may be required in future years, within the scope of available resources.Universities, students and education stakeholders share responsibility for improving access and quality and the diversity of higher education and training provided, within a framework of consultation rather than confrontation.A growing contribution is needed from employers and industry through funding of bursaries, internship opportunities and research programmes, recognising that this is the foundation of future productivity and technology advancesTogether, we will find a way forward that meets student funding needs fairly and sustainably, so that rising numbers of graduates can contribute positively to inclusive growth and transformation of the economy.Social assistanceHonourable Members, social assistance grants provide income support to the most vulnerable in our society. These will be increased in April to compensate for consumer price inflation.The old age grant will increase by R90 to R1600 for pensioners over the age of 60, and R1620 for those over 75.The disability and care dependency grants also increase by R90 to R1600 a month.Foster care grants increase by R30 to R920 a month.The child support grant increases by R20 to R380 a month.The Department of Women that is coordinating government’s support for the provision of sanitary pads to indigent women, including learners and students. The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Education is piloting the rollout of sanitary pads at schools, and I hope we will see complementary initiatives in other provinces.Public procurementHonourable members, public procurement will amount to about R1.5 trillion over the next three years.Let me say that a little differently. We will pay about R500 billion a year for the delivery of goods and services. Not transfers, or hand-outs, or cash distributions. The purpose is to acquire the infrastructure and operational inputs required for effective service delivery.Public procurement is also an important strategic vehicle for developing local industries, broadening economic participation and creating work opportunities.Last month we gazetted new preferential procurement regulations to achieve the following:Where large firms are awarded tenders of R30 million or more, 30 per cent of the contract value must go to small or black-owned enterprises, where feasible.Procurement authorities are now empowered to set clear targets to promote black- owned and women-owned businesses, participation of youth and disabled persons and opportunities for rural enterprises and co-operatives.South African suppliers will enjoy preference in respect of goods with significant local content, thus supporting job creation.Madam Speaker, there will be further procurement reforms this year. A draft Public Procurement Bill will be published shortly. It will establish a single procurement authority and will consolidate the currently fragmented regulatory environment, in keeping with section 217 of the Constitution.The central supplier database is now fully operational. It has made doing business with the state much easier and cost effective. It enables government to know who it is doing business with and to use technology to reduce opportunities for fraud and corruption. Already, large numbers of transactions have been identified for further investigation:Public service employees who appear to be doing business with the state,Supply agreements that reflect the identity numbers of deceased persons,Payments to bank accounts other than those of the relevant suppliers.Madam Speaker, in some cases we will find that there are legitimate explanations. But where fraud or corruption is identified, action must be taken. Letsogo la molao ke le letelele. The law will catch up with you. Molato ga o bole…The OCPO currently manages 71 transversal contracts covering over 23 000 items worth R61 billion. Good progress is being made to find better value for money while expanding and diversifying the number of suppliers.Savings of R675 million in 2016/17 on cell phones and vehicle contracts. The vehicle contract alone is expected to save the state between R1 billion and R1.5 billion per year over the medium term.In the property leasing sector, we expect savings of between R2 and R3 billion to be realised, while releasing resources for greater employment and contracting in building maintenance and services.Collaborative efforts between SITA and National Treasury have led to savings of R2.5 billion over the next three years in the ten largest ICT equipment contracts.Working with the Department of Basic Education on cost-effective standards for building design, we have reduced the average cost of new schools from R70 million for 7 500 square meters to R34 million.I need to emphasise again that suppliers who have met their delivery obligations are entitled to payment within 30 days. We will continue to monitor progress in meeting this commitment.Financial sector transformation and regulationSince the global financial crisis in 2008, we together with our partners in the G-20, have been on a long journey to make the banking system safer, and prevent the type of economic crisis that systemically important banks can trigger. We responded with a series of substantial, intrusive and intensive regulatory reforms. Cabinet approved the shift to the Twin Peaks regulatory system to make the financial sector safer and serve SA better, introducing the following structural reforms to our regulatory system:In 2012, the new Financial Markets Act introduced a framework for unlisted derivatives, which caused so much damage in the 2008 global financial crisis.In 2013, the Banks Amendment Act brought in requirements for increased capital and better liquidity management.In 2013, Government took steps to deal with household over-indebtedness starting with abuses in emolument attachment orders, also known as garnishee orders.In 2015, Minister Nene tabled the Financial Sector Regulation Bill to give effect the Twin Peaks system. As soon as this bill is enacted, we will be able to establish a fairly.Earlier this year, together with Minister Davies, new restrictions on credit life insurance were implemented, preventing the sale of retrenchment insurance to people without jobs, for example.As an employer, National Government has investigated 135,000 emolument orders against state employees and reduced the number of deductions by 49,000. We hope all employers will assist their employees in the same way.As we have seen recently with the Competition Commission investigation, there is evidence of a collusive culture at trading desks in banks. It is precisely to deal with such abuses that we have proposed a dedicated market conduct regulator, and we hope Parliament will pass this Bill as soon as possible. Collusion must be stamped out whether it is in banking, construction or the bread industry. But banks need tougher rules to cover financial market abuses, and the Reserve Bank and National Treasury have initiated work on a more comprehensive Financial Markets Review under the leadership of former Deputy Governor James Cross, to build on the Review conducted in 2014.Although progress has been made in transforming the financial sector, more needs to be done to broaden access through more affordable financial services, improve market conduct, ensure employment equity at top management levels, provide procurement opportunities and transform ownership.We live in an era of rapid technological change. Three new banks have been granted provisional licences, including the PostBank, and two new stock exchanges. Their business models are based on technological innovation with potential to bring services more cost- effectively to more people.I am pleased to announce that we will work with partners at NEDLAC who have requested that a Financial Sector Summit take place in 2017 to consider transformation in this sector.Partnership for transformation and inclusive growthHonourable Members, the 2017 Budget has been prepared with a view to strengthening both our economic growth and the transformation of our society. This year’s Budget Review sets out our point of departure:“To achieve the vision of the Constitution, South Africa needs transformation that opens a path to inclusive economic growth and development.Transformation without economic growth would be narrow and unsustainable.Growth without transformation would only reinforce the inequitable patterns of wealth inherited from the past.”Although our own transformation imperative derives from a particular historical trajectory, many analysts have pointed to similarities with social fragmentation and inequality challenges elsewhere in the world.In December last year, the economics profession lost one of its great champions of redistribution as a public policy priority. Tony Atkinson was both a leading author and academic in the field of public economics, and an expert in the study of the distribution of income and wealth. He provided compelling evidence that, in his words, “less inequality is associated with greater macroeconomic stability and more sustainable growth.” He argued strongly for active policies to address inequality.The evidence supports our insistence on a progressive income tax structure, our ongoing work on health insurance and social security reform, our focus on further education and training and our recognition of the structural and technological dimensions of our employment challenge all find resonance in Atkinson’s policy proposals. With an international agenda in mind, he also set out the case for a global individual tax on total wealth, higher official development assistance by rich countries, improved access of households to credit markets and guaranteed public employment for those out of work.On one important reform, we have taken a giant step forward. We have agreed to implement a minimum wage of R20 an hour with effect from next year. Its implementation will require complementary measures to support workers and employers in vulnerable and low-wage sectors, and enhanced assistance to young and unskilled work-seekers. We also need to seek progress on social security reform alongside phasing in the minimum wage.Our past efforts have come short of delivering either adequate growth or the social transformation we need. We are at a crossroads now. We need to act urgently to build confidence and support investment. We need to bring all stakeholders onto an inclusive growth and transformation path.We have proved that we can change course through negotiation, participation and partnership. We have the resilience needed to more forward confidently even in uncertain times.Last year, impetus was given to several initiatives under Mr Jabu Mabuza’s business sector leadership:A fund to support small and medium enterprises has been established,A youth employment service programme has been initiated, with the aim of creating a million work opportunities over the next three years,Strategic interventions to support black participation in agriculture have been developed.In the year ahead our focus must be on inclusive growth and a transformation action plan. Bold and ethical leadership is needed from all sectors of society.In this way we can all embrace a vision of substantive meaningful transformation which will allow us to say we all own our economy.It is not just at the level of leadership that there are transformation opportunities.In our communities, there are strong bonds and powerful traditions of caring. These are wonderful social assets, and I believe that all of us can commit to doing more to make the lives of fellow South Africans better.Obstacles there will be many. Overcome them. Detractors abound. Disprove them.Negativity inspired by greed and selfishness will obstruct us. Defeat the bearers of this toxic ethic.South Africans, wherever you are…. Own this process; defend your gains; demand accountability.Be an active agent for change. Umanyano Ngamandla (Unity is power.)So, what are the main elements of this budget:1. While global growth is slightly better, geo-political and economic uncertainties have increased.2. Our low growth trajectory provides a major challenge for government and citizens.3. We need to radically transform our economy so that we have a more diversified economy, with more jobs and inclusivity in ownership and participation.4. Our financial situation is difficult, but we have still produced a credible budget.5. We need to prioritise our spending better, implement our plans more effectively and make a greater impact.6. We need to build the widest possible partnership to promote consensus and action on a programme for inclusive growth and transformation.Allow me to thank you, Mister President and Deputy President, for your guidance. I would also like to thank my Cabinet colleagues and members of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget for their cooperation and support.I also thank our Provincial Premiers and Finance MECs, and Municipal Mayors, who share our fiscal and financial responsibilities, and Deputy Minister Jonas and Director-General Fuzile for their integrity and indefatigable commitment to public service.Members of the House will join me in expressing appreciation to staff of the National Treasury, the South African Reserve Bank, the South African Revenue Service and the finance family institutions.I am also grateful to the finance and appropriation committees, who have responsibility for considering the Division of Revenue Bill, the Appropriation Bill and today’s revenue and expenditure proposals.I paraphrase what I said in October last year,Fellow South Africans, if we make the right choices and do the right things we will achieve a just and fair society, founded on human dignity and equality. We will indeed transform our economy and country so that we all live in dignity, peace and wellbeing.This is the time for activists, workers, businesspersons, the clergy, professionals and citizens at large to actively engage in shaping the transformation agenda and ensuring that we do have a just and equitable society.We also need to consider, in the face of such intractable economic hardships and disparities, whether we should supplement our Constitutional Bill of Rights with a “Charter of Economic Rights” – a charter that would bind all of us to an economy which:Provides access to decent and well remunerated jobs,Facilitates training and retraining of citizens in the face of technological change, andCreates a supportive environment for micro, small and medium businesses and co- operatives.We can draw inspiration from Inkosi Albert Luthuli, when he says: “I believe that here in South Africa with all our diversities of colour and race, we will show the world a new pattern for democracy. There is a challenge for us to set a new example for all. Let us not side-step this task.”Ours is the collective responsibility, despite many distractions, to live up to the expectations of Oliver Tambo, Walter Sisulu, Beyers Naude, Nelson Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Yusuf Dadoo, Lilian Ngoyi and many others.In this way we will honour the confidence and trust of our people. In this way our transformation efforts will serve all South Africans.In his tribute to the South African soldiers who lost their lives with the sinking of the SS Mendi, the poet S.E.K Mqhayi wrote: “Kukhonza mnye ukuze kuphile abanye,” Somebody has to serve, so that others can live.Can we, in this spirit, say: we have built a better South Africa, with a more inclusive economy, and all citizens living in dignity, advancing economically, over generations to come.Ke-a-leboha Na Khensa Ndi-a-livhuwa NgiyathokozaWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.last_img read more

Traffic Down at Post-Paywall New York Times [STATS]

first_imgA Web Developer’s New Best Friend is the AI Wai… At the end of March, The New York Times finally activated the paywall that it had announced a year earlier. The publication took a “porous” approach to charging users, letting readers access up to 20 articles a month for free and allowing for links from social networks like Facebook or Twitter to pass through without counting. Still, onlookers have wondered what the effect of the wall would be on the site.According to Web traffic measurement firm Hitwise, the numbers are in and traffic has certainly dipped in the nearly two weeks since the wall was put in place.Hitwise examined traffic to the New York Times website according to two metrics, visits and pageviews, by comparing the 12 days prior to the pay wall to the 12 days after. While pageviews are defined as any time that page is loaded, even if multiple times by the same person, visits are broken into “sessions”, so if the same person visited the site once in the morning and then once later that day, it would count as two visits. Browsing a number of pages in a short period of time, however, would equal one visit but multiple pageviews.So what were the results? According to Hitwise, the site has seen “a decrease in the overall visits between 5% and 15%” and “a decline in total page views which ranged between 11% and 30%.” Top Reasons to Go With Managed WordPress Hosting Related Posts 8 Best WordPress Hosting Solutions on the Market Tags:#news#web center_img Hitwise notes the general decline in visits, speculating that the reason for the increase on Saturday, April 9, was “likely due to visitors seeking news around the potential government shutdown and ongoing budget discussions.” Why Tech Companies Need Simpler Terms of Servic… Similarly, pageviews decreased by anywhere from 11% to 30%. Surely, none of this is as bad as the now-fabled implementation of a paywall by the Newsday, however, which resulted in just 35 subscriptions in the three months after it was put in place.Hitwise also points out that networks like Facebook and Twitter could be used as a clever way to workaround the paywall, but that “to date there has not been a significant difference in the share of upstream traffic from both search and social networks to before and after the launch of the paywall.”Disclosure: ReadWriteWeb is a syndication partner of the New York Times Technology section. mike melansonlast_img read more

Indian-Americans Offer To Fund Trump Wall To Win Green Cards

first_imgTheir plight may not be as dramatic as that of the illegal immigrant mother whose infant daughter was allegedly taken from her by immigration officials as she breast-fed her in a detention center. Or as traumatic as that of thousands of young children forcibly separated from their parents under the Trump administration’s “zero tolerance” policy as they illegally crossed the border and who are now lodged in warehouses.Read it at Times of India Related Itemslast_img

Neck pain

first_imgDefinitionNeck pain is discomfort in any of the structures in the neck. These include the muscles, nerves, bones (vertebrae), and the disks between the bones.Alternative NamesPain – neck; Neck stiffnessConsiderationsWhen your neck is sore, you may have difficulty moving it, especially turning to one side. Many people describe this as having a stiff neck.If neck pain involves nerves, you may feel numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm, hand, or elsewhere.CausesA common cause of neck pain is muscle strain or tension. Usually, everyday activities are to blame. Such activities include:Bending over a desk for hoursPoor posture while watching TV or readingHavingyour computer monitor positioned too high or too lowSleeping in an uncomfortable positionTwisting and turning the neck in a jarring manner while exercisingAccidents or falls can cause severe neck injuries such as vertebral fractures, whiplash, blood vessel injury, and even paralysis.Other causes include:Medical conditions, such as fibromyalgiaCervical arthritis or spondylosisRuptured diskSmall fractures to the spine from osteoporosisSpinal stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal)SprainsInfection of the spine (osteomyelitis, diskitis, abscess)Cancer that involves the spineHome CareFor minor, common causes of neck pain:Take over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB) or acetaminophen (Tylenol).Apply heat or ice to the painful area. Use ice for the first 48to 72 hours, then use heat after that. Heat may be applied withwarm showers,hot compresses, or a heating pad. To prevent injuring your skin, do not fall asleep with a heating pad or ice bag in place.Stop normal physical activity for the first few days. This helps calm your symptoms and reduce inflammation.Do slow range-of-motion exercises, up and down, side to side, and from ear to ear. This helps to gently stretch the neck muscles.Have a partner gently massage the sore or painful areas.Try sleeping on a firm mattress without a pillow or with a special neck pillow.Ask your health care provider about usinga soft neck collar to relieve discomfort.Do not use the collar for a long time. Doing socan make your neck muscles weaker.You may want to reduce your activity only for the first couple of days. Then slowly resume your usual activities. Do notdo anyheavy lifting or twisting of your back or neck for the first 6 weeks after the pain begins. After 2 to3 weeks, slowlybeginexercising again. A physical therapist can help you decide when to begin stretching and strengthening exercises and how to do them.advertisementDo not dothe following during yourearly recovery, unless your doctor or physical therapist says it is OK:JoggingFootballGolfBalletWeight liftingLeg lifts when lying on your stomachSit-ups with straight legs (rather than bent knees)The following steps can prevent neck pain or help your neck pain improve:Use relaxation techniques and regular exercise to prevent stress and tension to the neck muscles.Learn stretching exercises for your neck and upper body. Stretch every day, especially before and after exercise. A physical therapist can teach you these exercises.Use good posture, especially if you sit at a desk all day. Keep your back supported. Adjust your computer monitor to eye level. This prevents you from continually looking up or down.If you work at a computer, stretch your neck every hour or so.Use a headset when on the telephone, especially if answering or using the phone is a main part of your job.When reading or typing from documents at your desk, place them in a holder at eye level.Evaluate your sleeping conditions. Make sure your pillow is properly and comfortably supporting your head and neck. You may need a special neck pillow. Make sure your mattress is firm enough.Use seat belts and bike helmets to prevent injuries.When to Contact a Medical ProfessionalSeek medical help right away if:You have a fever and headache, and your neck is so stiff that you cannot touch your chin to your chest. This may be meningitis. Call your local emergency number (such as 911) or get to a hospital.You have symptoms of a heart attack, such as shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, vomiting, or arm or jaw pain.Call your health care provider if:Symptoms do not go away in 1 week with self careYou have numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or handYour neck pain was caused by a fall, blow, or injury — if you cannot move your arm or hand, have someone call 911You have swollen glands or a lump in your neckYour pain does not go away with regular doses of over-the-counter pain medicationYou have difficulty swallowing or breathing along with the neck painThe pain gets worse when you lie down or wakes you up at nightYour pain is so severe that you cannot get comfortableYou lose control over urination or bowel movementsWhat to Expect at Your Office VisitadvertisementYour doctor or nurse will perform a physical exam and ask about your neck pain, including how often it occurs and how much it hurts. Other questions may include:Is your pain in the front, back, or side of your neck?Are both sides of your neck affected equally?When did the pain first develop?Is it painful all the time or does the pain come and go?Can you touch your chin to your chest?What makes your neck feel worse? What makes your neck feel better?Do you have neck weakness or neck stiffness?Do you have any accompanying symptoms like numbness, tingling, or weakness in your arm or hand?Do you have swollen glands or a lump in your neck?Your answers helpthe doctor determine the cause of your neck pain and whether it is likely to quickly get better with simple measures such as ice, mild painkillers, physical therapy, and proper exercises. Most of the time, neck pain will get better in 4to 6 weeks using these approaches.Your doctor or nurse will probably not order any tests during the first visit, unless you have symptoms or a medical history that suggests a tumor, infection, fracture, or serious nerve disorder. In that case, the following tests may be done:X-rays of the neckCT scan of the neck or headBlood tests such as a complete blood count (CBC)MRI of the neckIf the pain is due to muscle spasm or a pinched nerve, your health care provider may prescribe a muscle relaxantor a more powerful pain reliever. Over-the-counter medications often work as well as prescription drugs. The health care provider may prescribe a neck collar or, if there is nerve damage, refer you to a neurologist or neurosurgeon for consultation.If your doctor or nurse thinks your neck pain may be due to meningitis, you will be sent to an emergency department for further tests and treatment.ReferencesCheng JS, McGirt MJ, Degin C. Neck pain. In: In: Firestein GS, Budd RC, Gabriel SE, et al., eds. Kellys Textbook of Rheumotology. 9th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Elsevier Saunders; 2012:chap 45.Devereaux MW. Neck pain. Med Clin North Am. 2009;93:273-284.Gross A, Miller J, DSylva J, et al. Manipulation or mobilisation for neck pain. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010 Jan 20;(1):CD004249.Review Date:4/16/2013Reviewed By:C. Benjamin Ma, MD, Assistant Professor, Chief, Sports Medicine and Shoulder Service, UCSF Department of Orthopaedic Surgery. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.last_img read more

2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be safe: S Korea

first_imgSouth Korea promised today that the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang would be safe after some nations suggested they may skip the event if tensions over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions worsen.The Pyeongchang Winter Games, which will be held from February 9–25, is only 80 kilometres from the heavily guarded border with the nuclear-armed North.French and Austrian officials last week raised the prospect of not sending athletes as US and North Korean leaders intensified their war of words.Seoul’s foreign ministry played down the security fears, saying that it is working through diplomatic channels to reassure the participants. “The South Korean government is doing its utmost to ensure that the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics and Paralympics will be safe,” Noh Kyu–Duk, ministry spokesman, said, adding, “As of now, no country has officially said it will not participate.”Tensions have soared following Pyongyang’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3, which triggered a heated volley of threats and personal insults between US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong–Un.Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, while Kim hit back with a personal attack on Trump, branding him “mentally deranged” and warning he would pay dearly for his threats.In the latest episode of the saga, the North Korean foreign minister claimed on Monday that Trump’s latest comments amounted to a declaration of war.But the head of the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, Lee Hee–Beom said earlier this month there was no “plan B” to move the Games and next year’s event would have “perfect security” despite the nuclear tensions.The South has successfully staged several international sporting events including the 2002 football World Cup despite decades of military tensions on the peninsula.The 1988 Seoul summer Olympics took place only months after a bomb planted by North Korean agents killed all 115 people on board a South Korean plane, in an apparent attempt to scare off foreign spectators and contestants. Published on × South Korea null RELATED COMMENTS North Korea triggers 2018 Winter Olympics security scare September 26, 2017 OLYMPICS_2018_   –  Reuters OLYMPICS_2018_   –  Reuters Winter Olympics 2018: North Korea could send a delegation to South Korea North Korea SHARE SHARE EMAIL SHARE sport COMMENTlast_img read more