South Africa to concentrate on job creation in key sectors including Construction

Cape Town - Over the next three years, government will focus on five key areas to grow the economy and transform South Africa into a safer, healthier, more skilled country that is able to create and sustain more jobs.

Despite the fact that expenditure on infrastructure such as roads and transport has risen sharply, the country has made little progress on many of the Millennium Development Goals.

Too many children cannot read or count, too many women die giving birth and too few people are reached by public employment programmes.

Government's key areas outlined in the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement are: supporting job creation; enhancing education and skills; improving provision of health care; driving a strategy to assist rural areas and upping the fight against crime and corruption.

Government plans to continue investing in infrastructure over the next three years and to promote the access to basic services - such as water, sanitation and electricity - to expand public transport and to build more schools and hospitals.

Housing delivery will also be speeded up by improving the coordination between provinces which administer the housing grant and municipalities, which provide bulk infrastructure.

The main budget makes an additional R78 billion available for allocation to the new priorities. The amount is less than in previous years, amid a more difficult economic environment.

In all, 51 percent of the additional resources will go to provincial government, mainly to accommodate higher personnel costs and for spending on education, health and housing.

Municipalities will get 16 percent of the amount, the majority of which will go to compensate the rising costs of providing free basic services, such as the 509 million to fund the provision of free electricity, and to sustain spending on infrastructure.

The national share will largely fund the increase in the number of social grant beneficiaries and be allocated to public employment programmes.

Also targeted are rural development and law-enforcement agencies, while support to business and industry will also be considered with a focus on increasing employment and investments in key sectors.

The comprehensive agricultural support programme has provided support services to 258 830 beneficiaries since its inception in 2004 until the last financial year.

The government has also provided R4.1 billion in grants to provinces to support newly settled farmers, through the comprehensive agricultural support programme grant, the land care programme grant and the Letsema grant.

Government is expected to spend a total of R841.4 billion - economic affairs with R182.9 billion; education with R144 billion; social protection with R121 billion, health with R89.8 billion, and public safety withR77.7 billion to have the highest allocations.

Spending is set to increase to R905.6 billion next year, with education to increase to R160.2 billion, social protection to R132.2 billion, public safety to R85.9 billion and health to R100.8 billion.

A total of R589 million has been set aside for the establishment of new departments and the appointment of new ministers.

This year, provinces are expected to get R295.4 billion, increasing to R321.4 next year, while local government is allocated R50.5 billion, increasing to R59.3 billion next year.

About R12.8 billion is added to local government's share, mainly to compensate municipalities for the higher cost of providing free basic services.

The municipal infrastructure grant and other infrastructure programmes will also be allocated additional resources. - BuaNews