From the Government Gazette, Speeches by Cabinet Members and Media Statements (2 November 2020)
Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
- The statement included several announcements not widely reported:
- The 1956 Pension Fund Act’s Regulation 28 (as amended in March 2011) is being reviewed to facilitate increased investment in infrastructure.
- ‘A further R6.7bn’ has been ‘contractually committed’ to augment existing ‘subsidies of R2.2bn’ in support of a social housing programme targeting ‘poor, working South Africans’.
- The loan guarantee scheme is being reviewed to ‘improve take-up’.
- Interventions will be made to ‘boost business re-start efforts’.
- R12.6bn has been allocated to employment initiatives being ‘championed’ by President Cyril Ramaphosa. It will be used to:
- ‘support jobs at fee-paying public schools and government-subsidised independent schools’
- ‘employ early childhood development and social workers’
- bolster existing ‘working for fire, working for water and working for forests’ programmes, and to
- boost employment across ‘the transport, arts, sports and culture, health and agricultural sectors’.
- R6.8bn has been ‘redirected’ from the ‘public employment programme allocation’ to fund a three-month extension to the Covid-19 social relief of distress grant, which will be available to qualifying beneficiaries until ‘the end of January 2021’.
- A further R1bn has been allocated to food relief.
- An ‘historic agreement’ has been reached in the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac) regarding ‘the annuitisation of provident funds’. ‘Beginning in March 2021’, this will ‘enable all workers to continue … (enjoying) tax deductions on their contributions’.
- Agreement has also been reached in Nedlac on accelerating the introduction of pension plan ‘auto-enrolment’ for all employed workers, and ‘the establishment of a fund to cater for … (those) currently excluded from pension coverage’.
- Legislation will be introduced ‘next year’ with the aim of providing for ‘limited pre-retirement withdrawals under certain circumstances, linked to mandatory preservation requirements’.
Expanded public works programmes
- On 29 October, Public Works and Infrastructure Minister Patricia De Lille issued a statement among other things providing more information on four ‘special’, ‘mass public employment programmes’ linked to the recently-announced presidential employment stimulus package.
- Gazetted in July with 58 other strategic integrated projects:
- one programme focuses on digitising government’s ‘paper-based records’ and will provide jobs to unemployed graduates, while
- the other three are labour-intensive and will be used to ‘clean up’ SA’s towns and cities, build ‘rural bridges’ and rehabilitate/upgrade rural roads.
- The statement also unpacks the institutional arrangements being made to implement all 62 strategic integrated projects.
Agricultural input vouchers
- According to speaking notes on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister Thoko Didiza’s input during a media briefing on 29 October (SAnews), the voucher ‘top-up’ referred to in the presidential employment stimulus package will target ‘subsistence producers … at household level’ on plots of land ‘between a quarter and one hectare’.
- On 28 October, National Treasury released a draft policy on financial inclusion for public comment.
- According to an accompanying media statement, once in force, among other things, the policy will:
- ‘extend access to financial services for small, medium and micro enterprises’, and
- ‘leverage a more diversified provider and distribution base for financial services’.
- The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries gazetted a notice on 26 October calling for written representations on, or objections to, applications for the exclusion of certain waste streams from being defined as such – and instead used for beneficial purposes. Interested and affected parties are referred to the associated risk assessments and risk management plans.
Environmental impact assessments
- Protocols for assessing and reporting on activities likely to impact on terrestrial animal and plant species were gazetted on 30 October and are now in force.
Prepared by Pam Saxby
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"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.