National Budget Speech 2014 delivered by Gordhan – Highlights

Here are the Highlights and a “brief” summary of the 2014/2015 “South African National Budget Speech(Download Budget Speech South Africa 2014)”:https://www.into-sa.comhttps://www.into-sa.com/uploads/download/file/357/Budget_Speech__2014_.pdf, delivered by Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan to Parliament today in Cape Town:

h3. BUDGET FRAMEWORK

— Budget deficit of four percent of GDP expected for 2013/14, narrowing to 2.8 percent in 2016/17;

— Debt stock as percentage of GDP to stabilise at 44.3 percent in 2016/17;

— Tax revenue for 2013/14 expected to be R1 billion higher than projected in 2013 budget;

— Real growth in non-interest spending to average 1.9 percent over next three years;

— National and provincial government expenditure on travel, catering, consultants and other administrative payments declines as a share of spending;

— Expenditure ceiling commits government to spending limits of R1.03trn in 2014/15, R1.11trn in 2015/16 and R1.18trn in 2016/17.

h3. SPENDING PROGRAMMES

Over the next three years, government will spend:

— R410bn on social grants;

— R15.2bn on the economic competitiveness and support package;

— R8.5bn on the Community Work Programme;

— R8.7bn on settlement of land restitution claims;

— R7bn for subsistence and smallholder farmers;

— R78bn on university subsidies and R19.4bn for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme;

— R34.3bn on school infrastructure;

— R22.9bn to upgrade commuter rail services;

— R143.8bn to support municipal infrastructure;

— R42bn on the HIV and Aids conditional grant.

h3. TAX PROPOSALS

— Personal income tax relief of R9.3bn;

— Adjustments to tax tables relating to retirement lump-sum payments;

— Measures to encourage small enterprise development;

— Clarity on valuation of company cars for fringe-benefit tax purposes;

— Reforms to tax treatment of the risk business of long-term insurers;

— Amending rules for VAT input tax to combat gold smuggling;

— Measures to address acid mine drainage;

— Adjustment of the proposed carbon tax and its alignment with desired emission-reduction outcomes identified by the environmental affairs department.

h3. SIN TAXES UP AGAIN

South Africans will from Wednesday have to reach deeper into their pockets to pay for alcohol, cigarettes and fuel. Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan stuck with tradition in his annual budget and again raised sin taxes. A packet of 20 cigarettes will now cost you 68 cents more. Whisky drinkers will pay R4.80 cents more for a bottle of the beverage, while the price of a 340ml can of beer goes up nine cents. However, the duty rate on traditional African beer remains unchanged. These tax increases take effect immediately.

The fuel levy is set to increase by a total of 20 cents a litre from April 2. This includes the eight cents a litre which will go towards the Road Accident Fund.

h3. TAX REVENUE KEEPS GROWING

Despite moderate economic growth, tax revenues have remained buoyant over the past year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said today. “In 2013/14, we will collect ZAR 899 billion. This is ZAR 1bn more than we projected last February, and ZAR 4bn above the estimate presented at the time of the 2013 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement,” he told the National Assembly in his 2014/15 budget speech. For the first time since the recession, corporate income tax revenues would exceed the 2008/2009 peak of ZAR 165bn.

Gordhan said that in 1994, tax revenue amounted to R114bn. Revenue collected next year would exceed ZAR 1 trillion. This was nearly a tenfold increase in nominal terms. This was achieved while reducing the tax rate for companies from 40 percent, in 1994, to 28 percent, and the top marginal rate for individuals from 45 percent, in 1995, to 40%, he said.

During this period, the contribution of corporate income tax as a proportion of total revenue had nearly doubled. “We have also improved the fairness of the tax system by taxing residents on their worldwide income and taxing capital gains.” These changes had brought the South African tax system more in line with international principles and had substantially broadened the tax base. The main tax proposals for the 2014 Budget included personal income tax relief of ZAR 9.25bn. About 40 percent of the relief went to South Africans earning below ZAR 250 000 a year.

The tax-free, lump-sum amount paid out of retirement funds would be increased from ZAR 315 000 to ZAR 500 000, benefiting especially lower income members who did not benefit from deductible contributions. Excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco products would increase by nine cents per 340ml can of beer and 68 cents a packet of 20 cigarettes. The price of whisky would increase by R4.80 a bottle. These increases took effect immediately. “In recognition of recent increases in the imported cost of fuel, the general fuel levy increase is limited to an inflation-related 12 cents per litre on 2 April 2014, and the Road Accident Fund levy will increase by eight cents per litre,” he said.

Legislation to allow for tax-exempt savings accounts would proceed this year to encourage household savings. Complementing this tax reform, a new top-up retail savings bond would be introduced by the National Treasury this year, allowing for regular deposits into a government retail bond. It would also be accessible to community savings groups, such as stokvels. Options for introducing a sukuk retail savings bond were also being explored. The Income Tax Act currently required philanthropic foundations to distribute 75 percent of the money they generated within a year. This requirement was unduly restrictive and would be relaxed, while ensuring that accumulated capital was distributed to worthy causes within a reasonable period.

Regulatory and other measures had been put in place to address the environmental consequences of acid mine drainage. “To complement current efforts and ensure that the mining sector makes its fair contribution towards continuing acid mine drainage expenses, consultations will be initiated on an appropriate funding mechanism,” he said. Following public consultation, the Treasury and the environmental affairs department had agreed that a package of measures was needed to address climate change and to reduce emissions. This would include the proposed carbon tax, environmental regulations, renewable energy projects and other targeted support programmes. To allow for further consultation, implementation of the carbon tax was postponed by a year to 2016.

Gordhan said reforms to the tax treatment of risk business for long-term insurers were also proposed. Profits from the risk business of a long-term insurer would be taxed in the corporate fund, similar to the way short-term insurers were taxed. The first recommendation of the tax review committee — headed by Judge Dennis Davis and appointed last year to make recommendations for possible reforms — related to small and medium enterprises. These proposals were taken forward in this budget. The committee had also started working on base erosion and profit shifting — trends that were under scrutiny internationally.

During 2014, work would be undertaken on the impact of the tax system on economic growth and job creation, and aspects of VAT, mining taxes and estate duties. On tax administration, Gordhan said that in the past five years, the tax register of individuals grew from 5.5 million to over 15m to include all known economically-active individuals. Companies on the tax register now stood at more than 2.3m. The number of employers registered for pay-as-you-earn was nearly 404,000. In the next fiscal year, the SA Revenue Service would implement single registration of taxpayers and traders for the main taxes. SARS was already working closely with other government agencies to share non-confidential electronic data. “Without compromising privacy and confidentiality, this will contribute to reducing identity fraud, lower administration costs and enhance compliance,” he said. New global tax policies were being devised to counter harmful tax practices, and treaties were being designed to allow for the automatic exchange of information. SARS currently chaired the 121-country Global Forum for the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes.

Since the Tax Administration Act came into effect, SARS had recognised 11 bodies to which tax practitioners had to belong, and 15,000 tax practitioners were now registered with them. Taxpayers were advised to only use tax practitioners recognised by SARS. Over the past two years, the voluntary disclosure programme had realised almost R5bn from income that was not previously declared, he said.

h3. HEALTH GETS R145BN

The health department will get ZAR 145.7bn in the 2014/2015 budget. Of this amount, ZAR 52.3bn is for district health services; ZAR 26.7bn for provincial services; and, ZAR 24.3bn for central health services. About ZAR 7.7bn is earmarked for spending on health infrastructure. Tabling his budget in the National Assembly todayy, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said spending on healthcare had produced visible results. “But the improvements to this country’s health system over the past five years are best seen in our rising life expectancy, the reduction in infant, child and maternal mortality, and the changed lives of 2.5 million people who now have access to antiretrovirals.”

He said R41bn had been spent on HIV and Aids programmes over the past five years, and R43.5bn was budgeted for the next three. “We have spent R38bn on 1879 hospitals and other health facility projects, and R26 billion is allocated over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework period ahead.” A once-off allocation of R30 million had been made for another South African demographic health survey, which collected population-based health data. The survey is normally carried out every five years, but has not been done since 2003/04. According to the 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure, tabled by Gordon, the spending focus over the medium term is on increasing life expectancy and reducing the burden of disease.

h3. GORDHAN SILENT ON HIS FUTURE

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said he would not answer questions on whether he was tabling his last budget, or would return to his portfolio after the May elections. “All of us serve at the pleasure of the president. Wait for the elections and the occasion when the president formally tells you what his Cabinet is going to look like. I invite you to be disciplined,” he told a media briefing ahead of his budget speech. “No questions on that issue need to be accommodated.” In the briefing, Gordhan later pointed out that he was not tabling a “four-month budget” but a medium-term expenditure framework for three years, suggesting that there would be fiscal stability regardless of the change of administration in May. The minister recently hinted in a newspaper interview that he may end his tenure as finance chief after the poll, saying if he did so the reasons would be partly political, partly personal. However, he added, in the end the decision would rest with the ruling party.

h3. HOUSEHOLD DEBT CONCERNING:

The level of over-indebtedness of households is concerning, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said today. Tabling his 2014/15 budget in the National Assembly, he said government recognised the need to protect and improve the financial well-being of households, to make them less vulnerable to a sudden loss of income in bad times. “We recognise that households must be encouraged to invest in their future, including investment in homes or productive assets, and saving for retirement or business purposes,” he said. South Africa had made good progress towards achieving the National Development Plan’s goal of 90 percent access to financial services by 2030.

Some 79% of adult South Africans were using regulated financial services in 2013. Many more households had access to affordable credit, which was of great benefit when used productively, but bad when used to fund excessive consumption. “Government is concerned about the level of over-indebtedness of households,” Gordhan said. Cabinet had therefore approved a number of measures to assist such households reduce their debt burden, and to stamp out abusive and fraudulent activities of reckless lenders and unscrupulous debt collectors. “Working jointly with the ministers of trade and industry and justice, we will shortly commence actions against abusive and unsustainable practices.”

With regard to retirement, Gordhan said there would be further reforms over the period ahead. Legislation had already been passed by Parliament to improve governance over pension and provident funds, and to align the rules and tax treatment of pension and provident funds, while at the same time protecting vested rights. “We still seek improved coverage and preservation of retirement funds, and lower costs in the system. Government was consulting, within the[National Economic Development and Labour Council, on measures to cover the six million employed South Africans who did not enjoy access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan. “We intend to move progressively towards a mandatory system of retirement for all employed workers.” Agreement had been reached with the Association of Savings and Investment of SA on a way forward to reduce the level of charges for retirement savings products. Draft regulatory reforms would be published shortly, Gordhan said.

h3. WEAK RAND A ‘SHOCK ABSORBER’

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan also looked to the bright side of the weak local currency, terming the rand a “shock absorber”. “The rand remains an effective shock absorber against global volatility,” Gordhan said in his last budget speech before national elections. “Recent movements of the currency have been supportive of export growth while reducing the country’s reliance on capital flows.” The sentiment was echoed by Reserve Bank governor Gill Marcus, who said the rand was acting as a stimulant to exports and also, potentially, to local manufacturing as the price of imports went up. “South Africa follows a flexible exchange rate approach precisely because the exchange rate is the shock absorber, which is doing its job,” Marcus told a joint media briefing with Gordhan ahead of his budget speech.

She added: “The depreciating currency actually acts as a stimulus, if you look at the actual revenue numbers… it also enhances our competitiveness. “The other element of it is that your imports become more expensive, as we have seen. It is an opportunity again for South African business to look at what its production is like. Is there a possibility of import substitution that takes place?” Marcus said this did not mean that authorities were encouraging currency depreciation, but it was “a fact” that flowed from the post-crisis normalisation of developed economies, in particular the United States. Tapering by the US Federal Reserve began last month and has seen the rand weaken by some eight percent.

h3. GLOBAL RECOVERY HOLDS OPPORTUNITIES FOR SA

As global economic growth recovers there will be opportunities and risks for South Africa’s economy, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said. “These developments have the potential to increase our exports,” he told the National Assembly in his 2014 Budget speech. The global economic outlook remained unsteady — some advanced economies had returned to growth, while others continued to lag.

The slowdown in quantitative easing by the US Federal Reserve had caused further uncertainty to financial markets, currency volatility and capital outflows from emerging markets.

“South Africa’s economy has continued to grow, but more slowly than projected a year ago. We expect growth of 2.7 percent this year.

“A weaker exchange rate is a risk to the inflation outlook, but it supports exporters. Sustained improvements in competitiveness require further investment in infrastructure and a range of micro-economic reforms,” he said.

Among South Africa’s emerging market partners, growth remained strong, but demand for mineral products had moderated and was unlikely to pick up soon.

“The prices of our largest sources of foreign earnings remain depressed.”

However, the rand remained an effective shock absorber against global volatility. Recent movements of the currency had been supportive of export growth, while reducing the country’s reliance on capital inflows.

“We must ensure that our fiscal and monetary choices keep inflation low and maintain the recent gains in competitiveness.

“While we have made significant progress in accumulating reserves, there is scope for further improvement. This will support the stability of the currency,” Gordhan said.

Growth was projected to increase from 2.7 percent this year, to 3.5 percent in 2016. Investment was forecast to increase by about five percent a year, and the current account deficit would average 5.8 percent of GDP over the medium-term, while consumer price inflation would return to levels within the target band (three to six percent) between 2015 and 2016.

Potential domestic risks to the outlook included further delays to the introduction of new infrastructure, particularly additional electricity capacity; higher inflation due to the weakness of the rand; and, protracted labour disputes, which could depress consumer and business confidence, he said.

h3. BUDGET FOCUS ON INDUSTRIAL INCENTIVES

Incentives for industrial development will receive the bulk of the trade and industry department’s R9.8 billion budget in 2014/15.

According to the 2014 Estimates of National Expenditure, tabled by Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday, incentive development and administration will make up well over half of its total budget.

“This is allocated to incentives such as the manufacturing development incentives — which contribute to the development of manufacturing industries — and the special economic zones investment incentives.”

These attracted investment to further the objectives of the industrial development action plan.

Spending on these grew by an average of 25 percent a year since 2010, largely due to the introduction of the special economic zones (SEZs) investment incentives, and the economic competitiveness and support package, which was introduced following the recession.

“The special economic zones investment incentives schemes encourages increased investment in South Africa through provision of infrastructure.”

The budget for the SEZs was revised downwards by R553 million, to R3.6 bn, so preparatory work could be done before the project became operational.

“This will be used mainly for conducting pre-feasibility and feasibility studies for the proposed SEZs in all nine provinces; infrastructure projects in the existing industrial development zones; and newly-designated special economic zones through the incentive scheme.”

h3. ELIMINATE WASTEFUL SPENDING, CORRUPTION

Eliminating wasteful spending and corruption is a focus of the 2014 Budget, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said. Tabling the budget in the National Assembly, he said it was one in which circumstances dictated that “we cannot add resources to the overall spending envelope”. “The emphasis falls therefore on ensuring that expenditure is allocated efficiently, enhancing management, cutting waste and eliminating corruption,” he said. A series of initiatives were focused on these concerns, including spending reviews to examine programme performance and value-for-money. These were being conducted by the National Treasury and performance monitoring and evaluation department, and by provincial treasuries.

The office of the accountant general had stepped up efforts to strengthen the financial control environment, and had undertaken 27 forensic reviews over the past 12 months, leading to both criminal investigations and internal disciplinary action. As part of efforts to combat waste, cost-containment instructions were issued in January 2014. Budgets for consultants, travel, accommodation, and venue hire had been curtailed, which would contribute to savings over the next three years. Forthcoming regulations would strengthen the National Treasury’s oversight of public entities by requiring compliance with reporting requirements for spending, revenue, borrowing, and performance. Gordhan said an initiative undertaken jointly with the public works department to review the validity and cost effectiveness of all government property leases had exposed several deficiencies.

These included accommodation that was unoccupied, but being paid for; accommodation occupied by non-governmental entities; discrepancies between the size of accommodation occupied and what was paid for; marked divergence from market rates per square metre; procurement through inappropriate non-competitive procedures; missing or invalid lease agreements; and, unsubstantiated payments to landlords. The intervention also identified a backlog of more than half of the lease portfolio reviewed, he said. As a result of this initiative, the public works department now had a turnaround strategy that would enable it to regularise the lease portfolio, while ensuring continuity of services to client departments.

On procurement reforms, Gordhan said the chief procurement office had been established and had made progress on several fronts, including development of a standard lease agreement to address defects in government property transactions. Infrastructure procurement processes and documentation were being standardised, and an inspectorate to monitor procurement plans and audit tender documents was being established. Processing of vendors’ tax clearance certificates to ensure compliance was being enhanced, procurement of health equipment, drugs, and medicines was being centralised to effect savings, and the business interests of government employees were being analysed.

“We are also mindful of the importance of government procurement in supporting local industry and black economic development. “This requires a database of South African products and black-owned businesses so that the system can foster economic empowerment and dynamically contribute to growth. “And further, tougher measures are being considered to enforce the rule that small businesses in particular must be paid within 30 days,” he said.

h3. RADICAL ECONOMIC CHANGE NEEDED

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan on Wednesday urged South Africans to work together to radically change the economy.

“The new economic order we seek cannot just be a pact among elites, a coalition among stakeholders with vested interests. Nor can it be built on populist slogans or unrealistic promises,” he told the National Assembly during his 2014/15 budget speech.

“We have to work together to radically change our economy. This means working with our major businesses so that they sparkle across the globe.”

It meant working with black entrepreneurs to grow their companies across South Africa, and beyond, working with small and large businesses to build value-chain linkages that supported dynamic, export-oriented, competitive enterprises.

“It means bringing those who are marginalised into the mainstream of opportunity and activity. It means a better standard of living for all.

“It is time for a bold vision of our future, as set out in the National Development Plan. It is time for action and implementation. It is time to move South Africa forward to the next stage of our historic journey to more rapid growth, jobs and development — time to leave behind poverty, joblessness and inequality.”

Gordhan said that while the global economic outlook remained unsteady, South Africa’s economy had continued to grow, but more slowly than projected a year ago.

“We expect growth of 2.7 percent this year. A weaker exchange rate is a risk to the inflation outlook, but it supports exporters.”

Despite slower economic growth, the 2013/14 budget deficit was projected to be four percent of GDP, lower than projected in October.

The deficit would narrow to 2.8 percent over the medium-term, and net debt would stabilise at about 45 percent of GDP in 2016/17.

The budget provided R9.3 billion in income tax relief to households. Government would expand its employment programmes over the next three years and continue to support job creation by the private sector.

The budget allocated R6.5bn over three years to support small and medium enterprises.

The turnover tax regime would be amended to further reduce the tax burden on micro-enterprises.

Consideration was being given to replacing the graduated tax structure for small business corporations with a refundable tax compliance credit.

Gordhan said progress was being made in overcoming infrastructure backlogs and investing for more inclusive growth and development.

Public infrastructure investment would amount to R847bn over the next three years.

The first unit of the Medupi power station was expected to be completed towards the end of this year.

Transnet had increased capacity on its coal line. Plans were in place to further expand the coal, iron ore and manganese lines.

The Passenger Rail Agency of SA refurbished 500 Metrorail coaches last year, and its new rolling stock procurement programme would get under way this year.

Spending on social infrastructure, which included health, education and community facilities, would increase from R30bn in 2012/13 to R43bn in 2016/17. Priority would be given to programmes to eradicate school infrastructure backlogs and to refurbish clinics and hospitals.

In 2014/15, a total of R40bn in infrastructure grants would be transferred to local governments for their water, sanitation, energy and environmental functions.

The private sector was also making an increasing contribution to infrastructure investment. Contracts for 47 renewable energy projects were concluded in 2012 and 2013, many of which were already under construction.

These would add 2460MW of power capacity, and investment of R70bn. A further R45bn in investment would be contracted this year.

Consumer price inflation (CPI) was expected to come in at 5.7 percent for 2013, 6.2 percent this year, 5.9 percent next year, and 5.5 percent in 2016.

Gordhan said the number of people eligible for social grants was due to reach 16.5 million by 2016/17. The recent re-registration of grant recipients and the introduction of a new payment system had lowered the cost of administration.

“One million invalid beneficiaries were removed from the system. Social grants are meant for those who need them most.”

The old age and disability grants would increase in April, from R1270 a month to R1350; the foster care grant would increase from R800 to R830; and, the child support grant would increase, from R300 to R310 a month in April, and to R320 in October.

Increases in excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco would add nine cents to the price of a 340ml can of beer and 68 cents to a packet of 20 cigarettes. Whisky would cost R4.80 a bottle more. These increases took effect immediately.

The general fuel levy would increase by 12 cents a litre on April 2, and the Road Accident Fund levy would increase by eight cents a litre.

Consolidated revenue for 2014/15 was expected to be R1.1trn and spending R1.25trn.

“We have achieved much over the past five years, in a very difficult post-recession climate. But there is more to do ahead, more to build, more to put right, more to learn, more to implement. We can only do this together,” Gordhan said.

h3. BUDGET 2014 BRINGS TAX RELIEF

Income tax relief of R9.3 billion and massive future spending on social grants are among the main features of this year’s pre-election budget.

Other highlights include a budget deficit that is expected to narrow to 2.8 percent of GDP by 2016/17, supporting a stabilisation of debt at 44.3 percent of GDP.

Tabling his 2014 Budget in the National Assembly on Wednesday, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told MPs he expected a budget deficit of four percent of GDP for this year and next (2014/15).

Tax revenue this year (2013/14) was expected to be R1bn higher than projected in the 2013 budget.

Gordhan said real growth in non-interest spending should average 1.9 percent over the next three years.

Over the next three years, government intended to spend, among others, R410bn on social grants, R15.2bn on the economic competitiveness and support package, R8.7bn on settlement of land restitution claims, R7bn for subsistence and smallholder farmers, R78bn on university subsidies and R19.4bn for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme, and R143.8bn to support municipal infrastructure.

Tax proposals included steps to encourage small enterprise development, clarity on the valuation of company cars for fringe-benefit tax purposes, and reforms to the tax treatment of the risk business of long-term insurers.

Also proposed are amended rules for VAT input tax to combat gold smuggling; measures to address acid mine drainage; and, adjustment of the proposed carbon tax and its alignment with desired emission-reduction outcomes identified by the environmental affairs department.

Consumer price inflation (CPI) was expected to come in at 5.7 percent for 2013, 6.2 percent this year, 5.9 percent next year, and 5.5 percent in 2016.

Gordhan announced that the old age and disability grants would increase in April, from R1270 a month to R1350.

The foster care grant would increase from R800 to R830, and the child support grant would increase from R300 to R310 a month in April, and to R320 in October.

Increases in excise duties on alcoholic beverages and tobacco would add nine cents to the price of a 340ml can of beer and 68 cents to a packet of 20 cigarettes. Whisky would cost R4.80 a bottle more. These increases took effect immediately.

The general fuel levy would increase by 12 cents a litre on April 2, and the Road Accident Fund levy would increase by eight cents a litre.

Consolidated revenue for 2014/15 was expected to be R1.1trn, and spending R1.25trn.

As usual, the biggest slice of the cake — R253.8bn — would go to education. Of this, basic education was allocated R177.6bn and university education R29.9bn.

Health was allocated R145.7bn, social protection R144.5bn, and housing and community amenities R142.9bn.

Debt service costs swallowed R114.9bn of the general public services budget allocation, with R6.8bn going to home affairs and R7.5bn to international relations and co-operation.

Altogether R115.7bn was allocated to public order and safety, with police getting R78.1bn, correctional services R19.7bn, and justice R17.9bn.

Defence was allocated R47.9bn, and transport R81.6bn. Provision was also made for a contingency reserve of R3bn.

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