R461.1m Afcon spending was ‘cut to bone’

The National Treasury has allocated an extra R461.1 million for South Africa’s hosting of the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) soccer tournament, but no spending will go towards “extravagances”, says Deputy Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene.

Speaking at a media briefing held shortly before the Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan presented his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly yesterday, Nene – who is the chairperson of the tournament’s finance committee – said he had ensured that spending on the tournament had been “cut to the bone”.

Nene said the new soccer stadiums built for the 2010 World Cup had made it easier to finance the tournament.

He said hosting Afcon would be a boon to the country, particularly with the benefit that sport plays in bringing South Africans together.

South Africa – which was only expected to host the tournament in 2017 – agreed to host the tournament next year after the turmoil in Libya, the original 2013 host country.

Of the R461.1 million to be spent on the tournament, R323 million will go to national departments to cover costs associated with hosting the tournament, including security, protocol and migration services.

A further R15 million for health-related costs associated with hosting the tournament will be allocated to provinces and R123.1 million will go to cities to cover the costs associated with hosting the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

Presenting his Medium Term Budget Policy Statement in the National Assembly, Gordhan said for the present year, the February budget provided for an appropriation of R969.4 billion, which will come to R967.5 billion on taking into account changes proposed in the Adjustments Appropriation Bill.

A total of R3 billion that will not be spent in 2012/13 has been declared as savings by national departments, while a further R1.5 billion of balances in 2011/12 will be ploughed back into the fiscus.

The main adjustments that have had to be made this year are for the higher-than-expected salary increases, which amounted to R1.4 billion in national departments and R4 billion in provinces.

Other additional allocations made by the National Treasury include:

* R450 million allocated to rehabilitate the Mthatha airport
* R375 million for community development projects that support environmental management and conversation under the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP)
* R187.7 million for VAT payments for the purchase of the new Antarctic research vessel, the SA Agulhas II
* R118.3 million for contractual penalties incurred by Denel Saab Aerostructures related to the A400M aircraft contracts
* R80.7 million for additional game rangers to combat rhinoceros poaching in the Kruger National Park
* R63 million to deploy vessels and resources in joint anti-piracy operations in the Mozambican Channel

Gordhan said spending on investment in transport infrastructure – which accounts for R80 billion next year – will rise by 8.4% a year over the next three years.

He said spending on rolling stock for rail and signalling infrastructure will increase by nearly 20%.

He said the number of households with access to clean water now stands at over 13 million, more than double the 1994 number.

A total of R234 billion will be spent next year on education, including allocations to culture, sports and education.

“In order to get our children off to the best possible start in life, we will continue to increase funding for the Grade R year and the school infrastructure backlogs programme will be stepped up,” said Gordhan.

The government will spend R132 billion on health care next year, which includes funding for improved diagnostic test for TB, additional allocations for its HIV/Aids programme and continued investment in hospitals and health infrastructure.

A total of R136 billion will be spent on social grants, road accident benefits, unemployment insurance and various social development and welfare services next year, with the number of social grant beneficiaries is expected to rise to 17 million by 2015.

Gordan said the National Treasury had received useful comments from many South Africans on its proposals for promoting household saving and reforming the retirement landscape and broadening social security.

The National Treasury will continue to consult widely in taking the proposals forward. – SAnews.gov.za