Malusi Gigaba
JOHANNESBURG - South African Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said on Wednesday that government would continue to protect spending on core social programmes that benefit poor South Africans.

“Over the next three years, consolidated spending will increase by an annual average of 7.3 percent, from R1.6 trillion in 2017/18 to R1.9 trillion in 2020/21. Community development, learning and culture as well as health are the fastest-growing functions. The student movement has correctly put the issue of higher education at the centre of our transformation agenda”.

“We cannot hope to grow and develop without the skills and intellectual capabilities that our universities and technical training colleges produce,” said Gigaba.

Gigaba said the budget already makes an enormous contribution. The sector’s budget was the fastest growing element of expenditure over the medium term, rising from R77 billion this year, to R97 billion in 2020/21. This includes the provision of financial assistance to subsidize the education of more than 450 000 students every year. But clearly more needs to be done.

The Heher commission of inquiry into higher education and training has delivered its final report to the President and we await the President’s determination and announcement in this regard. Although the fiscal constraints we face are real and binding, we must make every effort to ensure that no academically deserving student is excluded due to financial constraints.

“Further announcements would be made in this regard in the 2018 Budget. The Adjustments Appropriation Bill allows for the revision to the budget tabled in February, as prescribed in the PFMA,” said Gigaba.