Daily Archives: February 24, 2017

TAX SYSTEM MUST BE “REDISTRIBUTIVE”, SAYS SOUTH AFRICAN FINANCE MINISTER

CAPE TOWN, South African Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan says the country’s tax system has to be “redistributive” in character if the country is to usher in radical socio-economic transformation.

The Minister said this during a dialogue with captains of industry, school children and members of the public at a post-Budget breakfast briefing here Thursday, following his presentation of the 2017 Budget in Parliament on Wednesday.

Noting the the mixed response to the National Treasury’s decision to introduce a new tax bracket of 45 per cent for those with a taxable income of above 1.5 million Rand (about 114,400 US dollars), he said: “There has been a lot of commentary on the 45%, some of it misdirected regrettably, (with some saying) it will affect the black middle class and some of them calling for a corporate tax increase.

“I think we must forget about black and white, if you are middle class and you live in a democracy; we have a progressive tax system and you pay your fair share of tax as South Africans so that we can develop a fiscal capacity to do things that we have to do. Where transformation comes in, it is to ensure that our tax system is redistributive.”

Responding to a question why the National Treasury did not increase the value added tax (VAT) instead of increasing the burden on personal income tax, Gordhan said increasing VAT could have an unintended negative impact on the poor.

“VAT is a regressive tax, meaning it actually has a negative effect on the poor. Secondly, VAT is also being considered by the Davis Tax Panel that was set up … in 2013 by Judge Davis to look at all our tax and see what’s appropriate in the current environment,” he added.

“Thirdly, we must start having a conversation around VAT as it is a sensitive matter because of its potential impact on poor people. But it is on the table so they started talking. So if you say increase it, is it by one per cent or two per cent, if you are saying you are going to protect the poor, what will be the zero-rated items? What will be the exemptions?”

The Minister said any increase in VAT should not be brought up as a surprise, but that it should be part of a social process.

Gordhan also said that while the government would do everything possible to create an environment which enhanced business confidence, the private sector had a bigger role to play in creating employment.

“Business is in the business of making money at the end of the day and we will push them as much as we can to have a social conscience, to contribute to the transformation process in South Africa,” he said.

“The real answer about business investing is you need to join us on a charm offensive, say this is your country, we need to make it work. Jobs are not created by government, government can do so much to create conditions, provide services, provide money for public employment programmes and support all sorts of ventures by small businesses or even larger businesses.”

He said 70 per cent of the country’s economy is in private hands and they are the ones who are able to create jobs.

He added that it was crucial for the country to produce highly skilled graduates in order to have a brighter future.

“It is absolutely crucial for our future that we have highly skilled young people coming out of our higher education system, who will become excellent entrepreneurs, innovators, engage in research and development and take our economy to a completely new level,” he said.

“And part of that economic transformation is radically changing the structure of the economy. It is not just about where the money goes, it is radically changing the structure of the economy so we can grow faster, grow more inclusively and give more South Africans, particularly the marginalised, opportunities that they have never had before.”

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area expands its conservation area

The Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area Trilateral Ministerial Committee Meeting was held in Maputo on 24 February 2017 to take stock of the progress and endorse the further implementation of the activities in the GLTP as coordinated through the Joint Management Board comprising the three partner countries of Mozambique, South Africa and Zimbabwe.

The Ministers noted the incorporation of the Greater Libombos Conservancy (GLC) as an addition to the GLTFCA which is a crucial development for the enhancement of the implementation of the International Treaty establishing the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park and Conservation Area. The Ministers resolved that the process for the formalisation of this incorporation between the countries must be finalised by the Governments of Mozambique and South Africa.

We, the GLTP Trilateral Ministerial Committee, hereby declare the following:

Conservation and Protection:

Reaffirm the implementation of the wildlife translocation programme for the GLTFCA and the continuation of the restocking of species into key protected areas in the Mozambiican component of the GLTFCA.

Approve the rollout of the joint operations protocol in all three countries and further interaction with the Joint Permanent Commission on Defence and Security in relation to combatting wildlife crime.

Direct the JMB to develop the joint ongoing research programme across the elements of the treaty.

Tourism

Note progress on tourism development and the need to further interact with Ministers responsible for immigration and borderline control to further facilitate cross border tourism initiatives.

Institutional Reform

Note progress made with the institutional reform strategy including the creation of joint park management committees between the various components of the GLTFCA.

Marketing Communications and Information Sharing

Note progress on the communication and marketing strategy which creates awareness and markets the tourism offerings and opportunities within the GLTFCA and the further expansion thereof.

Endorse the implementation of the youth programme and direct the JMB to facilitate the rollout across the three countries.

Community Beneficiation

Endorse the Integrated Livelihoods Diversification Strategy aimed at creating tangible benefits to the communities living in, and adjacent to, the TFCA.

Further packaging of opportunities in order to broaden the participation of local entrepreneurs as well as broad-based empowerment and development.

Joint Training and Capacity Building

Note the role of targeted training and skills development for the sustainability of the GLTFCA programmes and initiatives and direct to expand the training programme across the three countries.

GLTP Financial Sustainability

Direct the JMB to develop a financial sustainability strategy for the GLTP.

In addition to the above, Mozambique will be launching an international conference on conservation and the protection of wildlife.

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs

Directive issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs to address environmental impacts associated with operations at Interwaste’s FG landfill site

The Green Scorpions from the national Department of Environmental Affairs initiated an investigation at the FG landfill site during February 2016. This process resulted in a criminal investigation where a number of samples and documents were seized. In addition, investigations by the Green Scorpions had to be undertaken at night and during the early hours of the morning when the malodour is at its most intense, as experienced by the residents in the area. This investigation has been completed and the docket was referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions to make a decision on whether or not to pursue a prosecution.

As the criminal investigation was unfolding, the Department further resorted to instituting an administrative enforcement process with the intent to compel Interwaste to undertake a number of specialist studies which, amongst others, sought to quantify the risk of the emissions emanating from the site and the impact thereof on the residents in the vicinity of the FG landfill site. This administrative process commenced in February 2016 and was followed by a number of interactions between the Department and Interwaste which resulted in certain commitments by Interwaste. At the same time Interwaste, as an immediate intervention to ameliorate the emissions from the FG landfill site, installed a 2000m� flare which was proposed at the time to be the solution for this undesirable situation.

Complaints nonetheless were still being reported on an ongoing basis and having noted that not all of the commitments were being implemented by Interwaste, a fresh notice of intent requesting Interwaste to make further representations was issued in October 2016.

Considering the representations that were put forward by the company, particularly the commitments made in the October 2016 representations, the Department decided to issue Interwaste with a final Directive dated 10 February 2017. The Department instructed Interwaste to, amongst others, cease with all disposal activities at the FG landfill site within 5 (five) working days from receipt of the Directive as well as to undertake certain specialist studies and submit specific information to the Department within specific timeframes.

Interwaste thereafter brought an urgent application against the Directive that was issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs in the South Gauteng High court on Friday, 17 February 2017,to suspend the operation of the directive pending finalisation of the appeal.

In the meantime, the Greater Midstream Forum lodged an application with the Minister of Environmental Affairs for an order not to suspend the operation of the directive pending the outcome of the appeal. Interwaste has been afforded until the 28th of February 2017 to respond to the application by the Greater Midstream Forum.

Interwaste have also withdrawn their urgent application in the South Gauteng High Court. In turn, the Department have undertaken not to enforce the directive until such time as the Minister has made a decision on the application by the Greater Midstream Forum.

Source: Department of Environmental Affairs

IN DROUGHT-HIT SOUTH AFRICA, RECENT RAIN BRINGS RELIEF, BUT ALSO FLOOD HAVOC

PRETORIA, While the recent rains have brought much relief to drought-hit South Africa but substantially increasing water levels at dams, the flooding the rains bring has caused havoc in parts of the country.

The Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) has issued a comprehensive list of safety tips for the public, should they find themselves facing floods.

“Sadly, we have received unconfirmed reports of fatalities within Northern Cape and North West provinces as a result of flooding,” Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen said Thursday.

“Members of the public must take note that it does take a while for water to move down the rivers so flooding may occur even in areas where there is no rain, hence community members must be cautious at all times,” the department said.

The South African Weather Service says more rain is expected in many parts of the country. Communities under threat or are exposed to flooding risks are urged to move to higher ground when flash flood warnings are issued.

“At this stage, our teams across the country are on alert. They are able to cope with the situation and they will do everything possible to assist communities. However, we urge everyone to be extremely vigilant and cautious so that we can save lives,” Cogta said.

The National Disaster Management Centre (NDMC) is in contact with provincial and local disaster management centres on the ground to monitor the situation and give support.

Meanwhile, the North West Province Disaster Management Centre is on high alert as the province and the rest of the country experience continuous heavy rains.

The Member of the provincial Executive Council in charge of Local Government and Human Settlements, Galaletsang Gaolaolwe, has dispatched a team of officials to various areas to assess the extent of the damage caused by recent heavy rains.

Gaolaolwe said the department had established a joint operation centre comprising representatives from district disaster management centres and all sector departments.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK