Commenting on the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan's, 2014 Budget Speech, the president of NAPTOSA, Mr Basil Manuel said that whilst the budget speech was cautious NAPTOSA welcomed several aspects highlighted by the Minister.

NAPTOSA RESPONSE TO BUDGET SPEECH BY THE MINISTER OF FINANCE, MR PRAVIN GORDHAN, ON 26 FEBRUARY 2014

 

Commenting on the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan's, 2014 Budget Speech, the president of NAPTOSA, Mr Basil Manuel said that whilst the budget speech was cautious NAPTOSA welcomed several aspects highlighted by the Minister.

 

NAPTOSA supports the National Development Plan (NDP) and is mindful that the NDP reflects the priorities underpinning the 2014 budget, to prepare for the next phase of the South African economic and social transformation. NAPTOSA welcomed the NDP initiatives to establish a growth path, especially the renewed focus on accountability and quality in Education.

 

NAPTOSA also welcomed the increase in the allocation of funds for infrastructure improvement across the sectors and the eradication of school infrastructure backlogs. NAPTOSA was pleased with the Minister's announcement that four hundred and thirty three schools would be rebuilt.  NAPTOSA, however, lamented that no special recognition was given to infrastructure backlogs such as water and sanitation which impacted adversely on the dignity of children and educators. “These issues can no longer be put on the back burner”.

 

NAPTOSA applauded the increase in the allocation to the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) for FET bursaries and the Funza Lushaka bursary scheme, however NAPTOSA cautioned that ONLY deserving students be allocated these bursaries. It was time for government to reap returns on its Funza Lushaka bursary scheme investment by ensuring that more than fifty percent of a cohort completed the programme and received placements.

 

The professionalization of the public service highlighted by the Minister was something that NAPTOSA had long called for. As a trade union in education, NAPTOSA believes that educators do not receive the recognition they deserve as professionals, both in terms of their contribution to society and their remuneration. NAPTOSA is concerned that despite a collective agreement and the appointment of a Presidential Remuneration Review Commission that was supposed to prioritise the remuneration of educators, there has been no movement on the matter.

 

The Minister’s reference to “a fully funded government employee pension fund” being one of the pillars supporting public sector sustainability, as well as government's intention to address “wasteful expenditure” in the Public Service, was applauded by NAPTOSA. NAPTOSA was also encouraged to see that measures would be put in place to address “invalid grant recipients”.

 

In conclusion, NAPTOSA welcomed the Minister’s approach to reprioritise resources to programmes with the greatest developmental impact. The importance of education for the growth, development and future of our country is highlighted daily in government and other societal circles. NAPTOSA waits to see how Education as a sector would benefit from the reprioritisation exercise.