VOL. NO: 55      DATE:
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S. Africa has first budget surplus

UNEXPECTEDLY high tax revenues allowed South African Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to announce increased spending and the country's first budget surplus.

In his 2007 budget, Mr Manuel increased spending on housing, education and health and announced plans for a new social security system.

The finance minister had a "Tips for Trevor" programme before the budget, encouraging people to send him ideas. He said the overwhelming message was that an assault on poverty was needed.

He announced big increases in spending on education, housing and sanitation. Increased prosperity He also unveiled plans to introduce an earnings-related social security scheme to provide unemployment insurance, disability and death benefits and old age pensions.

The new benefits will be funded by a social security tax. The high tax revenues are a result of increased prosperity, high commodity prices, a wider tax base and a campaign to clamp down on tax avoidance.

That has helped create a budget surplus of almost 11 billion rand ($1.5bn; 790m). The budget included provision for 17.4 billion rand ($2.4bn; 1.3bn) to be spent on the 2010 World Cup soccer tournament.


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