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The budget and how it practically affects students

Geoffrey Shein

The 24th of February saw most business owners and traders glued to their seats in anticipation of the budget speech delivered by Minister Pravin Gordhan. This while most students were concerned with their latest tutorial hand in or assignment. Little do we, as students, realise the long reaching effects of the budget. Luckily, Activate has got you covered on exactly how the hour long speech will affect us directly.

In lieu of the #FeesMustFall protest last year, the treasury has recognized the need for funding in tertiary education in significant ways.

  • Government has reprioritised R16.3bn to ensure the 0% fees increase is maintained over the next 3 years. R5.7bn has been used to cover the shortfall experienced by Universities. This will ensure that Universities can function in 2016 at 2015 levels.
  • National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) has received R2.5bn to alleviate outstanding student debt. Additionally, R8bn has been allocated for the continuation of this over the medium term. NSFAS has steadily experienced increased funding over the last 5 years and this has been the biggest increase since its inception in 1991.

On an individual level, students will experience the increases in certain taxes which will confine the already strained student budget.

  • If you have a car on campus, Treasury has adopted a new tyre levy of R2.30/kg to finance government environmental recycling programmes. This is in addition to the fuel levy rising by 30c a litre.
  • Boldly, Min. Pravin Gordhan has implemented a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages in order to reduce the sugar intake of individuals. Which in turn will make the Stoney Kwetsa a little more expensive.
  • The price of plastic bags will rise, in which case you might want to take the bag back to the shop with you.
  • The sin tax will increase from between 6% and 8.5% on various alcoholic beverages and tobacco products. This will make the adult cold drink a little more expensive at your local watering hole.

The Budget Speech was conservative at best, however, commendation must be given to Min. Pravin Gordhan for effectively finding alternate methods of raising revenue for the country other than raising normal income tax for middle to low income groups. These increases allow for investment in ventures such as the possibility of free tertiary education. So while we bear the brunt of the increase in our day to day living, consider the fact that your money might be paying for your classmate’s education.

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