Monthly Archives: November 2016

SOUTH AFRICA RECORDS BIGGEST IMPROVEMENTS IN SCIENCE AND MATHS

Minister of Basic Education Angie Motshekga says the department is very pleased with the consistent improvements achieved by South Africa seen in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS).

This independent study gives an encouraging account of how we measure up in a widely recognized international testing programme aimed largely at assessing whether countries are making progress in education over time, she said when the results of the 2015 study were released here Tuesday.

She said the TIMSS 2015 study revealed a steady upward trajectory of South Africa's education sector among 59 countries covered in TIMSS 2015.The study shows that South Africa has made the biggest improvement of any education system in the world since participating in the study.

TIMSS performance from 2003 to 2015 shows that there was a significant improvement (by South Africa) of 87 points for Mathematics and 90 points for Science, more than for any other country with comparable data," she added.

Our participation in internationally bench-marked studies provides valuable and credible information that can disentangle post-truth politics and affirm the upward trajectory in the sector evidenced by improving Mathematics and Science skills; better schooling conditions; and decreasing inequality in education communities."

She said large-scale assessment programmes such as TIMSS offered a reliable independent measure to monitor the performance of learners in key subject areas in order to assess the health of the education system.

The improved TIMSS scores should also be viewed in context of concentrated efforts and support provided in the senior phase. Historically, this phase has been a challenge for the sector, explained the Minister.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICA’S TAX REVENUE RISE 8.5 PCT TO 1.07 TRILLION RAND

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) and the National Treasury have released the 2015/2016 tax statistics which show that tax revenue collection grew by 8.5 per cent to reach 1.07 trillion Rand (about 76.38 billion US dollars).

Tax revenue collection for 2015/16 amounted to 1,070 billion Rand, growing by 83.7 billion Rand (8.5 per cent) relative to 2014/15, said the Treasury and SARS in a joint statement here Tuesday.

According to the statistics revenue, growth was mainly supported by personal income tax which grew by 35.4 billion Rand. The cost of revenue collection ratio decreased from 0.97 per cent in 2014/15 to 0.96 per cent, well within the international benchmark of 1.0 per cent.

The 2016 tax statistics provide an overview of tax revenue collection and tax return information for the 2011/12 to 2015/16 fiscal years, and the 2012 to 2015 tax years respectively.

The statistics present comprehensive tax revenue data to complement and contextualise economic and demographic data provided by other statistical agencies. The tax statistics also provide valuable insights into socio-economic trends.

The tax statistics also showed that VAT (value added tax) remained the second largest contributor to total tax revenue for 2015/16, totalling 281.1 billion Rand.

At 18.1 per cent of total tax revenues, company income tax (CIT) was the third largest contributor to total tax revenue in 2015/16. Its contribution has decreased significantly, however, from a peak of 26.7 per cent achieved in 2008/09.

About 25 per cent of the 702,395 companies assessed for the 2015 tax year had positive taxable income.

Meanwhile, Import VAT and Customs Duties, South Africa's two biggest trade-related taxes, jointly contributed 197 billion Rand to total tax revenue collected in 2015/16. This is in line with contributions in the years following the global financial crisis, with the exception of a 19.5 per cent peak in 2013/14.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

PRESIDENT REFERS FINANCIAL INTELLIGENCE BILL BACK TO SOUTH AFRICAN ...

President Jacob Zuma has referred the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment (FICA) Bill back to the National Assembly for reconsideration after raising concern with a provision permitting searches without a search warrant.

I have given consideration to the Bill in its entirety and certain submissions regarding the constitutionality of the Bill. After consideration of the Bill and having applied my mind to it, I am of the view that certain provisions of the bill do not pass constitutional muster," the president said.

In terms of section 79 (1) of the Constitution, I have therefore referred the Bill to the National Assembly for reconsideration for the reasons set out to the Speaker of the National Assembly."

The President specifically raised concern with the provisions of the Bill relating to searches without a warrant, which according to him, fall short of the constitutional standard required for the provision not to unjustifiably limit the right to privacy.

The President said he was of the view that even though the purpose to be served by the Bill was very important and pressing, all the provisions of the Bill must be in line with the Constitution.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

UNCTAD COMMENDS SOUTH AFRICA FOR BEING LEADER IN INVESTMENT REFORM

South Africa has been commended for being a leader in investment reform by the Secretary-General of the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), Dr Mukhisa Kutiyi.

Speaking at the Africa Trade Week 2016 currently underway in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Kutiyi praised South Africa for leading the global debate on Investment Policy Reforms. Trade and Industry Minister Rod Davies is leading the South African delegation to the event, which is a new pan-African platform for advancing intra-Africa trade dialogue among mutli-stakeholders.

Dr Kituyi applauded the South African government's decision to announce a sunset clause to its old stock of investment agreements.

Everybody in the developing community knows that the stock of investment agreements which were signed, particularly in the era of structural adjustment, were too unbalanced, promising the investor everything without obligations and tax-payers carrying all the burdens, he said.

This has required renegotiation/rearrangement and for a long time there have been a lot of foot dragging. So the decision of South Africa to announce a sunset clause to the old stock of investment agreements may sound radical and even very risky, but to the developing community it was an act of leadership which has opened doors that now even the majors are agreed that we must start embracing a new framework for investment agreements."

Dr Kituyi stated that South Africa helped to create the movement towards the right direction for global investment policy-making.

South Africa was one of the first countries to initiate investment policy reforms that led to a decision to not renew the first generation/old style bilateral investment treaties that were unbalanced. The agreements provided absolute protection to investors while placing no obligations on them.

These bilateral investment treaties were also not clear on the right of governments to regulate in the public interest. South Africa has since developed domestic legislation that provides protection to both local and foreign investors while reaffirming the right to regulate in the public interest.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

SOUTH AFRICA FORMS NATIONAL EMERGENGY RESPONSE TEAM FOR GENDER-BASED ...

The South African Department of Social Development has launched a National Emergency Response Team (NERT) to provide psycho-social support to victims affected by gender-based violence.

Launched by Deputy Minister of Social Development Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu here Tuesday, the NERT is a mobile service consisting of social workers, psychologists specializing in trauma, as well as a professional sign language interpreter.

Bogopane-Zulu said the team was being deployed through the department's 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre, and provides trauma counselling in the private spaces of survivors.

The team will be the ones who will take full responsibility for early intervention and referral, monitor gender-based violence incidents reported in the media and deploy the team instantly, provide psycho-social support to all affected, debrief the trauma teams follow up and management of cases towards finalization and will facilitate community dialogues where there are high prevalence of reported cases as part of healing and consolidations of interventions as government, she said.

She also announced that the department was also launching an enhanced command centre which would enable hearing-impaired women and children to access the services of the centre. Eight social workers able to communicate with the hearing-impaired are expected to join the centre in December.

We will also be launching and distributing personal alarms (memeza) linked to the command centre and the SAPS (South African Police Service) for when you are unable to make the call, the alarm will make it for you and a response team will be deployed accordingly.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

FIRST BATCH OF SOUTH AFRICAN TOURISM STAFF LEAVES FOR CULTURAL ...

The first group of South African front-line tourism staff to be trained in the Mandarin language has completed the initial phase of training and is heading to China for cultural learning experiences.

The trainees received certificates from Tourism Minister Derek Hanekom at a ceremony held in Johannesburg on Tuesday after attending specialised training from establishments frequented by the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting South Africa.

Modules for reading, writing and speaking, situational role-playing sessions and the three-week visit to China will enable trainees to communicate in Mandarin, which is used by about one billion speakers, mainly in China.

The language training will enhance the experience of our Mandarin-speaking visitors and make their stay in South Africa even more memorable," said Hanekom.

The front-line people will help Mandarin speakers with making arrangements for travel, accommodation and sites to visit. The tourist guides will be able to tell the fascinating stories behind our sites better, the tourists will understand them better and spread the word when they return home."

China is the world's largest outbound market for tourism with more than 128 million Chinese tourists visiting other countries last year. South Africa has enjoyed spectacular growth in arrivals from China this year with the number of arrivals from China between January and August increasing by 64 per cent over the same period last year.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK

Emergency Team to support gender-based violence victims

The Department of Social Development has launched the National Emergency Response Team (NERT) to provide psycho-social support to victims affected by gender-based violence.

Launched by Social Development Deputy Minister Hendrietta Bogopane-Zulu on Tuesday, the NERT is a mobile service that consists of social workers, psychologists specializing in trauma, as well as a professional sign language interpreter.

Deputy Minister Bogopane-Zulu said the team is deployed via the department's 24-hour Gender Based Violence Command Centre, and provides trauma counselling in the private spaces of survivors.

The team will be the ones who will take full responsibility for early intervention and referral, monitor gender based violence incidences reported in the media and deploy the team instantly, provide psycho-social support to all affected, debrief the trauma teams follow up and management of cases towards finalization and will facilitate community dialogues where there are high prevalence of reported cases as part of healing and consolidations of interventions as government, the Deputy Minister explained.

Enhanced command centre

Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister announced that later this month, the department will launch the enhanced command centre that will enable hearing impaired women and children to access the services of the centre.

Eight hearing impaired social workers are expected to join the centre in December.

We will also be launching and distributing personal alarms (memeza) linked to the command centre and SAPS for when you are unable to make the call, the alarm will make it for you and a response team will be deployed accordingly.

The Command Centre is a toll-free line -- 0800 428 428 (0800 GBV GBV) -- with a staff of 48 social workers that provides professional service and can geo-locate callers.

The centre, which receives more than 1 500 calls a day, is managed by qualified social workers.

Callers can also request a social worker from the command centre to contact them by dialling *120*7867# (free) from a cellphone.

Source: South African Government News Agency

SOUTH AFRICA MODERNISING ITS POSTAL NETWORK TO SUPPORT E-COMMERCE

South Africa's Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) are discussing ways to modernise the country's postal network to benefit from e-commerce.

The meeting between the department's Director-General, Robert Nkuna, and UPU Director-General Bishar Hussein here Monday was aimed at ensuring that South Africa emerges with a clear roadmap of how it will work with the UPU to extract the most value from the increasing global trade which is driven by e-commerce activity.

The postal services sector is very important in the successful implementation of the National Integrated ICT Policy White Paper. It is not a stand-alone policy. It is part of the comprehensive policy overhaul to modernise the Information Communication Technology (ICT) sector for the inclusion of all citizens. We are aligned to what the UPU is doing and have referred to it in finalising the White Paper, said Nkuna.

Hussein said one of the envisaged outcomes of his visit was to implement a postal network hub for southern Africa in South Africa, following the approval of an UPU strategy focusing on e-commerce, financial inclusion and postal reform.

Africa is not well represented in the current global e-commerce map. The continent has one billion people who are mostly young and tech savvy. They represent an exciting market. Global postal hubs are an idea whose time has come, but only if they get off the ground, he said.

According to Hussein, the UPU postal strategy was presented and accepted by all the seven regions of the UPU and now the focus was on finalising delivery mechanisms. The UPU is the primary forum for co-operation among postal sector players.

Referring to a proposal to set up a regional hub in South Africa, Hussein said the UPU had identified countries which have good telecommunications infrastructure and sea and air entry points and South Africa was chosen as a starting country in the region and that other countries are welcome to set up their own hubs.

South Africa Post Office (SAPO) Chairperson Dr Simo Lushaba said the UPU proposal was aligned to the turn-around plan for the post office. The proposal gives us mechanisms to implement our turn-around. It also enables small and medium companies to be global players, said Dr Lushaba.

SAPO Chief Executive Mark Barnes said the post office was already seeing an increase in its international mail business with volumes being 20 per cent higher compared with last year.

Source: Nam News Network