The annual budget speech always brings news of the country’s finances. Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni said on Wednesday, the largest spending areas will be learning and culture, which receives R396 billion followed by health R230 billion, and social development with R310 billion.

“In the education sector, investment goes to new schools, replacing schools constructed with inappropriate materials, and providing them with water, electricity and sanitation,” Parliament heard, as the minister tabled his 2020 national budget speech.

The speech intends to give details of how the priorities set out by President Cyril Ramaphosa during his state of the nation address (Sona) would be funded.

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers the annual Parliamentary speech. File Photo.

It further unpacks how the funds would be allocated to the different spheres of government, departments and state entities.

In 2020/21, he said, the maths, science and technology grant will introduce coding and robotics to learners in grades R to three as announced by Ramaphosa.

Mboweni said that transfers to provinces support schooling for 13 million children and healthcare for 49.1 million South Africans. It is in this context that taking forward consultation on the National Health Insurance (NHI) is important.

In his weekly letter, Ramaphosa had urged South Africans to rally behind the government’s drive for NHI,  promising that the government would not be reckless with the implementation of the Bill in the next five years. 

He said it was “unfair and unjust” that access to decent healthcare still hinged on a person’s ability to pay.

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni arrives in Parliament to deliver his budget speech. PHOTO: Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

The NHI Bill, which is currently being processed by Parliament is the government’s policy for achieving universal health coverage, and aims to ensure people have care that is free at the point of delivery. 

President Ramaphosa has been elected chairperson of the African Union, Mboweni continued. “We shall commence work on the Pan African University for Space Sciences Institute at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology. Funding can come from the Africa Renaissance Fund.”

He said the department of higher education and training will reallocate existing funds to undertake a feasibility study for the establishment of a new university of science and innovation in Ekurhuleni.