Neglect of burial grounds

first_imgDear Editor,The continuing ‘neglect’ of burial grounds has hit the media again. I am personally aware of the condition of several burial grounds, including the ones at Blairmont and Cotton Tree in West Berbice, that are not only forested, but harbour dangerous reptiles and insects, including the deadly African bees. However, I must also acknowledge that there are some very well-kept burial grounds in Guyana. I also recall the fact that when I was working in Bangladesh, I used to go for my morning walks in the beautifully kept cemetery in Dhaka, with its manicured lawns and paved walkways.I believe that well-maintained cremation sites are a better alternative to unkempt burial grounds; they are considerably less difficult to maintain; more easily accessible to women, children and the old & infirm; and are certainly more dignified than what obtains currently.It is in this context that I cordially and humbly invite those who are not yet familiar with the Blairmont Crematorium & Memorial Garden to visit the site (located south of the Blairmont Estate Sugar factory). This facility includes an all-weather access road, a concrete car park for at least 50 cars, a comfortable pavilion that can seat 200 persons, rooms for meditation and prayers, flush-toilet facilities for men and women, a canteen, two pyres etc; all within a beautiful garden setting of flowers and many tall trees, providing additional shade for those who cannot be accommodated in, or do not want to use, the pavilion. The garden setting adds to the serenity and agreeableness of the ambience. Facilities are also available for conducting all relevant religious rites and ceremonies. In the same way that we make certain good, special, and often elaborate provisions to welcome our fellow human beings into this world, let us try to give a similarly good ‘send-off’ to our deceased families and friends!Sincerely,Nowrang Persaudlast_img read more

Tuition Increment Angers UL Students

first_imgStudent Democratic Alliance (STUDA), a campus-based student political organization at the University of Liberia (UL), has expressed outrage over the recent decision of the UL Administration to increase tuition from L$175 to US$5 per credit, or its equivalent of L$440 at the present L$88 exchange rate. UL Administration also further announced an increment in transportation fare from L$15 to L$50.STUDA, represented by its chair, C. Tonia Fahnbulleh and student Emerson S.L. Bordolo, in a statement, described the decision as “unofficial” since it was yet to be sanctioned by UL President, Dr. Emmet A. Dennis, or the vice president for UL Relations, Norris Tweah.Moreover, the students said the decision to increase the tuition is “untimely and unprecedented in that it has never happened in the history of academia in the state-run university.”The students have meanwhile established that the 151 percent increment in tuition fees, and the 333 percent increment in transportation fare are “diametrically impossible and are deviltry to the extreme” and as such, the decision would “suffer an unbending and unwavering intellectual engagement.” “We resent and denounce this decision in the strongest terms in that it is injudicious and unwarranted at this critical juncture of post Ebola Liberia, where the nation’s economy suffers a serious setback,” the students said in a statement, a copy of which is with this newspaper.Moreover, the students said, there are no substantive evidence and convincing tangibles of the past increment starting from L$100 to L$175; a gradual increment which served as “motivational factors for accepting another increment.”According to the students, they are not against increments in tuition and fees especially if done on a gradual scale, “because we are cognizant of the dynamism of life and the economic reality of the day, but what is more important is to provide an ideal learning environment and quality education since that is the mission of the university.”They believe that if the decision to increase tuition at this time becomes official, it will create “mayhem,” and if not meticulously handled it could undermine the country’s peace, especially the closure of the university as the next alternative for the UL Administration.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Germany spent night in stadium after attacks

first_imgThe attacks at several locations in Paris had erupted in the middle of Germany’s away match against France at the Stade de France, with three loud explosions heard from outside the stadium in the first half.It later emerged that one of the explosions was near to a McDonald’s restaurant on the fringes of the restaurant, caused by a suicide bomber.Bierhoff said the team had only learnt of the attacks when they were back in the dressing room, with players receiving text messages from worried family and friends.Nevertheless, Bierhoff said the players “behaved like real professionals”.“We are of course happy that we have landed safely, but our thoughts are with the relatives and the victims,” said Bierhoff, speaking after the team landed in Frankfurt early Saturday.“The team is very affected, and therefore we decided to give them a day off today, for them to go home… and be with their loved ones,” he said.Asked if the team would be ready to play their next fixture against the Dutch on Tuesday, Bierhoff said: “The game stands but we will of course discuss it internally.”0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Police secure the area outside the Stade de France stadium, on the outskirts of Paris. Photo: AFP / Miguel MedinaBERLIN, November 14 – Germany’s football team spent the night at the Stade de France in north Paris after a friendly match against France rather than take the risk of driving through the French capital to their hotel following the attacks that left more than 120 people dead.“The players were very worried, the information was not very clear and we didn’t want to take any risk on the road, so we decided not to drive through Paris …. (which was) not 100 percent secured and so we stayed in the dressing room,” said Germany manager Oliver Bierhoff.last_img read more

Southampton defender signs new deal

first_img1 Southampton defender Jose Fonte Southampton defender Jose Fonte has signed a new deal with the Barclays Premier League club, manager Ronald Koeman has announced.Portuguese defender Fonte, 30, has pledged his future to the St Mary’s outfit and will remain at the south coast club until at least 2017.“We are very happy because we like to keep the good players and the experienced players,” Koeman said.“Jose is the captain for this season on the field. We have another captain of the club – Kelvin Davis – but Jose is the captain on the pitch.“I am very pleased about his new contract, which shows our ambition and the philosophy of the club and I am happy about that.”Saints have lost the services of defenders Luke Shaw, Calum Chambers and Dejan Lovren, strikers Rickie Lambert and Dani Osvaldo and midfielder Adam Lallana this summer.Fonte, however, has chosen to remain, and said: “I’m very excited to be signing this new contract for another three years. This is where I feel at home.“I’ve been very successful at this club so it was an easy decision.“What made me sign was first we signed a very good manager, second, the fans have been great for me – they love me and I have a good relationship with them.“And third we have a lot of quality in the team and we will try to do even better than last season if we can.”last_img read more

Bush tells author of tears

first_imgBy Calvin Woodward THE ASSOCIATED PRESS WASHINGTON – Under that famously self-confident exterior is a president who weeps – a lot. President Bush told the author of a new book on his presidency that “I try not to wear my worries on my sleeve” or show anything less than steadfastness in public, especially in a time of war. White House aides who wanted Rumsfeld out were privately dismayed when retired generals called publicly for his ouster, fearing that would steel Bush’s resolve to keep his defense chief, the book says. Bush, without addressing that meeting, suggested to the author that the ex-generals did get under his skin. “My reaction was, `No military guy is gonna tell a civilian how to react,”‘ he said. Also in the book, Bush: Acknowledged that sectarian violence after the U.S. toppled Saddam Hussein was “something we didn’t spend a lot of time planning for. We planned for what happens if Saddam and his people dug into Baghdad,” and we figured the Iraqi leader was fomenting ethnic divisions that would ease when he was gone. The opposite happened. Said he wants to make money – “replenishing the ol’ coffers” – after his presidency. He said he could make “ridiculous” money on the lecture circuit, citing the experience of his predecessor, Bill Clinton, as well as his own father. Recalled his drinking days and how faith gave him the discipline to stop.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “I fully understand that the enemy watches me, the Iraqis are watching me, the troops watch me, and the people watch me,” he said. Yet, he said, “I do tears.” “I’ve got God’s shoulder to cry on. And I cry a lot. I do a lot of crying in this job. I’ll bet I’ve shed more tears than you can count, as president. I’ll shed some tomorrow.” Bush granted journalist Robert Draper several extended interviews in late 2006 and early 2007, as well as unusual access to his aides, for the book Dead Certain: The Presidency of George W. Bush, which went on sale Tuesday. Draper’s account of the bulk of Bush’s presidency sheds light on a loyal and secretive inner circle that, at least privately, was not always on the same page. Draper tells of an April 2006 dinner at which Bush asked aides for a show of hands on whether his divisive defense secretary, Donald H. Rumsfeld, should be fired. The vote: 7-4 to get rid of him, with Bush siding with those who wanted him kept on for the time being. Rumsfeld was replaced after the elections that fall switched control of the House and Senate to Democrats. last_img

RADIO STATIONS SEEKING CASH INJECTION FROM TAXPAYER

first_imgThe Independent Broadcasters of Ireland has called for the Government’s planned new public broadcasting charge, to replace the TV licence fee, to also fund independent radio stations.It has also demanded sufficient funding from the charge to be made available for RTÉ Radio 1 to allow it operate as a commercial-free full public service broadcaster.The group also wants the regulator, the Broadcasting Authority, to be sufficiently funded from the charge. “Every household has at least one radio and nearly every person has the ability to listen to radio on their mobile phone, laptop, computer, iPad, and so on,” said IBI chairman Scott Williams.“Given the number of radio devices in each home, we believe that the public broadcasting charge (PBC) set out in the Programme for Government and which will be levied on all households, must be used to strengthen and develop all forms of broadcasting in Ireland”.“The TV licence fee has provided an unfair competitive advantage to RTÉ. With more than 1,500 people employed in the sector independent broadcasters make a significant economic, social and cultural contribution to the Irish economy.“The replacement of the licence fee with a new PBC provides a unique opportunity to the Minister for Communications to create a more competitive broadcasting landscape RADIO STATIONS SEEKING CASH INJECTION FROM TAXPAYER was last modified: April 6th, 2011 by gregShare this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Reddit (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pocket (Opens in new window)Click to share on Telegram (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to share on Skype (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Proposed drug rehab facility causes stir

first_img AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson Jim Davis, a former president of the council, said some became scared of what the treatment center could bring to the area, and that only a small percentage supported it. Davis was not involved with the letter. “I think it was a fear factor,” Davis said. “And I think the Scientology scared people, which was sad.” Plans for the property include converting and upgrading 11 existing buildings into three dormitories, kitchen and dining area, classrooms, staff facilities, a 29-vehicle parking lot and swimming pool, according to a Regional Planning Commission’s staff report. The facility, with about 11 employees, would be designed to treat up to 66 adults, whose average stay would be three to four months. Traffic to the area would be minimal from the proposed facility at 36491 Bouquet Canyon Road, according to the report, because clients will not be allowed to have cars. Instead they will be transported by van. In addition, visitors would be discouraged, so as not to interfere with treatment. If the application gets the nod from commissioners, the staff has recommended 10 years of use under the permit. The proposed facility is compatible with zoning for the area on Bouquet Canyon Road and with the permit, according to the staff report. The Narconon program was started in 1966 by William Benitez, an inmate in Arizona State Prison, who applied principles from a book by L. Ron Hubbard to his heroin addiction. Today there are Narconon rehabilitation and education centers around the world, according to the nonprofit’s Web site. The facility is also asking for permission to remove two oak trees from the property. One has fallen down, and the other is decaying and endangers a nearby building. Catherine L. Savage, a Narconon Southern California representative, did not return phone calls for comment. James Bell, a planner with the Regional Planning Commission, referred calls to a supervisor who is out of the office until Wednesday when the hearing takes place. Sue Doyle,(661) 257-5254sue.doyle@dailynews.com 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SAUGUS – A Scientology-based treatment facility hopes to soon open shop on Bouquet Canyon Road to treat adults with drug and alcohol addictions. Representatives from Narconon Southern California are scheduled to appear today before the county’s Regional Planning Commission for a permit to develop the facility on the 30.4-acre site, once home to a children’s boarding school. The Leona Valley Town Council wants the application denied. In a letter sent last month to the commission, the community group cited concerns about the impact the center would have on the environment and local welfare. last_img read more

Man City survive late scare to go five clear in the Premier League table

first_img This is Sane’s sixth goal of the season Latest Premier League News Mahrez’s goal had seemingly put City on course for an easy win Where Ancelotti ranks with every Premier League boss for trophies won huge blow tense Oxlade-Chamberlain suffers another setback as Klopp confirms serious injury Manchester City managed to get through a late Watford fightback to secure a 2-1 win at Vicarage Road and restore their five-point lead at the top of the Premier League.In a game the Citizens dominated, Leroy Sane got the breakthrough goal just before half-time, with Riyad Mahrez making it 2-0 after 51 minutes. 4 Abdoulaye Doucoure bundled the ball over the line with five minutes remaining to ensure a nervy conclusion for Pep Guardiola’s side, but the champions held firm to secure their seventh consecutive Premier League win, and put the pressure firmly back on Liverpool, who travel to Burnley on Wednesday.City’s match at Vicarage Road was their second of 13 in the space of just 44 days, and Guardiola made six changes from the team that won against Bournemouth on Saturday, with top scorer Raheem Sterling dropping to the bench.The changes in personnel however, had little effect on Guardiola’s well-oiled machine, and only the brilliance of Ben Foster ensured City didn’t head into the interval with more than a one-goal advantage.First, Foster denied Sane after 11 minutes. Roberto Pereyra gave the ball away to the super-quick German international who charged down on Foster’s goal. Green reveals how he confronted Sarri after Chelsea’s 6-0 defeat at Man City REVEALED Which teams do the best on Boxing Day in the Premier League era? Boxing Day fixtures: All nine Premier League games live on talkSPORT Son ban confirmed as Tottenham fail with appeal to overturn red card deals Watford had the brilliant Foster to thank for keeping them in the game no dice shining Sane attempted a dink, but Foster stuck out his left glove, and turned the ball away for a corner.Minutes later, Foster was called upon again, producing a fine treble save, first from Mahrez, then smothering Bernado Silva’s effort, before kicking the ball away from the feet of David Silva.It was desperate and heroic in equal measure, and Foster then had to be on alert again to prevent Gabriel Jesus from beating him at his near post.The hosts were firmly on the back foot, but after 32 minutes, a fine save from Ederson denied Troy Deeney. Premier League Team of the Season so far, including Liverpool and Leicester stars City have won all 18 of their games in which they have led at half-time, and Mahrez looked to have made sure of the points six minutes after the interval.Sane, Bernado Silva and Jesus were all involved on City’s left-hand side, with the latter finding Mahrez unmarked, and the former Leicester winger made no mistake with a cool finish.City were in complete control, as the oles rang out from the visiting section on the hour mark.But, to their credit, Watford did not give up, and Doucoure tested Ederson with 15 minutes remaining before scoring in the closing minutes.Ederson saved at the feet of Andre Gray following a cross from Gerard Deulofeu, but Doucoure was on hand to get the ball over the line. Man United transfer news live: Haaland ‘wants a change’, two players off in January 4 Doucoure lobbed the ball over his head to find Deeney, whose side-footed effort was turned away by Ederson.The Brazilian dived the wrong way, but kept the ball out with his legs.Normal order was restored just eight minutes later, however, when Sane made the breakthrough.Mahrez whipped the ball in from City’s right-hand side, and Foster saved from David Silva, but the ball fell to Mahrez again, and this time, the Algerian found Sane at the back post, who chested the ball past Foster, and into the back of the net. 4 REVEALED gameday cracker 4 Doucoure’s late goal breathed new life into the contest Watford went in search of what would have been the most unlikely of equalisers, but it was City who took the three points, and the league leaders will now bid to extend their winning run when they travel to Chelsea on Saturday evening – a game you can listen to live on talkSPORT.last_img read more

Saving albatross, on sea and land

first_imgA black-browed albatross caring for itschick. Albatrosses are attentive parents, with breeding behaviour adapted to empty and safe islands. They therefore have no evolutionary defence against insidious new threats, introduced by people, such as predatory mice. While mice eat their chicks alive, the albatross parents sit by with no sense of their chicks’ plight. (Image: Save the Albatross Campaign) A northern royal albatross in flight near its colony in Taiaroa Head, New Zealand. Albatrosses range over huge areas of ocean, spending over half their lives in flight and regularly circling the globe. (Image: Wikimedia) An infant albatross with deep wounds inflicted by mice. Gough Island in the Southern Atlantic Ocean has a population of some 1-million mice, with devastating effects for the large ocean birds that breed there. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.) A mouse on Gough Island with the remains of its much larger prey, a petrel chick. (Image strictly copyright Ross Wanless. This image may not be republished or redistributed in any way.)Jennifer SternWith a wingspan greater than the height of the tallest man and over half their lives spent in flight over the seas, albatrosses have a special place in the human imagination. But these great birds, evolved to fill a unique evolutionary niche, are under threat from both huge fishing fleets and the smallest of predators.Albatrosses wander the southern seas skimming the ocean rollers for years at a time. They occasionally land on the water to sleep but, it is thought, can actually catch a few winks while flying. No-one knows for sure, but scientists think that on long flights they may, like dolphins, transport themselves using one hemisphere of their brain, while sleeping with the other.On their long flights albatrosses feed on marine carrion, as well as krill and other sea-surface creatures. Their eyesight is good, but not much use for finding food over the featureless ocean – at least not until they’re almost on top of their lunch. They also dip their feet into the sea to test the temperature and somehow use the information to find out whether there’s a meal in the vicinity.Their most effective sense is smell, as most of their food is dead and floating on the surface. Albatrosses fly enormous distances to find small patches of food scattered over a vast area. This may be the remains of a dead whale, a patch of krill associated with upwelling, a plankton bloom, or even a spawning event.Animals such as squid all spawn together over a short period and then, conveniently for the albatrosses, die en masse, floating to the surface. The albatrosses’ food-finding instincts have served the bird well for millennia, but in the last hundred years or so things have changed.Deadly baitThe last century has seen a revolution in commercial fishing. Refrigeration now allows huge fleets to travel far across the sea, catching and processing enormous numbers of fish. The once-empty southern oceans are now densely populated with trawlers and long-line fishing boats. Unfortunately, these almost exactly replicate the feeding conditions of albatrosses, and other sea feeders such as petrels.Long-line boats lay enormously long fishing lines with baited hooks out the back of the vessel. The lines and bait, which is not exactly at its freshest, float on the surface, sending out deliciously attractive olfactory signals to passing albatrosses.The birds fly down and, as they have done for thousands of years, snatch the morsel from the sea surface. But that morsel is attached to a hook, so the bird is snared, dragged behind the boat, and drowned.It’s estimated that long-line fishing kills more than 100 000 albatrosses a year. That’s one every five minutes. Two albatrosses will have been dragged to a cold and lonely death by the time you have finished reading this article.Fishing trawlers are also deadly to the birds. Trawling nets are enormous – about 50m in length and filled with up to 20 tons of fish on a successful drag. As the net surfaces it is pulled to the boat, and the catch comes within reach of albatrosses and other birds – a veritable feast. The birds may survive a nibble or two, but eventually they get tangled in the net, dragged underwater, and drowned.The upshot is that the great bird’s numbers are declining at an alarming rate, with 19 of the 22 species of albatross listed in the Red Data Book, a global compendium of threatened and endangered species of plants and animals, compiled by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources.Safe on land?But it’s not only at sea that albatrosses are threatened. They breed almost exclusively on empty oceanic islands, so they have evolved in an unthreatening environment. They are totally safe in the air and, before commercial fishing, were virtually unthreatened in the water – although they could get nabbed by an opportunistic seal or shark.In 2001 a group of ornithologists spent a year on Gough Island, a cold volcanic island rising from the South Atlantic Ocean at a midpoint between the southern tips of Africa and South America and the northern coast of Antarctica. They made it a priority to find out how well the albatrosses were breeding, given the birds’ severe mortality at sea.The scientists counted the pairs of incubating adults in January and, after hatching, in September counted the surviving chicks. The figures were frightening.Expecting a 60% to 70% breeding success, they were horrified to find it was closer to 30%. More than half the chicks had died. And they had no idea why – although they had a few suspicions.Ross Wanless, a PhD candidate from South Africa’s University of Cape Town, spent a year on Gough from October 2003 to September 2004 to find out what was happening to the chicks. The potential suspects included some kind of disease, poor feeding conditions, the high mortality of adults at sea – causing abandonment of the chicks – or, perhaps, predation by mice.Mice are not indigenous to Gough. Albatrosses evolved to breed on land entirely free of terrestrial predators so, with no natural land enemies, they have no natural land defences. The odd skua may drop in to steal eggs or chicks but the albatrosses could deal with that. They’d see them flying in and, with a good deal of squawking and wing flapping, see them off in a typically avian fashion.For thousands of years there were no mammals – and certainly no humans – on the birds’ breeding islands. But everything changed with the arrival of people.People came with passengers, small companions that had a huge impact on the delicate ecosystems of the southern islands. In 1949 five domestic cats were brought to Marion Island to deal with a mouse problem at the meteorological station. But the cats found burrowing petrels tastier than mice, and their numbers exploded. By 1977 there were 3 400 cats on the island, threatening to drive the birds to extinction. The resulting eradication programme, started in 1982, only managed to remove all cats from Marion by the early 1990s.Gough Island is home to an estimated 1-million mice. Cute, harmless little creatures, one would think.Wanless found otherwise. Like his predecessors, he counted the incubating adult pairs as a basis from which to measure breeding success. But about a month after the chicks had hatched, he began to find bloodied, dead and dying little albatross fluffballs.The mice were, literally, eating the chicks alive, sometimes taking up to a week to finish one off. And all the while the parents would sit there, unaware that their chicks needed help. They had no evolutionary reference for that kind of threat.Save the Albatross CampaignIts lifetime of lonely voyaging makes the albatross resonate in human culture. It’s an agent of karma in Coleridge’s Rime of the Ancient Mariner and, even, material for Monty Python. The opened wings of the great albatrosses are the widest of any bird, extending over 3.4 metres (11 feet) – a span far larger than the height of the tallest man. They are magnificent birds, and something had to be done.The Save the Albatross Campaign (STAC) is an international organisation set up to find ways to end the breeding and feeding threats to the great bird. One of its priorities is vermin control, with the mice of Gough Island soon to go the way of the cats of Marion Island.The campaign also works with the fishing industry to find an answer to the problem of “by-catch” – a euphemism for animals inadvertently killed in the efficient process of commercial fishing.The solutions are win-win because fishing boats actually do want to only catch fish, not albatrosses, which have no commercial value. Stopping albatrosses from taking bait will reduce fishing companies’ wastage, and improve their bottom line. STAC works at the levels of both the big fishing commissions, or Regional Fishing Management Organisations (RFMOs), and individual crews and fishing companies.On the big scale, the campaign’s objective is to get RFMOs to acknowledge the problem, and take action. There has been good progress. The next step is the mandatory inclusion of mitigation measures in long-line and trawling fleets. These would include setting lines at night when albatrosses don’t feed, making the long-line bait sink quickly so the birds can’t get to it, and bird-scaring lines. The last are, in effect, marine scarecrows – long lines with scary, noisy, fluttering streamers set out before the lines or nets are laid. The birds find them terrifying, and keep away.Scaring lines are another win-win part of the campaign. With STAC’s help, previously unemployed people in Ocean View in Cape Town have started small businesses to make the bird-scaring lines. STAC then buys the lines, and gives them to the fishing boats for free.Unlike dolphin-friendly labelling on tuna tins, there is currently no labelling system for albatross-friendly seafood. But if you want to help save the albatross, look out for the logo of the Marine Stewardship Council on any seafood you buy. This organisation certifies responsible fisheries, with bird-friendliness one of its criteria.Do you have queries or comments about this article? Email Mary Alexander at marya@mediaclubsouthafrica.com.Related articlesBoulders penguins’ promised landLooking out for South Africa’s sea life Saving our vulnerable sharksUseful linksSave the Albatross Campaign Birdlife South AfricaInternational Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources Southern African Sustainable Seafood initiativeMarine Stewardship Councillast_img read more

SA in a ‘pleasing position’: Gordhan

first_imgGordhan presented a budget that targets infrastructure development, job creation and skills upgrading while increasing social spending in areas such as health, education, housing and welfare grants.“Strong commodity prices, low interest rates and faster global growth have been the main forces behind our economic recovery,” Gordhan told Parliament. GDP growth of 3.4% in 2011He said South Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth was projected at 3.4% this year, rising to 4.1% in 2012 and 4.4% in 2013, after the economy shrunk by 1.7% in 2009.Consumer inflation is expected to come in at around 5.3% this year, down from 8.9% in 2008.However, unemployment now stands at 24% – 2.2 percentage points higher than at the end of 2008. Government debtNational government net debt is set to rise from R526-billion at the end of 2008/09 to over R1.3-trillion in 2013/14, and a deficit of 5.3% is projected for the 2011 financial year.“The impact of slightly slower growth in revenue and additional expenditures is that the deficit for the next year is half a percentage point of GDP higher than we projected in October,” said Gordhan, hastening to add that the deficit was expected to decline to 3.8% in 2013.“This reduction in the deficit over the next three years is consistent with stabilising the growth in our debt and the conduct of a counter-cyclical fiscal policy,” he said. Lion’s share to social servicesThe 2011 Budget totals R979.3 billion, an increase of 9.1% over last year’s budget.The lion’s share will go to social services, which is to be allocated R577.3-billion (an increase of 11.8%), while R189.5-billion will be spent on education, R121.9-billion on housing, R112.6-billion on health, and R146.9-billion on social security.An additional R39.4-billion will go to pay those in the public service following last year’s wage agreement.Wages to civil servants have doubled over the last five years, from R156-billion to R314-billion, making up 40% of the government’s consolidated non-interest expenditure.In a media briefing before his Budget Speech on Wednesday, Gordhan said the National Treasury was looking to move towards a better fiscal position which would enable the country to save “in the good times”.He said the budget surplus in 2008 had enabled the government to continue spending during the recession.“Where elsewhere in the world today you have all sorts of harsh austerity, we were able to sustain government expenditure across the fronts,” Gordhan said.“We didn’t cut grants, we didn’t cut pensions, we didn’t cut the investments we were making in infrastructure or in education.”Source: BuaNewslast_img read more