Treasury finds R1 billion for drought relief for farmers and consumers

24 February 2016 - 16:52 By Khulekani Magubane

The Treasury reprioritised R1 billion in the national budget to soften the blow of the recent drought on the agriculture sector and consumers‚ Finance Pravin Gordhan told reporters on Wednesday. South Africa has experienced its worst drought in the past 20 years. Five provinces have declared a drought disaster‚ triggering interventions from national government departments.Ahead of the tabling of his budget in Parliament on Wednesday‚ Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan told reporters during a briefing that the R1bn relief would go towards water provision‚ agriculture support‚ as well as the provision of transport and feed for livestock.“The budget’s consolidated spending plans cover various unexpected calls on the fiscus. There is R1bn for immediate work that needs to be done. Minister van Rooyen and Minister Mokonyane will do whatever it takes to ensure that people are not as harshly affected by the drought or inflation in food prices‚” Gordhan said. He was referring to Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des van Rooyen.Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile said the state’s financial institutions had already committed to easing the pressure on commercial farmers experiencing financial difficulty because of the drought.“Farmers have contractual obligations to fulfil at a time when their cash flow is under pressure because of the situation with a range of creditors that they have. It is heartening to know that the Land Bank will support farmers‚” Fuzile said.Interventions to alleviate the effects of the drought will be spearheaded by Mokonyane; Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana; Rural Development and Land Reform Minister Gugile Nkwinti; and Van Rooyen.- The Department of Water and Sanitation will provide R502m for drilling boreholes and the purchase of water tankers. - The Department of Agriculture‚ Forestry and Fisheries will provide R318m in conditional grants for moving cattle and transporting drinking water. - The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will provide R187m for the distribution of animal feed.The new Division of Revenue Bill also proposes provision of a disaster relief grant for operational costs incurred by provinces and municipalities to distribute water.- TMG Digital/BDLive

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