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National Budget Reviewed During Discussions at UKZN

2017/03/10 10:59:46 AM

The School of Accounting, Economics and Finance’s Macroeconomics Working Group (MWG) hosted a Post budget debate to enable participants to share views on the 2017 National Budget.

Participants at the Post Budget debate at UKZN.

Winning the annual Ellie Newman Moot Court competition, beating 320 participants by showcasing outstanding legal skills, is a sure sign that fourth-year Law student Mr Elisha Kunene is equipped for success in the legal profession.

Kunene competed in the Moot final - hosted by the School of Law in Durban - alongside finalists Ms Jolene Thompson, Mr Andile Mabaso and Mr Connor Alexander.

The finalists displayed their legal prowess in front of judges, Law School academics Professor Karthy Govender, Ms Lindiwe Maqutu, Professor Tanya Woker and Mr Vishal Surbun as well as family and friends.

A highlight at the final was third-year Law student Mr Andile Mcineka being awarded the Yunus Mohammed Public Interest Law Award by Madam Justice Dhaya Pillay for his article: “Winnie Getting the Short End of the Stick”, which was published in The Sunday Tribune.

The award recognises Mcineka’s valuable contribution to knowledge in the field of public law.

‘There was depth in his argument; he drew on judgments in a coherent manner; it was a pleasure interacting with him…’ these were some of the comments made by the judges on Kunene’s performance before his announcement as the winner which was greeted with resounding applause and a standing ovation from the audience.

‘Winning the Ellie Newman award means the world to me. It’s literally a dream come true. My time in ‘varsity has been quite difficult in a number of ways but I was determined to finish strongly and I sort of viewed this year as a rebuilding period,’ says Kunene.

‘Earlier in the year a good friend of mine and I won the Southern African National Debating Championships and I ranked first in the country. So I really feel like God is with me on this winning streak.’

The great debater who used his skills to coach school debating teams to generate funds for his university tuition got academic merit scholarships from UKZN for his first and second year. However, monetary challenges nearly saw Kunene being financially excluded in his second year.

‘In a remarkable turn of events I was able to stay and complete my studies thanks to a generous intervention by Norton Rose Fulbright. The firm and I parted ways this year but I will always be grateful to them and to everyone else who have contributed to keeping me going,’ he said.

Looking to the future, Kunene said: ‘I have been granted the great privilege of being accepted to clerk for Justice Raymond Zondo at the Constitutional Court next year.’  His long-term plans include becoming an advocate.

Thandiwe Jumo
The School of Accounting, Economics and Finance’s Macroeconomics Working Group (MWG) hosted a Post budget debate to enable participants to share views on the 2017 National Budget.

Academic and Economist Mr Ayanda Meyiwa delivered a presentation titled: “On the Country’s Vision, the State of the Nation and the National Budget 2017”, while UKZN’s Academic Leader, Taxation, Dr Suren Pillay, gave an overview of the tax implications.

Meyiwa’s talk focused on the growth of the country’s economy and factors that hinder it such as inequality, poverty and unemployment.

‘The growth of our economy is dependent less on people applying for jobs and more on looking at entrepreneurship as a source of job creation,’ he said. ‘This involves investing in education and skills development. The fact that debt is increasing is a worrying factor as it will take years for South Africa to recover and reach the targets set by the National Development Plan.’

Sugar tax, a proposed VAT increase and the fuel levy were among topics covered by Pillay.

‘The tax side does not look very good for us as we have a large deficit and SARS targets have been increasing every year,’ said Pillay. ‘It is probably not surprising that a new tax bracket has been introduced making our tax system more progressive. VAT is a big contributor to tax and would be good for our deficit but hard on the consumer as it will mean they have to pay more.’

MWG founder and the School’s Academic Leader for Higher Degrees and Research, Dr Harold Ngalawa, said debates such as these were vital because the Budget was of national interest and everyone needed know how it affected them.

‘As academics, we need to sit down and share our knowledge on topical issues of national importance such as the national budget,’ he said.

‘My personal opinion is that the Budget was flat and void of a vision to take the country out of its persistently poor economic performance.

‘It was perfect as an accounting exercise aimed at seeing government and the country through another year but it failed to provide hope that the fiscal authorities have solid plans to grow the country, create jobs, fight inflation and stabilise the economy generally.’

Thandiwe Jumo

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