BP’s workforce gets down and dirty for charity

first_img Comments are closed. Managersfrom BP’s employee engagement team swapped the office for the great outdoorslast week, getting their hands dirty in the name of charity. Eight managershelped build a miniature river at Lavender Pond Nature Park in London as partof a conservation initiative for children. The Green Team Event was organisedby the British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, and the site will now be usedas an educational resource by local organisations. Ramilla Shah, head ofcommunity affairs and staff engagement at BP, said the scheme had helped buildmorale as well as developing a worthwhile resource for the community. “Itwas a chance to do something constructive and get to know colleagues on a moreinformal basis,” she said. Related posts:No related photos. Previous Article Next Article BP’s workforce gets down and dirty for charityOn 11 Nov 2003 in Personnel Todaylast_img read more

Indiana has a lack of school nurses ready for the coming school year

first_img Facebook By Tommie Lee – June 29, 2020 0 449 Google+ There’s concern that some schools around Indiana planning to reopen this fall will be without a full-time nurse.The lack of nurses predates the COVID-19 pandemic, but the presence of the virus has made the lack of nurses an obvious concern. Indiana Chalkbeat reports that the state only requires each district have at least one nurse, even if that means they cover multiple buildings.Some advocates say many districts in the state don’t meet the nationally recommended ratio of one nurse for every 750 students. More than 1,100 nurses were reportedly working in 400 districts and charter schools in the state last year. Twitter Google+ WhatsApp Twitter Facebook Pinterest Pinterest Indiana has a lack of school nurses ready for the coming school year CoronavirusIndianaLocalNewsSouth Bend Market WhatsApp Previous articleFace mask ordinance extended until September 7 in St. Joseph CountyNext articleSouth Bend Cubs to host movie night July 10th Tommie Leelast_img read more

PRS Guitars Introduces New John Mayer Silver Sky Signature Model Electric Guitar

first_imgThe gloss-finished, solid alder body guitar sports a 25.5″ scale maple neck with 22-fret, 7.25″ radius rosewood fretboard, and Mayer’s signature single-coil pickups. As the guitar’s product description on Musician’s Friend notes:More than two and half years in the making, the Silver Sky is a vintage-inspired instrument that is at once familiar but also newly PRS through and through. This model was based off of Mayer and Smith’s favorite elements from 1963 and 1964 vintage instruments, resulting in an idealized version of a vintage single-coil guitar. The attention that was paid to every detail sets this guitar apart.Some of the more distinctive specifications include the headstock shape, tuners, neck and fretboard, bridge, and pickups and electronics. The headstock shape is based on PRS’s trademark design, but inverted to both accommodate Mayer’s playing style and also to keep a consistent length of string behind the nut, which makes staying in tune easier. The tuners are a traditional vintage-style, closed-back tuner, but with PRS’s locking design. The neck shape was modeled after 1963/1964 vintage instruments, and the fretboard has a 7.25” radius. The moment your hand grabs this neck, it just feels right.Like the tuners, the steel tremolo takes a classic design and incorporates PRS’s trem arm and Gen III knife-edge screws. The bridge on the Silver Sky is setup flush to the body in the neutral position so that the tremolo bridge only goes down in pitch. By keeping the bridge in contact with the body, the guitar itself is acoustically louder, which improves the signal to noise ratio of the single-coil pickups. The 635JM single-coil pickups are very round and full, with a musical high end that is never “ice-picky” or brash.Other high-quality specifications include a bone nut, a molded metal jack plate that is curved and makes plugging and unplugging a guitar cable hassle-free, retooled knobs, fretwire that is slightly smaller than what you’d find on most PRS electric guitars, and PRS’s double action truss rod (accessible from the front of the headstock for ease of use).Of course, even those with a cursory knowledge of guitars will notice the PRS John Mayer Silver Sky’s resemblance to Fender‘s iconic Stratocaster. Mayer has played a Strat throughout most of his career, and in the early 2000s, he partnered with Fender to make his own John Mayer Signature Stratocaster Series, released in 2005.As Reverb explains, The John Mayer Signature series became a mainstay of the Fender Artist series lineup. Many customers particularly praised the “Big Dipper” single-coil pickups that came standard with the Mayer model Strats, as they sold for a premium on their own.However, Mayer had a falling-out with Fender in 2014 due to his perception that the quality of their products had declined. In a pair of tweets, he explained,Heads up to anyone thinking about owning my signature Fender Stratocaster, they’re no longer being made and I’m no longer a Fender artist. … I love Fender guitars and will continue to play them, but the fact is that the company as it is today isn’t the same one I started with.Mayer gave the world an early taste of his custom PRS build during his solo tour stop in Boston last spring. You can see/hear Mayer in action on his new PRS model below:John Mayer – “Moving On and Getting Over” – 4/9/17[Video: Matt Frazier]The PRS John Mayer Silver Sky is available now in Onyx (black), Tungsten (silver), Horizon (red), and Frost (white) finishes. You can purchase one here. John Mayer and Paul Reed Smith have officially released the “PRS John Mayer Silver Sky” for public consumption. The new custom-model electric guitar is the result of an extensive collaboration process between the multiple Grammy-winning solo artist/Dead & Company guitarist and the renowned master luthier.last_img read more

Roberto Martinez glad Everton could control John Stones saga

first_imgEverton manager Roberto Martinez is keen to consign the John Stones transfer saga to history and insists the impending visit of Chelsea has no extra significance.Last month the Stamford Bridge side made three unsuccessful bids, the last upwards of £30million, which prompted the England defender to hand in a transfer request.However, Everton stood firm and held on to the 21-year-old, and Martinez expects the youngster to approach Saturday’s Barclays Premier League match with the same professionalism he has always shown.Asked whether his relationship with Jose Mourinho was affected by the summer’s dealings, Martinez said: “Nothing changes. “It is part of the rules. In the transfer window you are allowed to make enquiries and offers for players.””It gives you a bigger feeling of control when you can decide what to do with those attempts.””John has gone from strength to strength in a period of high pressure and has used it in the right way, taking the support of everyone at the club and has performed with incredible maturity and composure.” “The way he went away and performed for England in a very natural manner shows the calibre of player we have.”Reports have suggested Stones, who has four years remaining on his existing deal, wants to negotiate a new contract with a buy-out clause in the region of £37million inserted. But Martinez gave that speculation short shrift.”I thought that when the transfer window was over we would be able to concentrate on the games and that is the only thing I am focusing on,” added the Catalan, who joked he had been singing the ‘Can’t Buy Me Stones’ song – to the tune of The Beatles’ Can’t Buy Me Love – in the shower.”Any story or any backlash still from the transfer window I am not going to entertain.” “Our interest is to look after every player who represents the club, they need understanding and we are going to look after the human being as well as we look after the footballer and in this case we have shown that is what we have done.” “Our best interest is to continue developing John to allow him to be a very important footballer for us.””We will do that with every single player in the club.”While the return of players from international duty has not brought any additional injury problems, Martinez has been able to put a timescale on the absence of midfielder Tom Cleverley, who injured his ankle at Tottenham at the end of last month.”The scans revealed it was no fracture and it was only ligament damage and although it will be a long period it is not as bad as feared,” said the manager.”It is hard to tell how long he will be out. With ligament damage you could expect six to eight weeks but knowing how strong and fit Tom is we’re looking at six weeks.” –Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img read more

Top 10 worst postseason days in Bay Area sports history

first_imgIn the perfect scenario for Bay Area sports fans, both the Warriors and Sharks will come away with crucial playoff victories Wednesday night.But what if the unthinkable happens? What if the Rockets grab a 3-2 series lead, and the Avalanche eliminate the Sharks while leaving broken hearts strewn throughout the Bay Area?It would be a level of sports misery we haven’t seen around here since … well, Monday night.When James Harden led Houston past the Warriors in Game 4 Monday, followed by the …last_img read more

The full speech: South Africa’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement 2015

first_imgFinance Minister Nhlanhla Nene introduced the National Treasury’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to a joint sitting of Parliament on Wednesday 21 October. Read and download the speech.South African Minister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene (Image: GCIS)• Download the speech2015Medium Term Budget Policy Statement SpeechMinister of Finance Nhlanhla Nene21 October 2015Honourable SpeakerMister PresidentDeputy PresidentCabinet Colleagues and Deputy MinistersGovernor of the Reserve BankMECs for FinanceHonourable MembersFellow South AfricansIt is my privilege to present the 2015 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, together with the Adjustments Appropriation Bill and the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill for 2015/16.Honourable Members, global economic growth has slowed. Commodity prices remain depressed and unemployment has increased in many parts of the world.Growth is considerably lower in our economy than we projected in February. This is in part a consequence of the global slowdown, but it also reflects our energy constraint and structural weaknesses in our economy.In these challenging circumstances, we have had to revise our revenue estimates down for the period ahead. The MTBPS outlines the tough choices we have to make, and challenges us to implement the National Development Plan with vigour.Without stronger economic growth, the revenue trend will remain muted. If revenue does not grow, expenditure increases cannot be sustained.Growth and economic transformationOver the past decade, there has been substantial progress in our social and economic transformation.Minister Radebe recently released the latest Development Indicators Report.• It shows that South Africa’s life expectancy increased from 52 years in 2004 to 61 in 2014.• Infant mortality dropped from 58 to 34 deaths per 1000 live births between 2002 and 2014.• Over this period, the number of households living in formal dwellings increased from approximately 8 million to 12.4 million.• The share of households with basic access to electricity increased from 77 per cent to 86 per cent.• Access to water increased from 80 to 86 per cent and access to sanitation increased from 62 to 79 per cent.• The proportion of 5 year-old children attending early childhood development facilities has more than doubled to 87 per cent, and adult literacy has increased to 84 per cent.The Development Indicators also signal several important long-term trends in our social and economic structure. These include:• The movement of people from rural areas and small towns to cities, and the changes in lifestyle and living standards that are associated with that;• The rising use of public transport and urban amenities;• The increasing demand for education, use of social media and access to the internet;• The growing importance of service industries and tourism, and the growth of our economic links with Africa and the global economy.In reflecting on our transformation challenges, Honourable Members, it is clear that a new growth path is needed if we are to unleash the development potential of these structural trends.• Building houses is not enough: we have to re-shape our cities to create integrated and productive living environments.• Our education and training capacity is not enough: we have to invest in quality improvements and meet new skills requirements.• Our levels of investment are not enough: we have to modernise technology and compete effectively in the global economy.• Our present retirement and insurance arrangements are not enough: we need a more comprehensive approach to social security.• And we also know that growth is not enough: investments in health, nutrition and basic living conditions are key contributors to poverty reduction, social mobility and lower inequality.These are large themes, Honourable Members. I should refrain from trespassing on territories that are supervised by Cabinet colleagues. My point is that the proposals in our medium term budget projections are only the more quantifiable instruments of our transformation. There are deeper and more profound currents. It is in the quality of our services, and the integrity of our engagements, that we have the most powerful levers of social change.Quality and integrity cannot be assured, as we know, by laws or ideological precepts, by sanctions or emotional appeals. They derive from dedication, commitment and shared values.I have in mind, Honourable Speaker, the two phakisa consultative laboratories currently under way or about to begin. One is focused on basic schooling, and the other on the mining sector. One is looking at the role of technology in the classroom, the other at modernising industrial methods and systems.But the important conversations in these laboratories are not about computer programmes or mechanical tools. They are about our children, and how we value their future. They are about men and women who work in arduous conditions and on whose productivity we all rely. The important conversations are about commitment and inter-dependence, about our trust in an inclusive social contract to make the future better.When times are tough, as they are now, it is that much more important that we strengthen the partnerships that put our children first; partnerships that signal our commitment to decent work, that open up participation in our economy and that broaden access to land, skills, finance and development opportunities.If we do not achieve growth, revenue will not increase. If revenue does not increase, expenditure cannot be expanded.Mister President, you have called on your Cabinet to review and give impetus to our growth strategy. In government, in business, in unions and in civic formations; all of us have a part to play in building a more prosperous, sustainable future.Economic outlookThe MTBPS projection is that the South African economy will grow at about 1.5 per cent this year, rising marginally to 1.7 per cent next year. This is considerably lower than at the time of the February budget, when we envisaged 2 per cent this year and 2.4 per cent in 2016. The IMF also projects a decline in growth next year.• Electricity supply constraints, falling commodity prices and lower confidence levels have resulted in our growth forecasts being revised lower.• Investment growth will be just 1.2 per cent this year. Limited employment growth and household income constraints are holding back consumption.• Exports have grown strongly this year, a welcome recovery after setbacks in mining and manufacturing last year. Although exports have grown faster than imports since 2012, the current account deficit on the balance of payments is still a sizeable 4.1 per cent of GDP this year.• Consumer price inflation has declined from 6.1 per cent in 2014 to a projected 4.8 per cent this year. Higher food prices and the weakening of the rand are expected to contribute to a rebound in inflation to around 6 per cent a year over the period ahead.Financial market volatility is high and capital inflows into emerging markets have slowed. This has raised borrowing rates for emerging markets globally.In addressing our barriers to growth, Honourable Speaker, there is progress on several fronts.Though there is still a long way to go in building energy security, we are now benefiting from Eskom’s enhanced maintenance efforts and our expanding renewable energy programme. The first unit of Medupi also came online, adding 800 MW of capacity to the grid. Minister Joemat-Pettersson has invited proposals for independent coal and gas power projects. The National Treasury is working with the Department of Energy to assess proposals and financing options for building additional nuclear power capacity.Rail capacity continues to expand, alongside road, water and telecommunications networks. Increased investment in broadband was one of the main reasons for South Africa’s improved ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report to 49th place out of 140 countries.Amicable settlements have been reached this year in the coal and private security industries, and for the majority of gold workers. The CCMA has become increasingly proactive in settling labour disputes thanks to changes in the Labour Relations Act. NEDLAC is working on practical ways to avoid protracted and disruptive strikes, while also considering proposals for a national minimum wage.Our Employment Tax Incentive (ETI) for young work-seekers continues to attract broad participation. Total claims for the incentive have amounted to R3.9 billion since the start of the programme, up to the end of July 2015. It has been claimed by over 36 000 employers, for over 250 000 workers. There has been active debate around its impact. The ETI will be carefully assessed in due course, recognising that all programmes and incentives should be evidence-based and continuously evaluated. This will complement research by the Davis Committee on the role of incentives in the corporate tax system.Honourable Members, bold action is needed. Restoring the momentum of growth requires policy certainty, confidence and trust, shared between government, business, workers and households.Regional and international cooperationHonourable Speaker, strengthening our engagement with Africa and the wider Southern Africa region is a critical element in our growth and development strategy.Regional integration means practical collaboration in building infrastructure, investment promotion and growing trade linkages.In order to fast-track key projects, we have introduced a Project Preparation and Development Facility for the SADC, managed by the Development Bank of Southern Africa.Feasibility studies have recently been approved for a project to improve South Africa and Zimbabwe’s access to Mozambique’s hydro power capacity, and a major rail project to link Zambia, Angola and the DRC.South Africa continues to use its membership of the G20 to support international cooperation in lifting growth and reducing global inequality. We welcome the detailed and wide-ranging commitments made by the global community in the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the next fifteen years, and the related agreement on Financing for Development.Also to be welcomed is the package of measures that has been agreed this year to counter corporate profit shifting and base erosion. South Africa has already committed to automatic exchange of financial information for tax purposes. The first exchange took place last month. Over 90 countries have committed to exchanging information by 2018, including several low-tax jurisdictions. Soon, tax evasion and aggressive tax planning will have nowhere to hide.In July this year, the agreement between Brazil, Russia China, India and South Africa to establish a New Development Bank reached fruition. We will shortly respond to the NDB’s opening invitation for project proposals. A special appropriation will be tabled this year to provide for the first tranche of our capital commitment to the NDB. This R2 billion investment will be covered by proceeds from the sale of government’s stake in Vodacom.Revenue trends and tax reformHonourable Speaker, I have already indicated that our revenue estimates are adjusted down in this MTBPS, as a result of the slowdown in economic activity. Gross tax revenue is revised down by R7.6 billion this year, and by R35 billion over the three-year period.Revenue has nonetheless held up well since the 2008/09 recession. This signals both the resilience of our tax policy framework and continued strength of tax administration.Fellow South Africans, tax compliance lies at the heart of nation building and social cohesion. Without a buoyant revenue base, a nation cannot develop and succeed.Allow me therefore to express my appreciation to all those, whether in the Revenue Service or on the other side of this social contract, who ensure that taxes are paid, in full, on time.Over the medium term, we will continue to explore reforms that promote an efficient and progressive tax system. Recommendations of the Davis Tax Committee already under consideration cover:• profit shifting and the misuse of transfer pricing,• mining taxation,• small business taxation,• VAT and the estate duty.I have asked for further advice on wealth taxes. The committee has published an instructive report on the role the tax system in supporting inclusive growth, employment, equity and fiscal sustainability.Allow me to urge all stakeholders to take the opportunity to comment on these reports, so that the final recommendations are well informed and thoroughly debated.There will be a further opportunity to debate the proposed design of a carbon tax, when the draft bill is published for comment later this month. This forms part of a package of measures which Minister Molewa will take to the United Nations Climate Change Conference later this year. This package is intended to ensure that South Africa makes a fair contribution to global efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.Fiscal policy and the budget frameworkHonourable Members, our central fiscal objective over the period ahead is to stabilise debt as a share of GDP.In the immediate aftermath of the 2008 recession, the budget deficit widened sharply to support our economic recovery. The deficit has since narrowed and is expected to be 3.8 per cent of GDP this year, falling to 3 per cent over the medium term.• Following the recession, government debt increased from around 26 per cent of GDP to 47 per cent in March this year.• Our projection is that debt will rise by a further R600 billion over the next three years, while stabilising as a percentage of GDP.In support of our long-term fiscal framework, the MTBPS proposes a fiscal guideline for the expenditure ceiling in the outer year of the fiscal framework. The proposal is that the spending ceiling should be linked to South Africa’s long-term economic growth projections.Over the long term, the guideline maintains spending as a stable share of national income. A structural change in expenditure would have to be accompanied by corresponding revenue measures.Without economic growth, revenue will not increase. Without revenue growth, expenditure cannot increase.As we have done since 2012, Honourable Members, the overall expenditure limit in the MTEF remains in place. If further steps are needed to protect the public finances, we will take them. We are staying the course.The main change in the fiscal framework by comparison with the February budget arises from this year’s settlement of salary adjustments and benefits of public servants. The agreement provides for additional costs of 10.1 per cent this year, and improvements that will be at least two percentage points higher than consumer inflation in the next two years.The shortfall in compensation budgets is accommodated in the expenditure framework largely by drawing down on the contingency reserve. Nonetheless, departments will need to reallocate spending from other priorities. For the period ahead, the improvement in compensation means that there is no room for expanding government employment.This is not a sustainable situation. We recognise the need to improve the negotiating process and reform public sector remuneration.Work is also underway to develop better approaches to capital project appraisal and the financing of major infrastructure investments, either as departmental initiatives or where these are undertaken by state-owned companies, municipalities or independent investors. Well-informed selection of projects is a key step in enhancing the productivity of infrastructure services.The introduction of Socio Economic Impact Assessments will also assist in improving coordination of government’s policy choices and identifying unintended consequences earlier in the process of developing regulations and legislation.In moderating the budget deficit and stabilising government debt, we are mindful that Eskom, Transnet and several other state-owned companies have large borrowing requirements. Infrastructure investment by our cities, larger municipalities and water utilities also requires access to the capital markets.Honourable Members, financing of state-owned companies that are responsible for growth-enhancing infrastructure investments is one thing. Relief for entities that should be self-sustaining or that have mismanaged their commercial activities is quite another. This remains a serious risk to the medium term fiscal outlook. Work has therefore begun on a legislative framework to regulate state-owned companies and to address their governance challenges.Division of revenueThe main budget is the largest part of the consolidated fiscal framework. Over the MTEF:• National departments are allocated around 47½ per cent of the main budget,• Provinces just over 43 per cent, and• Municipalities about 9 per cent.As we know, provinces account for 70 per cent of all public service employees. They therefore have to make substantial adjustments to accommodate the increased cost of the wage agreement. To assist with the adjustments, R3.8 billion is added to the provincial equitable share this year and a further R49 billion over the MTEF. However, this will not fully fund the shortfalls. Provinces will have to seek further cost-efficiencies in order to maintain service levels.Provinces have already taken steps to contain costs. Personnel numbers have declined by about 2 per cent since 2012, including a reduction of over 10 000 since the start of this financial year. Provincial spending has been reduced on non-essential goods and services, like advertising, travel and consultants.Other initiatives to improve government efficiency are bearing fruit. Health departments, for example, have improved supply chain management procedures to reduce wastage in medicines and laboratory costs. In addition, a number of provincial public entities have been rationalised to reduce duplication of work.Budget allocations to municipalities continue to prioritise the roll-out of basic services to historically disadvantaged areas. This has led to millions more households having clean water, a safe toilet, and lights to switch on in the evening.However, these services have come under stress in some areas because of poor maintenance or weak operations. While continuing to extend services where they are not provided, attention has to be given to the reliability and functionality of municipal infrastructure services.Allocations to local government continue to grow faster than the national and provincial shares. This reflects the priority placed on the basic services delivered by municipalities. Over the 2016 MTEF, allocations to municipalities amount to R351 billion, growing at an average of 8.2 per cent a year. This includes provision for free basic services, eradication of infrastructure backlogs and institutional capacity-building.National Treasury has led a review of municipal infrastructure funding arrangements, with a view to promoting better management and maintenance of assets. Reforms to be implemented in 2016 include rationalising grants to reduce unnecessary administrative overlaps and improving responsiveness to social and economic needs of citizens.The development needs of our cities demand that we not just rely on government funds but also bring private investors on board. In August this year, Minister Gordhan and I co-hosted an Urban Investment Partnership Conference that brought together cities and private investors to explore options to increase municipal infrastructure investment. In support of this, the Development Bank of Southern Africa is expanding its longer term financing of infrastructure.We have a clear responsibility to ensure that the fragmented, racially segregated cities we inherited become dynamic, integrated sites of enterprise and improved living conditions for all.Medium term expenditure frameworkHonourable President, the key priorities of your administration remain at the centre of our medium term expenditure plans.Education and skills development account for the largest share of spending. Health services, social protection, infrastructure investment and support for job creation are also prioritised.Government spending is set to grow at 7.2 per cent a year over the medium term, remaining above inflation. The allocations we are proposing today are guided by the 2014-2019 medium-term strategic framework and its 14 outcomes.Government proposes to allocate R313 billion to capital spending and housing over the MTEF period, with about R165 billion allocated for community infrastructure. Another R229 billion will be transferred to municipalities for infrastructure projects.Our social assistance grant programme is central to the relief of poverty and vulnerability. Approximately 16.7 million South Africans receive social grants currently. With effect from this month, the old-age, war veterans, disability and care dependency grants are increased by R10, to bring the annual increase in line with long-term inflation. Over the three-year period ahead, nearly R13 billion will be added to social assistance budgets.Additions to health expenditure will further strengthen our response to HIV and AIDS and scale-up interventions to address TB. Health budgets are set to grow by 8.3 per cent a year between 2015/16 and 2018/19.New resources will also be allocated to improve primary health care. Under Minister Motsoaledi’s guidance, National Health Insurance will be phased in, drawing on the lessons of the district pilot projects.To enhance basic education, provision of learner and teacher support materials is prioritised, including workbooks to over 10 million learners each year. Basic education allocations over the MTEF increase by 8.2 per cent a year. Funds are allocated to enable early childhood development programmes to enrol a further 127 000 learners.Honourable Members, we have been reminded this past week of the challenges of financing the expansion of further education and university opportunities. It needs to be said that disruption of learning is not constructive. But Minister Nzimande has rightly indicated the need to strengthen student financing further, and to find solutions where current arrangements are inadequate.Allocations to public employment programmes over the next three years amount to R37 billion. This will allow the Expanded Public Works Programme to create about 6 million short-term jobs. By 2017, the Community Work Programme will exist in every municipality.Support for enterprise development over the MTEF period includes R24 billion in tax incentives and R16 billion in direct funding to support industrialisation. These initiatives include the Manufacturing Competitiveness Enhancement Programme and the Automotive Production and Development Programme. Special economic zones will receive continued funding, including new zones in the Free State and Gauteng. A review is proposed to assess the impact of fiscal incentives on economic growth, productivity, competitiveness, the balance of trade and employment.Over the next three years, the South African Police Service will strengthen its public-order policing capabilities and address training gaps, including those identified by the Marikana Commission of Enquiry. The South African Human Rights Commission, the Public Protector and the office of the Chief Justice receives additional allocations to address capacity challenges.Substantial additional allocations are proposed for national and provincial roads. These include a fiscal contribution for the Gauteng Freeway Improvement Project to compensate for the reduced user charge dispensation, half of which will be recovered from the province.Our development approach includes a strong focus on building partnerships with the private sector to boost inclusive growth and job creation in South Africa’s cities. Government will continue to support municipal planning and implementation of urban development projects that catalyse spatial change. These include the Cornubia and Warwick Junction projects in eThekwini, the Sleeper-site development in Buffalo City and redevelopment of Athlone power station in Cape Town.A revised capacity building initiative, aligned to the Back to Basics strategy, will be targeted at municipalities in 27 priority rural districts. Grants to rural areas continue to support municipalities to eradicate backlogs in access to services, increase mobility and create opportunities to grow local economies.The 2016 Budget will provide assistance to municipalities that will be merged after the 2016 local government elections, for the administrative costs involved. Let me take this opportunity to remind councillors and officials that we expect financially responsible budgeting and expenditure management during the run-up to elections. Guidance in this regard will be issued by National Treasury.In all of these initiatives, Honourable Members, the quality and integrity of governance are critical elements in achieving the outcomes we seek. As this year’s winner of the Nobel Prize for Economics, Professor Angus Deaton, puts it:“The absence of state capacity, that is, of the services and protections that people in rich countries take for granted, is one of the major causes of poverty and inequality around the world. Without effective states working with active and involved citizens, there is little chance for the growth that is needed to abolish global poverty.” Adjustments Appropriation: 2015/16Honourable Speaker, alongside the MTBPS, I am tabling the Adjustments Appropriation for 2015/16 today.The salary adjustment of R1.2 billion for national departments and R3.8 billion for provinces is the main revision to the expenditure estimates for this year.Other significant adjustments are as follows:• R720 million for the Department of International Relations and Cooperation to compensate for the depreciation of the rand;• R1.2 billion in spending financed out of monies paid into the National Revenue Fund from departmental activities;• R1.6 billion in rollovers from unspent balances in 2014/15, including delayed payments to municipalities which had unresolved utility arrears;• R1.1 billion in additional transfers of skills levy revenue to sector education and training authorities and the National Skills Fund.Details are provided in the Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure.Two substantial allocations that were not provided for in the main Budget in February are dealt with in special appropriations. The first is the R23 billion allocation to Eskom, already enacted by the House. The second is a R2 billion allocation for the New Development Bank. These have been financed through the sale of Government’s shareholding in Vodacom.After taking into account revised revenue estimates, the expenditure adjustments and projected savings, the main budget deficit for 2015/16 is R176.3 billion. When taking into account the balances of social security funds, public entities and provinces, the projected consolidated budget deficit is 3.8 per cent of GDP, which is slightly less than the February estimate.Supply chain management reformIn the February Budget speech, I emphasized the urgent need for improved efficiencies and effectiveness in public procurement. I indicated that the modernisation of supply chain management would target better use of technology.Since then, much has been achieved:• Government’s eTender portal has been established, providing a single point of entry to business opportunities with government. This enhances transparency and reduces the time and cost of accessing tender documents.• A Central Supplier Database is operational, easing the administrative burden for business and government alike. More than 20 000 suppliers have registered and a total of 9 500 have been verified since 1 September 2015. I urge suppliers to register before 31 March 2016. The database provides information on commodity suppliers by locality, right down to municipal ward level.• The transversal contract for Learner Teacher Support Material has been completed. The highest contract price is for Grade R stationery at R115, inclusive of packaging and delivery. The cost for other grades is below R100.• This month, we launched a buying site for high volume–low value items, similar in design to commercial e-commerce sites. Supply Chain Management practitioners can now purchase routine items through the web, at www.gCommerce.gov.za.• A consolidated Procurement Bill is being developed to rationalise the more-than 80 legal instruments, guidelines and instruction notes that currently apply.• A framework has been developed to standardise public procurement reporting, supported by a training programme for responsible officials.Further enhancements that support SMMEs in the area of electronic bids, quotations and technologies will be implemented in 2016/17. Tender documents will be made user-friendly and easy to comprehend. The number of documents needed for a tender will be reduced and they will be customised to reflect the diversity of procurement processes. Buying a filing cabinet is different from hiring an advisor, or building a school, yet our present systems do not reflect these differences adequately.Public procurement is big business. The South African public sector spends over R500 billion a year on the procurement of goods and services. Making better use of technology is important, but it is not enough. Reform of supply chain management will remain a central priority, to generate short and medium term savings, but more importantly to bring value for money, and to combat corruption.Implementation of cost containment measuresIn December 2013, the National Treasury issued an Instruction on cost containment measures relating to consultants, travel and subsistence, entertainment, catering and events.We are now in a position to report on the impact of this reform. Across all national and provincial departments, in the first year, a 3 per cent decrease was achieved in spending on consultants, a 6 per cent decrease in travel and subsistence and a 47 per cent decrease in catering, entertainment and events expenditure.Preliminary budget data indicate that there will be further reductions in these categories of spending over the MTEF period, contributing both to value for money and improved public service delivery.We recognise that there is not yet full compliance with these measures. The Treasury is currently revising the Cost Containment Instruction to review thresholds and clarify its implementation, especially on expenditure related to conferences.Financial sector reform and promoting investmentHonourable Members, improving the quality of financial services is a key element in our strategy for inclusive growth. Weaknesses in financial supervision played a central role in the severity of the 2008 recession and its aftermath.The Bill to give effect to the Twin Peaks regulatory system has now been certified by the State Law Advisors, and I will table it next week. We have engaged with the industry and other stakeholders on the draft framework for market conduct, to ensure that customers of the financial sector are treated fairly, and that charges are reduced and made more transparent. I also propose to table the Insurance Bill before the end of the year.We have made progress in promoting savings by households, through the introduction this year of tax-free savings products. In collaboration with Minister Dlamini and Minister Oliphant, work on social security reform proposals is at an advanced stage, to accompany retirement reform. I need to emphasise the importance of providing suitable vehicles for preservation of savings and conversion into income in retirement, alongside appropriate death and disability benefits. We are engaging with labour to ensure that members of provident funds enjoy the full benefit of tax deductions for savings plans that provide an assured income in retirement. I hope that these proposals will be prioritised for discussion in NEDLAC over the period ahead.In addition to promoting domestic savings, South Africa needs to attract substantial flows of foreign funding to ensure that investment growth can be financed. It is clearly vital that we maintain a framework of policies and programmes consistent with this requirement.Under your leadership, Mister President, and guided by our newly appointed National Planning Commission, we seek to simplify and streamline regulatory procedures for investment and ensure both policy coherence and encouragement of long-term investment and international partnerships. The Treasury’s work on modernising the management of capital flows, and encouraging companies to locate in South Africa as a gateway to the rest of Africa, supports this aim.Without economic growth, revenue will not increase. Without revenue growth, expenditure cannot increase.ConclusionHonourable Speaker, it is apparent that slower growth and volatility will remain features of the world economy for some time to come.In the framework set out in the 2015 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, Government has adapted to this turbulent environment, through measures to maintain the health of the public finances and support the social and economic transformation South Africa needs.• To strengthen economic performance, our commitment is to bring policy coherence and certainty where it is lacking; to give greater impetus to infrastructure investment and to address impediments that hold back enterprise development, employment and innovation.• To build the energy capacity, water and transport networks and communication systems we need, we are expanding investments by state-owned companies and the private sector, alongside departmental and municipal initiatives.• To ensure that public debt remains affordable, the public expenditure ceiling is maintained while protecting our flagship social and economic programmes.• To improve living standards and accelerate social development, we are working with municipalities to strengthen planning and concentrate investment in urban hubs and economic growth zones. More dynamic cities, new businesses, trade opportunities and better transport systems also mean stronger linkages with smaller towns and market opportunities for agriculture and rural enterprises.• To enhance state capacity and the quality and integrity of governance, our financial management and procurement reforms will be reinforced, while stepping up public sector training and institutional renewal.• To unite South Africans behind more rapid implementation of the National Development Plan, we are working with the business sector, organised labour and social stakeholders to maintain a stable labour relations environment, improve confidence and promote broad-based development.In conclusion, I wish to thank President Zuma and Deputy President Ramaphosa for their guidance and leadership, and all Cabinet colleagues for their understanding of the challenges we confront.The Ministers’ Committee on the Budget has energetically engaged with the issues. Deputy Minister Jonas has been cheerful even in the toughest discussions, and the MECs for Finance share diligently in the work of overseeing our public finances.Special thanks also to Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, SARS Commissioner Tom Moyane, Governor Lesetja Kganyago at the Reserve Bank, the boards and executive heads of our development finance institutions and the Financial and Fiscal Commission and Financial Services Board.I greatly value the support of NEDLAC and its constituency representatives, and the chairs of the Standing and Select Committees on Finance and Appropriations, Honourable Yunus Carrim, Charel de Beer, Paul Mashatile and Seiso Mohai.I am indebted to Director-General Lungisa Fuzile and the staff of the National Treasury and the Ministry for their tireless efforts.The support of my family is an incalculable blessing.Mister President, we are pursuing a new growth path to expand participation and adapt to the changing realities of the global landscape. As in the past, though times are tough, we can create a better future, working together. Within an affordable medium term expenditure framework, we will build a more prosperous and equal South Africa – sustaining progress, even in a low-growth world.As we achieve more rapid growth, our revenue outlook will improve. As revenue increases, our expenditure on public service delivery will grow.I hereby table for consideration by the House:• The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement,• The Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure,• The Adjustments Appropriation Bill, and• The Division of Revenue Amendment Bill.I thank you.last_img read more

Downing family tree full of apple growers

first_imgShare Facebook Twitter Google + LinkedIn Pinterest When comparing apples to apples, sometimes it is best to consult an expert. For many folks near New Madison in Darke County the expert is Scott Downing, a seventh generation orchardist, at Downing Fruit Farm where the apples and cider produced from their own signature varieties are arguably second to none.Downing Fruit Farm dates back to 1838 when John Downing and his family left South Carolina. They discovered spring water at the farm’s current location where John, who was already an orchardist, began to plant apple trees. As the current owner, Scott knows he is carrying on the 177-year-old legacy and takes great pride in maintaining the high standards and strong work ethic required to produce the highest quality crop possible each year.“I want people to come to the farm because they want to get the best quality product that they can buy; because they know if they drive out here, they’re going home with the best,” Scott said.Fresh apples and apple products comprise 80% of the business with a full crop of around 10,000 bushels of apples each year in more than 70 different varieties. The farm also features a full lineup of seasonal fresh produce including five acres of melons and 20 acres of sweet corn as well as peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, blackberries and more.Many apple varieties grown on the farm are unique to the orchard as they have been developed over the years by the Downing family themselves.“It’s just like kids and parents, you have the same parents and every kid is going to be different, it’s the same with apples,” Scott said. “It’s a lot of cross pollination, Downingland — our most popular variety — is a cross between a Golden Delicious and a Rome Beauty. My great uncle developed that. He went through over 1,000 of the exact same cross pollination until he came up with one he liked.”Some varieties have been developed for specific purposes, such as the Pink Sugar variety to help sweeten the award-winning cider, which sells more than 1,000 gallons a week during peak months of the season.“We won’t make cider unless we have at least seven varieties. At times there are 30 varieties in our cider, or we’ll add some pear into it sometimes. No two batches are exactly the same,” Scott said. “Our cider is good because our apples are perfect. They’re just the smaller or don’t have a lot of color. Once we grade them, the Grade A apples go on the sales floor and anything else goes into cider.”A majority of all product sales are retail, either straight off the farm or from one of the four farmers markets Downing Fruit Farm visits. A small portion of apples is sold wholesale to local grocery stores, the local school cafeteria and Miami University.“When I was growing up, 70% of our business was at the farm. People would come out on their Sunday drives, buy five bushels of apples, take them home and make pies and applesauce and preserve them,” Scott said. “Now, it’s hard to get them to come out to the farm without doing some kind of entertainment. Now it’s probably the opposite and only 25% of our business is done on the farm and 75% is sold at farmers markets, grocery, and wholesale.”Most of the customers come from within 100 miles of the farm — near the Ohio and Indiana state line — with others traveling from Columbus or Indianapolis. With limited marketing, most business is based on reputation and driven by word of mouth recommendation. One year, with most of the Midwest apple crop freezing out, the farm had customers from as far away as Wisconsin.The cold is just one peril that can threaten a delicate apple crop and apple producers must monitor weather conditions and other environmental factors closely to prevent disease, fungus and pests.“The hardest part is trying to stay on top of the spray program. You don’t just stick a tree inSome apples used during the holidays have special stickers placed on them while ripening on the tree to block the light and provide a personalized message when harvested.the ground and end up with a beautiful apple, it requires a lot of knowledge about what pest or fungus you have and what conditions will breed that pest or fungus,” he said.He also noted that the excessive rains made things more difficult this year as they fell during full bloom and right after bloom causing the trees to remain wet and more susceptible to fungus.“I was out there spraying in the rain, between rains, midnight, three o’clock in the morning, whenever I had the opportunity to get a cover on,” Scott said. “I’m a preventative spray guy, instead of waiting until I have a problem and going in with the strongest chemicals, I go in there and keep cover on it. A lot of those covers are organic. I use a lot of sulfur, as long as I can keep that on it keeps things from adhering to the fruit or to the leaves. It’s when you get those heavy rains that keep washing it off that you have a problem.”At Downing Fruit Farm they will not spray when the bees are flying as a preventative measure for the 25 hives they have, and need, to pollinate the apples. While it may make for some late nights and early mornings, the hives have remained a healthy and essential part of the farm.Even with the best preventative measures, the weather is still a wild card for apple growers. About nine years ago a hailstorm left cosmetic blemishes on a vast majority of the apples causing them to be graded out for cider. And while Downing Fruit Farm Cider is a best seller, it is only half as profitable as selling the apples.To make up for lost apple sales, Scott ordered a slushy machine and requested a spot at the Darke County Fair. That was the first year in what has become a tradition of apple cider slushies and caramel apples being sold at local fairs and festivals throughout the season as well as on the farm at their annual harvest days in early October.During Harvest days, and most anytime throughout the year, customers are invited to explore the orchard and enjoy a walk through the more than 2,500 fruit trees. Ranging in size from dwarfs to standard root stocks — with the oldest producing tree around 80-years-old — the trees are planted strategically throughout the property to capitalize on the natural air flow patterns that will allow the trees to withstand a few degrees lower temperatures and dry out faster after rains to prevent fungus.“Every year a lot of diseases will sit on the leaf of a tree and when the tree loses its leaves, the inoculate remains. The next year, when the degree days are right and the rain hits those leaves it sends the spores up into the tree,” Scott said. “So we rake everything out into windrows and leave it. If it gets cold in the spring we’ll burn that and keep the fruit alive and if it doesn’t we’ll push it all into a big pile and burn it. That alone has done wonders inThe orchard is a family affair with Scott (left) and his wife Rachelle (right) working together and getting their three daughters — Maddie (pictured in middle), Allie and Meghan — involved as the eighth generation of Downings.helping prevent disease.”Beyond disease and weather, the apple industry — like much of production agriculture — faces additional challenges from legislation.“When I was growing up, after school it was my job to follow the crew and pick up the apples that had fallen off the tree when they picked. We used the good ones for cider, which was common practice until an orchard in another state failed to follow guidelines and now we’re required to leave dropped apples on the ground,” he said. “Dropped apples can sometimes make up 20% of our crop, or very easily $30,000 worth of cider, which some years could make or break a business like this.”A smaller orchard compared to industry leading states, Downing Fruit Farm offers a unique product from a historic family farm where they still do things a little more old-fashioned and customer-focused.“Our business is unique for its history and there are very few orchards that have their own varieties like we do. We’re also known for our cider, which is by far the best,” Scott said. “A lot of our success is because we are focused on getting better at what we do and just producing the best product we can.”last_img read more

NCP chief meets rain-hit farmers, CM assures support

first_imgWhile the new Legislative Assembly is yet to be formed, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) has already taken an aggressive stand and demanded that the government compensate farmers for the losses due to heavy rain in the State. NCP chief Sharad Pawar on Friday visited Nashik district to review crop loss. “The farmers said they have suffered heavy losses and are faced with the question whether to live or die. They said no one from the government has approached them,” Mr. Pawar said. The NCP chief will also visit other parts of the State.In a series of tweets, Mr. Pawar said the criteria used to provide compensation are two to three years old. “We expect the government to take a firm position on providing relief to farmers. If it fails to do so, we will have to take a stern stand,” he said. The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) faced flak from ally Shiv Sena too. In an editorial in its mouthpiece Saamana, the Sena said farmers who have suffered crop loss should be provided adequate compensation without any conditions. “The farmers are awaiting immediate assistance and not a new government,” the editorial said. Taking a dig at the BJP, it said, “Instead of standing by farmers, efforts are focused on garnering support for government formation.” Meanwhile, under pressure from all quarters, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis said on Friday the government has taken a serious view of the crop loss suffered by farmers, and assured to seek help from the Centre. He said the Chief Secretary is monitoring the situation.A Cabinet sub-committee will meet on Saturday to discuss the matter, he said. Mr Fadnavis has asked guardian ministers of the affected districts to visit the rain-hit areas. He said the initial evaluation shows damage to crops on 54.22 lakh hectare spread across 325 talukas in half a dozen districts. The damaged crops include jawar, paddy, cotton and soybean.last_img read more

ISL: Delhi Dynamos beat Chennaiyin FC for first win of season

first_imgDelhi Dynamos finally registered their first win of the Indian Super League this season when they beat struggling Chennaiyin FC 3-1 on Saturday.Daniel Lahlimpuia (16th minute), Bikramjit Singh (78th) and Nandhakumar Sekar (82nd) scored a goal each to give Delhi full points.Coach Josep Gombau made multiple changes to his side as goalkeeper Francisco Dorronsoro, captain Pritam Kotal and forward Lahlimpuia were amongst the six players to come into the starting XI, while hosts Chennaiyin FC made three changes to their side.The hosts started the game strongly as first Salom and then Mailson came close to scoring the opener but impressive saves from Dorronsoro kept Chennaiyin at bay.It was against the run of play though that Dynamos scored the opening goal. Mihelic found Nandhakumar and the winger’s cross from the right was met by a glancing header from Daniel to score his first ever Indian Super League goal.With five minutes to go for the first half, the hosts grabbed the equaliser. Sajid Dhot bought down Salom inside the box and the referee awarded the hosts a penalty, which was calmly slotted in by Raphael Augusto.It was Dynamos though who started the second half on the front foot as back-to-back corners handed them a chance to score, but the hosts resolute defending kept the scoreline on level terms.Bikramjit Singh had the best chance of the second half for the visitors but his curling effort from 20 yards went over the crossbar.It was the former Chennaiyin midfielder though who put Delhi in front again as he finished a wonderful counter attacking move started by substitute Andrija Kaluderovic.advertisementThree minutes later Dynamos added their third goal as local boy Nandha added the cherry on the top to hand Dynamos their first win of the season.After the win, Dynamos surpassed Chennaiyin to take the 9th spot in the league table.(With inputs from PTI)last_img read more