South Africa – Military Veterans Press Statement on Education Support

Military Veterans Press Statement on Education Support:

As the DMV matures and builds its capacity to roll out the 11 benefits listed in the Military Veterans Act, there is a serious constraint in our budget allocation. There is a massive increase in the demand for benefits from military veterans as a result of the increasing capacity of the department and its engagement with military veterans.

The increase in demand for benefits has resulted in a serious budget shortfall for DMV as from the previous financial year. The further budget cuts announced by National Treasury in December 2017, of 5% in the case of DMV, further increased this shortfall.

To ensure that all deserving military veterans continue to receive support from DMV, the department had to adjust its available budget through a re-prioritisation process.

On 17 January 2018 the Minister and Deputy Minister of Defence & Military Veterans, held a consultation with the South African National Military Veterans Association (SANMVA) and its affiliate associations to explain financial pressures facing the DMV and to solicit buy in and support for the proposals of the department.

The DMV in the last academic year provided an education support benefit to 7712 military veterans and their dependants. For this academic year the number of applicants has increased to 11600, with about 4000 new applicants. This increase means that the department needed to take immediate steps to ensure that the available resources are spread amongst all qualifying and deserving applicants.

The following are the steps that the department is taking:

For Basic Education Support

  1. For new applications for the 2018 academic year, the maximum benefit will be R20 000 per leaner per annum. This is to ensure that in spite of budgetary constraints, all military veterans and their beneficiaries who qualify are provided with this important benefit.
  1. For continuing learners the threshold will remain at R42 500 in 2018, however in 2019 the maximum amount will be R20 000 for all learners in basic education.

For Higher Education Support

  1. The Department is obligated and commits to provide all continuing military veterans and their dependants studying at higher education institutions (both public and private) with education support, subject to them meeting the DMV qualifying criteria.
  1. In line with statement of the President of the RSA, the honourable JG Zuma on the 16 December 2017 with regard to the provision of free education to poor and working class students, DMV will engage with the Department of Higher Education and Training and NSFAS to ensure that continuing students studying in public higher education institutions who meet the criteria (i.e. a family income of less than R350 000) will be provided with the education support benefit through NSFAS.
  1. DMV commits to assist to ensure that all deserving military veterans and their dependants continue to receive education support from the department.

All military veterans who have enquiries are encouraged to be in contact with the department.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: Department of Government Communication and Information.

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Mercury Asset Partners determined to finance infrastructure projects in Zambia

Mercury Asset Partners, a multinational financing and logistics company says it has mobilized US$ 600 million for the implementation of various infrastructure and investment projects in Zambia. These include, among others setting up of a solar geyser manufacturing plant, upgrading of slums (urban renewal), establishing an Investment bank focused on providing Construction Finance.

In August 2017, the Government of the Republic of Zambia signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Mercury Asset Partners to construct 5000 houses in various locations in the country. The construction of the houses will come with provision of associated services and auxiliary infrastructure such as paved roads, sewer reticulation, water reticulation, electricity supply, schools, clinics, shopping malls, among others.

This came to light during a meeting between delegation from the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development led by the Minister, Mr. Ronald Chitotela and Mercury Asset Partners group in Washington D.C.

At the same meeting former U.S. Republican Senator Norm Coleman pledged to help the Zambian Government to build strong geopolitical and economic ties with the United States Government. Senator Coleman says the U.S.A and Zambia have a common ground of infrastructure development that the two countries have embarked on. Senator Coleman during his six years in the U.S. Senate served on the Foreign Relations Committee and was Chair of the Western Hemisphere among other portfolios.

Mr. Chitotela says Zambia is on an infrastructure development agenda in order to grow the economy of the country. The Minister said Government wants to grow economic activities by opening Zambia to more foreign direct investment through infrastructure development.

And speaking before departure at Dulles International Airport on Friday, Mr Chitotela described the meetings in Washington as successful. He said Government looks forward to the successful implementation of the projects and urged the National Housing Authority to speed up the process of concluding negotiations so that a contract from MoU with Mercury Asset and Partners is signed.

Meanwhile, Mercury Asset Partners Co-Director and founder Julie Bwalya says they are determined to see the implementation of the projects in Zambia and that further meetings with the National Housing Authority would held in Lusaka to conclude negotiations.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Embassy of the Republic of Zambia, Washington, D.C..

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The International Monetary Fund Executive Board Completes the Third and Final Review under the Precautionary and Liquidity Line Arrangement for Morocco

  • Raising potential growth and making it more inclusive and reducing regional disparities will require sustained reforms.
  • Growth rebounded in 2017 and is expected to accelerate gradually over the medium term, subject to improved external conditions and steadfast reform implementation.
  • Building on recent progress, continued fiscal consolidation will help lower the public-to-GDP debt ratio while securing priority investment and social spending in the medium term.

On January 19, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) completed the third and final review under the Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) Arrangement for Morocco. The arrangement supports the authorities’ economic reform program to rebuild fiscal and external buffers and promote higher and inclusive growth.

The two-year PLL arrangement for Morocco in the amount equivalent to SDR 2.504 billion (about US$3.61 billion) was approved by the IMF’s Executive Board in July 2016. The Moroccan authorities have not drawn on the arrangement and continued to treat it as precautionary. The arrangement will expire on July 21, 2018.

Following the Executive Board’s discussion, Mr. Mitsuhiro Furusawa, Deputy Managing Director and Acting Chair, said:

“Morocco’s sound macroeconomic policies and reform implementation have helped improve the resilience of the economy. External imbalances narrowed in 2017 and international reserves remain at a comfortable level. Fiscal developments were also positive, with the budget deficit declining due to strong revenue performance and contained spending. Growth rebounded in 2017 and is expected to accelerate gradually over the medium term, contingent on improved external conditions and steadfast reform implementation. However, the outlook remains subject to downside risks. In this context, Morocco’s Precautionary and Liquidity Line (PLL) arrangement with the Fund has been a useful insurance against external risks and has been supporting the authorities’ economic policies.”

“The authorities are committed to sustaining sound policies. The new government’s economic program is in line with key reforms announced under the PLL-supported program, such as further reducing fiscal and external vulnerabilities, while strengthening the foundations for higher and more inclusive growth.”

“Building on progress made in recent years, continued fiscal consolidation will help lower the public debt-to-GDP ratio while securing priority investment and social spending in the medium term. Looking ahead, Morocco would benefit from a comprehensive approach to tax reforms, sound public financial management at the local level as part of fiscal decentralization, comprehensive civil service reform, strengthened state-owned enterprise (SOE) oversight, and better targeting of social spending.”

“The recent introduction of greater exchange rate flexibility will help further improve Morocco’s external position, enhance the economy’s capacity to absorb shocks, and preserve its external competitiveness. Adopting the central bank law and continuing efforts to increase supervisory capacity in line with 2015 Financial Sector Assessment Program recommendations will help strengthen the financial sector policy framework.”

“Finally, raising potential growth and making it more inclusive, by reducing persistently high unemployment levels, especially among the youth, increasing female labor participation, and reducing regional disparities will require further measures to advance education, governance, and labor market reforms, as well as to improve the business environment and support more private sector-led growth.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Monetary Fund (IMF).

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Dangote’s Multi-Million Naira Unibadan Business School Ready Soon

Foremost entrepreneur, Aliko Dangote has assured that the N250 million University of Ibadan Business School being constructed by him would soon be ready for commissioning.

The business mogul is also constructing same type of project in the Bayero University Kano (BUK) and will be ready for hand over to the university management anytime from now.

The UI project being undertaken by the Aliko Dangote Foundation (http://Dangote.com) was sequel to a pledge made by the business mogul last year during the convocation ceremony by the university when he was conferred honorary doctorate degree along with some other eminent Nigerians.

The University of Ibadan management later requested that the pledged funds be used to construct the building complex within the premises of the Business School under Professor Nike Oshofisan as the Director.

The University management has equally decided that the building, when completed, will be named ‘Aliko Dangote Complex’.

The Chief Executive of the Aliko Dangote Foundation, Zouera Youssoufou, explained that all efforts are being geared towards timely completion of the project saying “construction is currently on-going and the project will be delivered to the University in February 2018.”

This venture is part of a N2 billion investment by the Aliko Dangote Foundation across various institutions in support of Tertiary education in Nigeria.

Mrs. Youssoufou stated that the projects are in line with the Foundation’s mission to enhance opportunities for social change through strategic investments that improve health and wellbeing, promote quality education, and broaden economic empowerment opportunities.

On the Bayero Business School, the Foundation boss explained that on commencement, the business school will be only the third accredited business school in the country and the first in the North, others being University of Lagos Business School and University of Ibadan Business School.

She disclosed that the UI and BUK projects are complementary to the Foundation’s other tertiary education support projects such as the Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria “where we are currently constructing 10 units of students’ dormitories and we expect that it would be ready by March.

“We have constructed and delivered students’ dormitories in this University, Crescent University, Abeokuta. We have constructed and delivered units of students’ dormitories and provided power generating set to Kano University of Science & Technology, Wudil and now we are in University of Ibadan.”

Presently, the Foundation is involved in N10 billion micro grants to women in all 774 local governments across the federation in a bid to ameliorate widespread poverty in Nigeria by empowering the women and the vulnerable in the society.

The fund disbursement is meant to enable recipients to meet immediate family and livelihood needs by providing a one-time grant to start up enterprises that will boost their economic and consumption activities and help reduce their vulnerability.

The fund has been disbursed in some states such as Lagos, Kogi, Jigawa, Kano and a host of others while Nassarawa, Niger and Osun states are being primed for the next round disbursement.

Aliko Dangote stated that the grants which commenced disbursement in 2011, were intended as a cash transfer intervention – the Dangote Micro-grants Programme- to provide cash transfers to select poor and vulnerable Nigerians.

He said: “Our Programme provides a one-off grant that enables recipients to grow or start a small business, invest in productive assets, improve the health of their families, and/or take on new activities that reduce their vulnerability and enhance their economic standing.”

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Dangote Group.

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