JOHANNESBURG, South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC), which held its 5th National Policy Conference here last week has proposed that the Presidency be given more powers, including overseeing the national Budget, resource allocation and setting priorities.

This was announced by a member of the ANC National Executive Committee (NEC), Obed Bapela, during a report back session on the Legislature and Governance. However, he clarified that the National Treasury would not form part of this restructuring plan.

Bapela, who is Deputy Minister of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, said here Monday that the party had resolved that the Presidency be more hands-on, including in the allocation of finances, but insisted that the Finance Ministry, along with Treasury, would remain independent.

"The State macro-planning must be centred in the Presidency. Budget and resource allocation must also be located within the Presidency. Thirdly, co-operative governance the I.G.R. ( inter-governmental relations) in the other form of legislation that exist must be centred there."

The party has also recommended that poor, working class and middle strata higher education students be fully subsidised in their studies. The chairperson of the NEC Sub-committee on Education, Health, and Science and Technology, Naledi Pandor, who is Minister of Science and Technology, said it was important for academically capable students who cannot afford tertiary education to receive support.

With regards to health , the ruling party has proposed that a tax rebate on medical aid users to be redirected into the implementation of the National Health Insurance scheme. Pandor said billions of Rand were paid out every year to medical aid holders, and this money could be used to accelerate the operationalisation of the NHI.

"We do not anticipate that there is going to be objections from the private sector on the model that is set out in the NHI, but the systems where a national health system has worked you have had co-operation between the private sector and the public sector."

Pandor said the various ANC commissions were also pushing that the policy cycle which currently stands at five years be extended to 10 years.


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