While South Africa digested national Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's 2013 budget speech, Gordhan himself was changing one UCT student's life for the better.
Sizwe Moagi's world "stopped for a minute" when Gordhan announced Moagi as the winner of the 41st Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition on 28 February. Moagi, an honours student in actuarial science, had entered the undergraduate category of the competition in 2012 and was thrilled with the fruits of his toil.
The annual contest challenges young scholars in South Africa to submit an essay that speaks to a key issue in the country's socio-economic environment. After the 2012 budget speech, the undergraduate corps was tasked with arguing whether or not the New Growth Path (NGP) and Industrial Policy Action Plan, together with the national budget, supported the development of small businesses in South Africa.
Moagi's winning study argued that it had the potential to do just that. Moagi concluded that the NGP and its ancillary initiatives "will substantially support the development of small business, and consequently aid in economic growth and job-creation". He cited the increased financing opportunities- which mitigated against a key historical stumbling block for these businesses - progressive competition policy and vastly increased tax relief that the NGP provided for Small, Medium and Micro-sized Enterprises (SMMEs) as key reasons.
He commends the 2013 budget for supporting the goals of the NGP and the National Development Plan 2030 (NDP) that has since become the main driver government policy.
"I think what is important is that [the 2013 budget] has created an economic environment where we can attract a lot of investors to boost the confidence, to keep our deficit in check," Moagi explains. "I think the minister has tried to keep that balance. He has created an enabling environment for business to succeed."
"I was extremely, extremely excited," Moagi said after Gordhan announced the winner. "It was a life-changing experience. At that moment, the world stopped for a minute. I had to try to regroup and come back to Planet Earth."
The competition awards a tidy sum of prize money, and Moagi plans to use his share to boost his insight into the global economic system.
"I plan to take a short course overseas in economics, either at the London School of Economics or somewhere related to that, to broaden my understanding of economics and to see the difference between South African economics and international economics."
Moagi wasn't the only UCT student to perform admirably at the competition. Pumeza Losi, an economics honours student, earned the title of first runner-up in the undergraduate category, while Daniel Kaliski was a second runner-up in the postgraduate category.
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