Misinterpreting Fossil Graveyards

first_imgFossils are real, but the stories concocted to explain how mixed-up animals became buried together involve assumptions.The news media were all chattering Friday March 29 about a fossil graveyard in North Dakota that contained dinosaurs, fish and trees, along with other unlikely neighbors, all compacted together. All of them assumed that the story being told about a tsunami from the Chicxulub asteroid impact burying them together was the truth: not only the best theory, but the only theory. The headlines were overconfident:Fossils record dinosaur-killing impact (Jonathan Amos, BBC News).Scientists have found an extraordinary snapshot of the fallout from the asteroid impact that wiped out the dinosaurs 66 million years ago.Excavations in North Dakota reveal fossils of fish and trees that were blasted with rocky fragments that fell from the sky.The deposits show evidence also of having been swamped with water – the consequence of the colossal sea surge that was generated by the impact.Does this not look like a global flood? Credit Robert DePalma, UC Berkeley.66 million-year-old deathbed linked to dinosaur-killing meteor (UC Berkeley News). This article even comes with artwork depicting the tsunami burying the gasping dinosaurs and a minute-by-minute playbook of what happened. Before accepting the timeline, though, take a look at the data. Fish were found buried on top of one another. The animals found buried together did not normally live anywhere near each other:This unique, fossilized graveyard — fish stacked one atop another and mixed in with burned tree trunks, conifer branches, dead mammals, mosasaur bones, insects, the partial carcass of a Triceratops, marine microorganisms called dinoflagellates and snail-like marine cephalopods called ammonites — was unearthed by paleontologist Robert DePalma over the past six years in the Hell Creek Formation, not far from Bowman, North Dakota.Is this the only story to fit the observations?Catastrophic failure of Earth’s global systems led to the extinction of the dinosaurs (Simon Beard, The Conversation). At about the same time as the previous articles, this author wrote that the asteroid theory may be the “consensus” view, but it is not the only view.But this was not the only dramatic event to coincide with the death of the dinosaurs. At around the same time, in central India, a truly colossal series of volcanoes were spewing out over a million cubic kilometres of lava together with sulphur and carbon dioxide that changed the climate and caused global acid rain. Meanwhile, a slowing of undersea tectonic activity led to one of the most rapid periods of falling sea levels in the history of the planet, devastating coastal ecosystems.This has led to some pretty heated debates about what “really” killed the dinosaurs, especially as there have been times when similarly dramatic events occurred without seeming to cause nearly so much harm.Some of the evidence from North Dakota appears to support their asteroid theory: tektites (glass beads) in amber and in fish gills, thought to have resulted from the impact thousands of miles away. Walter Alvarez, who in 1979 with his father Luis proposed the asteroid impact theory, saw the site and considers the tektites a good confirmation of his theory. A fast-moving tectonic wave, or seiche, might have arrived at the site around the same time as the tektites began falling, flinging the fish onto the land. Then, the tsunami came, burying the animals and fish together. It’s a compelling scenario, but is it the only one? Several events appear linked to the impact, but the timing and energy level was also critical.Update April 3, 2019: Skeptics of the report by Robert DePalma are noting “something weird” in his story. Fox News republished an article from news.com.au that complains that the actual PNAS paper is not jiving with astounding hyped claims made in a story from New Yorker Magazine that preceded the paper. Noted paleontologists don’t find evidence for a ‘dinosaur graveyard’ in the published data, and worry about the secrecy surrounding the location. DePalma responded to Live Science about some of the criticisms, explaining that more data will be published later. The most complete skeptical review appeared the next day in Science by Colin Barras, who thinks future studies of the Tanis site will be required to settle the controversies.The Noahic flood would have involved many of the very same phenomena inferred in North Dakota. Many flood geologists believe that impacts and volcanoes accompanied the surging waters, and lightning storms occurred, the likes of which earth had never seen, igniting forests soon to be buried by flood waters. A global flood certainly had the energy to transport land animals and marine animals over long distances and bury them together with debris from charred forests. Secular geologists, however, assume from the outset that the Biblical account is just a myth to be dismissed, no matter how good the match with the data.To be an evolutionist, you have to believe in several impossible things before breakfast. Evolutionists propose 9 near-universal extinction events, not just one. In the moyboy timeline of millions and billions of years, like Beard says, “similarly dramatic events occurred without seeming to cause nearly so much harm.” Throughout planetary science, we have seen secularists employing impacts as convenient theory rescue devices. They use them everywhere, not just on earth. The impact theory as a rescue device should be considered suspect in this case as well, considering that the cause of the dinosaur extinction is still a matter of “heated debates” long after the Alvarez team proposed it 40 years ago. And as William of Ockham would have advised, one should avoid invoking multiple causes when one cause will do.(Visited 808 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

Nigerian artist wins prestigious South African art prize

first_imgPeju Alatise is the 2017 winner of the FNB Art Prize. The Nigerian mixed-medium artist explores strong African narratives with a focus on the experiences of contemporary African women.Peju Alatise’s mixed-medium installation Flying Girls was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in June 2017. (Image: Peju Alatise)CD AndersonAlatise’s various early paintings, later sculptures and current installations will be the showcase exhibit at the tenth annual FNB Joburg Art Fair, to be held in Sandton from 8-10 September 2017.The fair, one of South Africa’s leading art events, will feature more than 60 exhibitions across five categories, including traditional and modern art. Artists and cultural organisations from 11 countries, including the United States, will be part of the event.Alatise’s work was nominated for the award by Johannesburg’s Red Door Gallery. Gallery founder Bola Asiru felt that her work best communicated both the African and female experience. “Peju’s work is filled with strong societal narratives on the realities of life in Africa,” Asiru said.Born in 1975 in Lagos, Nigeria, Alatise studied architecture before being inspired by the jarring and honest visual art of fellow Nigerian artist David Dale. She later trained with Dale, as well as worked with traditional artisans around Africa, learning to incorporate materials such as beads, cloth and natural resins into her increasingly ambitious works.Alatise has exhibited around the world, including at the Smithsonian Institute of African Art in the US and the Venice Biennale in Italy, one of the world’s longest running and most respected art events. Her earlier paintings and more recent multimedia pieces are also in a number of private collections as well as permanent exhibits around the world.“It’s time for [her] message to be taken to the rest of Africa and there is no better platform for this than the FNB Joburg Art Fair,” Asiru said.“[The Biennale is the] highest level of exhibiting an artist can be honoured with,” Alatise told CNN earlier this year. “It is the Olympics of the arts.” The particular work exhibited in Venice, titled Flying Girls, is an eight-sculpture installation of winged girls in mid-flight, representing “a strong societal narrative on the realities faced by women in Africa”. The piece will on show at the Joburg Art Fair.Peju Alatise’s mixed-medium installation Flying Girls was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in June 2017. (Image: Peju Alatise)Announcing her win on its website, the Art Fair describes Alatise’s work as “installations using materials such as cloth, beads, wood, cement and resin. Addressing several social, political and gender-related issues as her primary subject matter, her works have also captured the joys and pain of womanhood as experienced in modern-life-African traditions, with all their consequences. Her subject matter has evolved with her continued experiences, moving her focus from advocating the equal rights of women to broader political and philosophical issues.”Speaking about Alatise’s winning contribution to the Joburg Art Fair, jury member Pulane Kingston from Webber Wentzel Attorneys said the judges were unanimous. “The quality of all shortlisted candidate proposals was high this year, but… Peju Alatise’s proposal… stood out. The innovative, universal social relevance and poignancy in the themes underpinning her work were some of the deciding factors in tipping the scales in her favour.“The body of her work over the years has been varied and compositionally strong and we think that it palpably reflects the intense vibrancy of the African continent. We have no doubt that the integrity of the overall body of her work will propel her career meaningfully.”As sponsor of the award and the event, Aneesa Razack, CEO of FNB Share Investing, said Alatise’s work was a fine representation of the bank’s commitment to art in Africa. “We recognise that artistic expression involves creativity and imagination, which we know to be key drivers of innovation… the social and political commentary of Alatise’s work embodies so much of what we hope to find in the recipient of the prize.”Read an indepth interview with Peju Alatise by Aljazeera here. For more information about the Joburg Art Fair, visit the website here. View more of Peju Alatise’s work on her personal website here. Source: All Africa, FNB, Joburg Art FairWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See Using Brand South Africa material.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

Leadership Skills and How to Hone Them

first_imgGreat leaders are always looking at the big picture. Having a clear vision and being able to commit to it can differentiate a great leader from a good business person. Leaders who can capitalize on ways to make their vision a reality will soar ahead of the pack. Humility means simply recognizing that everything is not all about you. This is immensely helpful to leaders when it comes to preparing for the future. It helps to make sure that you aren’t overlooking the value that other team members can add. Listening The Fundamentals Having a Vision Great leadership means being able to diagnose your clients needs in some sort of discovery or needs analysis. You can’t easily diagnose your dream clients needs if you don’t know what they are all about. It takes time to master the art of diagnosis.Because there are now so many people and companies that sell what you sell, you have to be able to differentiate yourself and your offering. Differentiating is difficult, and it takes time to develop yourself to the point that you stand out from the crowd. You have to spend time learning how to differentiate what you do from what your competitors do.The last of the intermediate skills is negotiation. This means assessing where you can create and capture different levels of value. As you grow, you will learn and develop the skill of creating and capturing more value. But this isn’t an easy skill set to learn initially, especially when so many buyers choose to believe price is the same thing as cost. Empathy 1. Read and Study LeadershipLeadership is a complex array of skills and attributes. There are as many definitions as there are leaders, and an equal number of ideas about the skills and attributes leadership requires. Because there are so many ideas, there is a whole lot of reading material on them. Diving into this material is a great way to continuously improve as a leader.The role of sales now requires that the salesperson be a strategic orchestrator, leading cross-functional teams made up of members of their own company, as well as the client’s company. We recognize this fact, but there are few (read: none) sales organizations that focus even the smallest portion of the training and development resources towards leadership. This means you are all but certain to have to train and develop yourself.Go to your local bookstore and buy a couple of books on leadership. I make no recommendation as to what books you should read – you will easily find something that appeals to and engages you.For my money, I like to read books by actual practitioners, leaders who face challenges that seem insurmountable, like Shackleton, Washington, and Patton. I find it easy to distill their stories into lists of ideas and attributes (but then, I am a list-maker). If you don’t like to read biographies, or if you don’t like distilling the lessons yourself, choose a book that has a number in the title. A book with a number in the title means someone else captured the stories and distilled the lessons into a list for you.Take the time to write down your ideas as you read. Make notes about the skills and attributes of leadership and collect stories of where you have seen these come into play in your business. Especially write down the failures of leadership and what leadership skills and attributes might have prevented those failures. This exercise alone will ingrain these lessons into your DNA, and you will find yourself thinking of your own leadership problems in the framework you develop.2. Learn to Own the OutcomeWhen you sell something, you are responsible for the outcome.This has always been true. If your client does not achieve the outcome you sold, it stands that you are accountable for their failure.Leadership is, in large part, about responsibility for outcomes.Learning to own the outcome means first accepting the responsibility for helping them to achieve the outcome. It also means understanding that you will have to lead others even when you have no authority, other than the authority that accompanies owning the responsibility for the outcome. But it is simply amazing how much authority comes along with owning the outcome. In most cases, you will find no one fighting to take your place as the person responsible for the outcome and even fewer who volunteer to take on the biggest problems.Leadership is, in part, taking responsibility and tackling the biggest problems. Flexibility I couldn’t possibly name all of the skills involved in leadership, but here are some of the critical ones that I think are most important in the sales world and just generally in life. One thing that is consistent across all great leaders is their constant willingness to improve their leadership skills. Skills are not static. I have to work steadily to sharpen and improve them and so do you. Fortunately, there are some basic concepts you can incorporate into your personal edification strategy. Fearless Agility Supremely Important Leadership Skills The 3 Levels of Sales Skills Leaders can be incredibly smart, hardworking and motivated but if they don’t know how to communicate they are never going to get very far in sales or any business endeavor. Interpersonal interactions are incredibly important and allow leaders to reach individuals and connect with them on their level. The modern world isn’t showing any signs of slowing down. The constant stream of new technology and the pace at which expectations are changing mean that we need leaders who can keep up. Being able to quickly and effectively think, decide and inspire is a crucial part of staying successful in a world of changing demand. Leadership is a complex array of skills and attributes and it can be difficult to sum up in a concise definition. Some people believe that leaders are born, not made. Others think one can develop and hone leadership skills, just like any other ability. I happen to fall into the latter category.I have helped dozens of up and coming sales pros to help them become better, more effective leaders. This involves being attuned to new trends, staying abreast of the changing environment and consistently working on building skills that myself and others will need to succeed. Like any other industry, I need to grow and refine my leadership skills in order to stay ahead in sales.Read on to learn more about leadership skills and how to hone them to improve your chances of crushing it in the sales world. Essential Reading! Get my 3rd book: Eat Their Lunch “The first ever playbook for B2B salespeople on how to win clients and customers who are already being serviced by your competition.” Buy Now Once you’ve spent time selling (or working in some capacity where you have responsibility for results) you develop business acumen and situational knowledge. You learn how business works, and you have had enough experiences to recognize patterns and ideas that are worth trying.You also develop the skill of helping people and organizations change. More and more, companies make decisions by consensus, and salespeople have to help lead and manage change. They sometimes have to act as the catalyst for change, something that is not easily done without having had the experiences that develop those skills. This final stage is complex and will continue to develop over time as you learn more about your buyer and their needs.Sales is a leadership role. The skill of leading others is what allows you to lead your clients, lead your teams, and lead your client’s team–even when you have no formal authority. Leadership is necessary, especially for large, complex deals.The acquisition of these skills doesn’t occur in a linear fashion. They develop over time, and you develop them through your experiences, your training, and your personal and professional development. None of them are easy to develop, but all of them are necessary and well worth the devotion of time and energy. Intermediate Selling Skills I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The master key to sales effectiveness will always be self-discipline. The most successful people I know who use social media work harder than almost anyone else I know. Quick LearningOne often overlooked leadership skill is the ability to learn quickly, over and above just recalling information and knowledge. It is so important to be coachable and adaptable in order to manage the overload of information in the tech world and to be able to respond to the varying needs of new clients in real time. Business Acumen First, you have to learn the fundamentals of selling. This involves learning to close, or gain commitments as well as how to overcome objections and resolve concerns. You also have to learn how to deliver a value proposition that has features and benefits.This stage also involves learning how to prospect. I call this “opening relationships” and “opening opportunities” because you can’t close any deal that isn’t first opened. Prospecting is just as fundamental to selling as closing, even though we often spend too much time worrying about closing. It’s important to devote just as much time to opening.Another critical part of the fundamentals is that you learn to tell stories (or present). You have to be able to talk about how you will make things better for a prospect, how you get different results, and how you have helped other people in similar situations.Once you have a command of these first level fundamentals, you can graduate to the intermediate selling skills. Honesty, integrity, credibility, and trust have always been the currency that salespeople trade in. But the deeper fundamental is the shift towards embracing transparency and authenticity as an asset in business. In order to succeed, leaders need to develop trust and you need to be authentic in order to encourage people to connect with and trust you. Humility Self-Discipline 9-5 desk jobs are becoming obsolete as teams are quickly transitioning to work from remote locations, co-working spaces, on their own time, etc. Flexibility is a timeless principle and leaders will always need it to succeed. Being able to adapt to new technologies and a younger workforce will help keep you fresh and effective. Empathy is one of the most crucial leadership skills because it allows us to build emotional intelligence within ourselves as leaders. Empathy and compassion are the cornerstones of human and allow for mutual understanding of all kinds of issues. Being successful in business means being successful with people and we need empathy to really understand other people’s needs and concerns. Communication 3 Ways To Improve Leadership Skills Leaders have to be highly skilled listeners. Not only will this help you understand the needs of your team, but it will also help you hone into the needs of your clients and partners. This means listening on multiple levels and tuning into the concerns and requests as well as the emotions behind them. Authenticity First things first: Leadership skills come in three tiers. 3. Learn to Lead from the FrontLeadership is where the action is. Leaders have muddy boots because they are on the front lines with the people they lead. Leadership, especially as it pertains to sales, isn’t about authority. It is instead about finding the obstacles to achieving your goal or vision and then rallying the resources to overcome those obstacles.You don’t lead from behind a desk. You rush to the sounds of the guns. You go to where the action is and you make your presence felt. There is very little that you can do to create lifelong relationships in sales that tops being by your client’s side when they are dealing with their most difficult challenge.You helped create the vision. You sold the vision. Problems showed up. You answered the phone. You rushed to the scene to make a difference. This is what your client expects, and following through on expectations is the true foundation of sales success (as well as the referrals this brings).To put this into practice you have to step up, take ownership, and lead. Many (most) (all) great leaders got baptized in a similar fire.ConclusionGreat salespeople have the ability to lead. They have the ability to generate results through the efforts of others on their teams, as well as their client’s teams. But to be a consistently successful leader, you have to keep developing and honing your leadership skills over time. This will help ensure you have everything you need to survive.last_img read more

Science Says: How Repeated Head Blows Affect the Brain

first_imgCHICAGO (AP) — Researchers are tackling fresh questions about a degenerative brain disease now that it has been detected in the brains of nearly 200 football players after death. The suspected cause is repeated head blows, an almost unavoidable part of contact sports.As a new NFL season gets underway, here’s a look at what’s known — and what still needs to be learned — about the condition:WHAT’S NEW?The largest report to date on chronic traumatic encephalopathy included 202 brains from football players at the youth, college and professional level, all donated post-mortem to a Boston brain bank. CTE was detected in all but one of the 111 NFL players studied, 90 percent of the college players and 20 percent of the high school players. It was absent in two younger players’ brains.A previous report had described the disease in an 18-year-old football player, but finding additional cases at the high school level raises new questions about the game’s safety for young players.HOW COMMON IS CTE?The high occurrence of CTE in donated brains surprised researchers at Boston University and the VA Boston Healthcare System, whose brain bank is billed as the world’s largest focusing on traumatic brain injury and CTE.But whether CTE is truly common in sports or the general population isn’t known. Most brains studied for CTE have been donated by family members because of concerns about mental symptoms that might be related to the disease — they don’t come from a random population of people. Some experts think it isn’t common since many athletes get repeated head blows and never develop symptoms.WHAT CAUSES CTE?Repeated knocks to the head are the most likely cause of CTE. Scientists believe genes probably play a role and may explain why some people with repeated head blows never develop the disease. Lifestyle habits including diet, alcohol and drugs may also somehow contribute.HOW DO HEAD BLOWS AFFECT THE BRAIN?Though the brain is jello-like in texture and cushioned in cerebrospinal fluid, a powerful hit — from a hard tackle, a fist or bomb shock wave — can cause a concussion, forcing the brain to ricochet back and forth inside the skull. Besides bruising and swelling, researchers believe that force can cause the brain to elongate, stretching nerve cells and their axons — fiber-like parts that transmit messages between cells. With a mild blow, these cells may return to normal, but a forceful hit may cause them to die.Common symptoms after a concussion include dizziness, confusion, headaches, nausea and sometimes temporary loss of consciousness.CTE has been linked with repeated concussions and some scientists believe it may occur after repeated head blows that don’t cause any obvious symptoms. But they still don’t know how many head hits is too many.WHAT HAPPENS IN CTE?The disease involves progressive brain damage, particularly in the frontal region, which controls many functions including judgment, emotion, impulse control, social behavior and memory. A signature feature is abnormal deposits of tau protein that accumulate around small blood vessels in brain crevices. Tau occurs normally in brain cells, helping them maintain their shape and function.But researchers believe that multiple head blows may dislodge tau protein from the cell structure and cause it to form clumps inside nerve cells. These tau clumps can damage and ultimately kill nerve cells, and can spread as the disease progresses. At advanced stages, brain shrinkage may occur.Abnormal tau deposits in different shapes, patterns and locations have been implicated in other brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s Parkinson’s disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or ALS.WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?Research suggests early stages of CTE may cause no obvious symptoms. Many players whose autopsies showed more advanced disease had experienced personality changes, aggressive behavior, paranoia, poor memory, attention problems, dementia and depression. Some died by suicide. Whether the tau changes associated with CTE cause those symptoms is unclear.IS IT JUST A FOOTBALL DISEASE?What’s now called CTE was once thought to mainly affect boxers; the earliest known reference in the medical literature was a 1928 report by a New Jersey pathologist who referred to a “punch-drunk” syndrome.The first published finding about CTE in a retired NFL player was a 2005 report on Pittsburgh Steelers Hall of Famer Mike Webster.CTE also has been found in other contact sports including soccer, baseball and ice hockey; in soldiers exposed to bomb blast waves; domestic violence victims; and in psychiatric patients who engaged in repeated head-banging.WHAT’S FOOTBALL’S RESPONSE?Thousands of former players are due to get damage awards from a $1 billion settlement stemming from lawsuits claiming the league hid what it knew about a link between concussions and CTE.Earlier this year the NFL hired a Vanderbilt University sports concussion expert, neurosurgeon Dr. Allen Sills, as its first full-time chief medical officer.Injury risks are part of football, but the league is trying to make the game safer, Sills said.New “no-go” criteria this season for when to keep injured players out of the game list confusion, amnesia and loss of consciousness after an on-field injury. Injured players will be evaluated in new portable sideline exam tents, for privacy and to reduce distractions for those with suspected concussions.There also will be a ban on “leaper” block attempts, where a defender leaping over the offense to block a kick is tackled midair.WHAT’S NEXT?Researchers are seeking to refine brain scan techniques to identify CTE tau deposits in living brains. They’re also looking for clues in blood or cerebrospinal fluid that would allow them to diagnose CTE before death. If such markers exist, they could be targets for drug treatment.Symptoms associated with CTE can sometimes be managed with drugs or other treatment, but there’s no cure and the only way to prevent it is to avoid head blows.Studies are underway to identify if specific genes make certain athletes more vulnerable to brain damage from head blows, and researchers hope to pin down how many head blows it takes to develop CTE.By LINDSEY TANNERTweetPinShare22 Shareslast_img read more