The 44th edition of the annual Nedbank Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition is set to culminate in a highly anticipated awards ceremony in Cape Town, on the day Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presents the national budget.20 February 2017
First held in 1972, the competition recognises and highlights the depth of talent, intellect and insight that exists within the ranks of South Africa’s future economic leaders. Jointly sponsored by Nedbank and Old Mutual, the annual competition poses challenging economic scenarios to be researched and explored by undergraduate and postgraduate economics students from tertiary institutions across the country.
In 2016, the undergraduate topic asked entrants to suggest, by means of a 2 000 word essay, possible reasons for the lingering gap between high national education investment and still low national education standards, and propose ways in which the nation’s education challenges could be addressed.
Postgraduate entrants were tasked with writing a 3 500 word essay in which they unpack the viability of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) programme given SA’s current fiscal constraints, and suggest an appropriate funding model for the NHI.
As has been the case in previous years, the high quality of entries made the initial filtering process extremely difficult however, the 10 undergraduate and 10 postgraduate finalists were eventually selected. The 20 finalists will now be flown to Cape Town by the sponsors to be interviewed by the adjudication panel, attend the Budget Speech in parliament, and then find out who will take top honours when the 2016 winners are revealed on the night of the Budget Speech.
Apart from the obvious prestige associated with being a Budget Speech Competition winner, there is a total of R420 000 in prize money up for grabs, with the postgraduate winner earning R150 000 for his or her efforts and the top undergraduate entrant walking off with R60 000. The cash prizes awarded to the winners and two runner ups in each category has to be used for academic purposes.
According to Mike Brown, Chief Executive of Nedbank Group, the prize money is not just offered as an incentive to enter the competition, but is viewed by the sponsors as a very worthwhile investment into the future growth and development of the South African economy as a whole.
“Our involvement in this project is testament to our efforts of working together with Government and various stakeholders, in trying to explore sustainable funding solutions for tertiary education”, said Brown.
Through our primary social investment arm, the Nedbank Foundation, we continue to play a significant role in the area of education.
Previous finalists and winners of the Budget Speech Competition have gone on to hold prominent and influential positions in South Africa and internationally. Brown explains, ‘through this sponsorship we are able to identify and nurture future economic thought leaders and influencers.’
Iain Williamson, Interim CEO, Old Mutual Emerging Markets South Africa agrees with Brown and points to the added value that the sponsorship delivers by giving young South Africans a voice.
‘Our students are the country’s future leaders it is essential that they are given the opportunity to be heard,’ says Williamson, ‘particularly since there is also every possibility that the suggestions they make in their essays could offer the type of innovative thinking that literally changes the course of our country’s economic growth and development path.’
The winners of the 2016 Nedbank Old Mutual Budget Speech will be announced on 22 February 2017.
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