News News News Follow the news on Azerbaijan AzerbaijanEurope – Central Asia April 9, 2021 Find out more June 8, 2021 Find out more Receive email alerts Help by sharing this information Organisation to go further RSF_en News RSF calls for a fully transparent investigation after mine kills two journalists in Azerbaijan Reporters Without Borders voiced concern today about the state of health of imprisoned journalist Sakit Zahidov, who began a hunger strike on 3 February to protest against his conditions of detention and to demand medical attention. He has been detained since 23 June 2006.“We call for Zahidov’s immediate release, especially as the reasons for which he is being held are above all political,” the press freedom organisation said. “The OSCE has been voicing its support for him since 2006. If the authorities want to show they are interested in protecting free expression, releasing Zahidov would be a good start.”Zahidov already staged two hunger strikes in July and October 2007. He is demanding to be transferred to a hospital for treatment but the authorities at N14 prison, where he is being held, and the prison doctors have refused. His wife, Rena Zahidova, said: “His condition is deteriorating, he can no longer walk, but he is pressing on with his hunger strike.”Zahidov, who works for the opposition daily Azadlig, was sentenced on 4 October 2006 to three years in prison for “possession of drugs for personal consumption” under article 234.1 of the criminal code, although no evidence was produced to support this charge during the trial. Russian peacekeepers deny foreign reporters access to Nagorno-Karabakh June 4, 2021 Find out more “We’ll hold Ilham Aliyev personally responsible if anything happens to this blogger in France” RSF says AzerbaijanEurope – Central Asia February 6, 2008 – Updated on January 20, 2016 Detained opposition journalist begins another hunger strike
The city of Kingston has been named the Nearshore City of the Year for its performance in business process outsourcing (BPO).The city received this accolade at the recent Nexus Illuminate Awards, hosted by Nearshore Americas in the United States, to recognize the leading outsourcing companies and countries in the Caribbean and Latin America for their innovation and excellent performance.President of Jamaica Promotions Corporation (JAMPRO), Diane Edwards, in an interview with the Jamaica Information Service (JIS), said Kingston copped the award for the rapid growth in the outsourcing sector in 2017, which included 5,000 new jobs created by existing and new BPO players.Kingston has also seen more than US$22 million in investment over the last 12 months on new construction and refurbishing of existing properties to meet the demands of the growing industry.These developments have propelled Kingston to becoming the fastest-growing city in the Caribbean for outsourcing.“This is a huge accolade for the city and a tribute to some of the top names in BPO, who have made their home in Kingston.”Edwards noted that the city is on a growth trajectory, with more investments and jobs in outsourcing on the horizon.
by Will GravesAP Sports Writer PITTSBURGH (AP) — Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker James Harrison didn’t want to wait for the NFL to do something about protecting his head, so the four-time Pro Bowler decided to do it himself. After enduring what he estimated as “double digit” bouts with concussion-like symptoms throughout his decade-long career, Harrison began using a special layer of padding inside his helmet last fall and is pleased with the results.“I haven’t seen any spots or had any blackouts,” Harrison said Tuesday.Harrison was the first NFL player to use the CRT padding developed by Unequal Technologies inside his helmet. Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick began using a flak jacket lined with military-grade Kevlar during the 2010 season, but Harrison was the first player to put the quarter-inch padding in his helmet.He’s been joined around 100 players over the last 12 months and feels the extra weight (about 3-4 ounces) is worth the feeling of safety it provides.“To protect my head I’d take a pound more,” Harrison said.The outspoken 2009 NFL Defensive Player of the Year believes the movement could catch on. One of the NFL’s fiercest hitters, Harrison says he played through concussion-like symptoms in the past but as he’s aged has become more wary of the long-lasting impact repeated head shots can have on a player’s future health.“If something works, I’m going to use it,” he said.The green padding uses material developed to protect combat military personnel. The padding square packs that can be cut into different shapes then stuck inside helmets from various sports, including hockey and baseball.Harrison became aware of the product while looking for a little extra protection after fracturing his right orbital bone last season. Pittsburgh backup quarterback Charlie Batch, a member of the NFL Players Association’s executive council, introduced CRT to player representatives from around the league, which quickly helped expand usage.Unequal Technologies president Robert Vito said the product doesn’t claim to prevent concussions but that anecdotal evidence from players from all levels seem to indicate the material can help minimize the recurrence of concussions.Harrison noted the NFL has gone to great lengths to address concussions and hand out “crazy fines” to players who make illegal hits but haven’t taken aggressive action in trying to update the equipment.“The league is mandating next year that we wear thigh and knee pads,” Harrison said. “I don’t know how many people’s career has been ended on a thigh or knee bruise. We have guys now that are 30, 31 years old that are having to quit the game because they have severe headaches … I think you should be focusing more on (the helmet) than knee or thigh pads.”(Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and http://twitter.com/AP_NFL) HIGH-FIVES–Steelers linebacker James Harrison (92) high fives fans as he heads to the locker room aftergame against the Philadelphia Eagles on Oct. 7, in Pittsburgh..(AP Photo/Don Wright)
The men’s title went to Brazil’s Thiago Pereira, while Sweden’s Therese Alshammar won the women’s title. Would you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? See: Using SAinfo material South Africa’s Cameron van der Burgh had won the men’s title for the past two years, but this year opted out of the series early on to recover at home from a tiring season. In total, he won the freestyle four times, the breaststroke an equal number of times, and the butterfly five times, for a total of 13 victories. He also achieved the best times recorded in those three events. DominatedIn his absence, Roland Schoeman dominated the 50 metres breaststroke throughout the series. In 2009, he had been good enough to beat Van der Burgh, the world record holder in the event, twice. With Van der Burgh not around, Schoeman went virtually unchallenged. In the last two events of the series, in Moscow on 2-3 November and in Stockholm on 6-7 November, he won the 50m freestyle both times, the 50m breaststroke on both occasions, and was third and first in the butterfly respectively. South African swimmers featured prominently throughout the World Cup and achieved numerous podium places. Those that achieved at least one victory included Roland Schoeman, Cameron van der Burgh, Darian Townsend, Lyndon Ferns, and Jessica Pengelly. Thus, Pereira achieved what proved to be his winning score at the very first meet in Rio in which his 200 metres individual medley time was worth 969 points. Displaying similar consistency throughout the series, Schoeman was undoubtedly the leading performer in the sprints. Townsend had to play second fiddle to Pereira in the individual medley, but his performances were also of a very high standard and earned him second place on the podium and a cheque for US$50 000. The 50 metres breaststroke was not the only sprint race in which Schoeman excelled. He also shone in the butterfly and freestyle sprints. 9 November 2010 Alshammar previously topped the World Cup standings in 2006 and 2007. She placed second in 2008 and 2009. Fina Points tableThe final standings are not calculated on the number of wins, however, but on points according to the Fina Points Table, which assigns a value to the time achieved by a swimmer. South African swimmers Darian Townsend and Roland Schoeman finished second and third respectively in the final standings after the completion of the Fina/Arena Swimming World Cup in Stockholm, Sweden, on Sunday.
Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan and his team before the delivery of the mini budget on 26 October 2016. (Image: National Treasury, Facebook)Compiled by Priya PitamberThe Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) was integral to South Africa’s open and accountable budget process, said Donald Liphoko, the acting director-general of the Government Communication and Information System.“The MTBPS also sets out the fiscal policy objectives and spending priorities over the three-year expenditure period,” he explained.Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan presented the mini budget to parliament in Cape Town on 26 October 2016.Read the full speech below:Fellow South AfricansMolweni! Dumelang! Goeie middag! It is my privilege to present the twentieth Medium Term Budget Policy Statement for consideration of the House and all South Africans.I also table:The Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure, andThe 2016 Adjustments Appropriation Bill,Division of Revenue Amendment Bill,Taxation Laws Amendment Bill,Tax Administration Laws Amendment Bill,Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill, and its accompanying Administration Bill, and;Finance Bill.The first MTBPS was tabled in December 1997 during the term of President Mandela’s government. Its purpose was stated as follows: “It describes Government’s goals and objectives.It explains the economic environment within which those objectives are being addressed, and projects the total level of resources that will be available.It analyses the trade-offs and choices that the nation confronts in addressing its reconstruction and development priorities.In keeping with our commitment to open, transparent and cooperative policy-making, it invites the nation to share with Government the important choices that must be made.”Our goals remain to promote social transformation and more inclusive economic growth, and to achieve a much better life and opportunities for all South Africans.As in those years, the economic environment today is uncertain. The MTBPS must ensure that we have a sustainable and resilient budget and that we leave future generations with a vibrant democracy, a society at peace, and progress in all the sustainable development goals – but without an unmanageable debt, or extreme poverty. No-one should be left behind in our march to a better life for all.The MTBPS reports to Parliament and the public on:The planned use of taxpayer funds,Measures to secure our fiscal and financial position, andSteps to strengthen public finance management.It sets out the priorities which inform the division of revenue between national, provincial and local government for the next three years.It outlines a framework for inclusive growth and inclusive transformation, and some of the political and structural changes we must make to create a better future.Above all, it invites Parliament and the people of South Africa to engage with the policy choices and decisions we must take in pursuing the aspirations and goals of our Constitution and the National Development Plan.In saying this, I need to caution that we should not expect to find straightforward answers. The budget process, every year, is a reminder that we face many difficult questions –How to make further progress in housing, clean water and sanitation for all,How to create equal access to health care,How to accelerate job creation and small enterprise development,How to expand access to further education and advance our technology capabilities.The economic environment this year is unusually difficult. We have also faced other extraordinary challenges.Slow economic growth means that employment has declined over the past year. Many businesses are in difficulties and households are struggling to make ends meet.In the lead-up to this year’s Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, we have been acutely aware of the depth of these stresses, and the diverse interests and expectations of South Africans:Those who need work,Those who want to study,Those who seek opportunities in their careers or businesses, and for their families,Those who dream of greatness in the arts, in sport, as builders or teachers, in business or in public service.All of us –Leaders in business and labour, in churches and universities,Workers, students, security officers,Officials in government offices, municipalities and courts,Our people in informal settlements and rural areas.All of us have expectations of government, of the economy and indeed of our political system. We expect delivery. We expect change for the better. We expect progress in South Africa. Above all, we expect a better future for our children – particularly through education.No one stakeholder can meet these aspirations alone. Yet if each of us contributes to our shared goals, we can achieve greatness beyond our imaginings. There is a Pedi saying: Ditau tsa hloka seboka di shitwa ke nare e hlotsa, “lions that fail to work as a team will struggle to bring down even a limping buffalo”.What we seek, and more, can be done:If we collectively make the right choices,Support confidence and investment in our economy,Create a predictable and stable policy and political environment, andPut the national interest first.It’s up to us.Summary of the MTBPSHonourable Speaker, allow me to summarise the medium term outlook.Global growth has slowed, affecting investment and trade in many developing economies.Our economic growth will be just 0.5 per cent this year, rising to 1.7 per cent in 2017. If we do the right things to support investment and confidence, our economic recovery will be more rapid.Measured and balanced fiscal consolidation will continue over the period ahead, with the budget deficit declining from 3.4 per cent this year to 2.5 per cent in 2019/20.Debt is projected to stabilise at just less than 48 per cent of GDP.Over the next two years, we propose to raise an additional R43-billion through tax measures.The expenditure ceiling will be lowered by R26-billion.Consolidated government expenditure will rise by 7.6 per cent a year over the MTEF period. Additional allocations are proposed for post-school education, health services and social protection.Infrastructure investment, mainly in energy, transport and telecommunications, will amount to over R900-billion over the next three years.Efforts to improve supply chain management and ensure greater value for money in public service delivery will continue to be prioritised.Our central message is that stable and sustainable public finances, alongside economic reforms and a transparent monetary policy, can support a return to the higher growth rates needed to achieve the National Development Plan’s goals. But macroeconomic tools are not enough. If we are to nurture the “green shoots” in the economy then our holistic package of measures must be implemented.No one measure will work: our approach is to mobilise efforts across many fronts, and to recognise a diversity of contributions in an open and multi-facetted development framework.The Medium Term Budget Policy Statement reaffirms our approach to building a national consensus on development and transformation.Inclusive growth is our objective.Our macroeconomic and fiscal framework sets limits to government debt and expenditure, while supporting stronger public and private sector investment.Concerted implementation of our nine-point plan for the real economy is required.Growth and development rely on policy initiatives across a wide range of sectors and Ministerial portfolios, aimed at broadening participation and enhancing economic development.Structural transformation rests on a partnership between government, business, organised labour and all stakeholders who share our commitment to inclusiveness in our development path.We must intensify the national dialogue to seek common solutions and concrete actions to slow growth and poverty. Just as in our historic past, we need a collective, concerted effort. We must let hope and resilience triumph over despair and division. It’s up to us.We and South Africa are indebted to the foresight, commitment to the national interest and extensive collaboration of labour and business leaders. The stewardship of Mr Jabu Mabuza together with leaders of all our federations has been rock solid.Government at workWe have a platform to build on. The “green shoots” are there. Can we nurture them?Institution-building is never complete. It has to adapt to new challenges. Interests diverge. People make mistakes. Modernisation continues.In public finance management, work is in progress to reform our procurement framework, improve cost controls, and strengthen budgetary procedures. Minister Radebe is leading efforts to improve our planning systems, including better engagement with social partners.Minister Ramatlhodi’s oversight of the institutions of the public service is also critical. Following a 20 per cent increase in government employment between 2006 and 2011, personnel expenditure now has to be contained, through attrition in numbers, more moderate wage increases and rationalisation of the organisational structure of the state.In promoting employment and economic growth, we have to address barriers to investment across every sector. Minister Oliphant oversees important initiatives to enhance our labour market institutions, manage industrial disputes better and protect vulnerable workers. Our competition authorities are breaking down barriers to participation under Minister Patel’s leadership. The work of the International Trade Administration Commission and Minister Davies’ department is vital to our industrial progress and regional development.In all the portfolios of government, there are statutory or regulatory reforms under consideration that are about the pace of transformation and inclusivity of our growth path.I have in mind:Minister Motsoaledi’s guidance of the National Health Insurance initiative,Minister Shabangu’s leadership on issues that affect women and gender equality,Minister Nkwinti’s work on land redistribution, agri-parks and rural development, andMinister Zokwana’s promotion of our agriculture and forestry sectors – where there is so much potential both for job creation and export growth, but we have to manage the challenges of drought and volatile commodity markets.I also have in mind:The need to work with our banks to give greater impetus to housing investment, in cooperation with Minister Sisulu,The need for better urban planning and public transport investment, under Minister Peters’ guidance,Further social security reform, in partnership with organised labour, alongside improvements in the retirement funding industry,Minister Zwane’s regulatory and social development challenges in our mining sector,Minister Cwele’s responsibility for broadening access to telecommunications,Minister Zulu’s small business development initiatives, and the growth opportunities in tourism,The responsibilities of Minister Molewa and Minister Mokonyane, in the context of our endorsement of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and our water security challenges.Members of the House, there are many other programmes and policies which are vital for our growth. With careful attention to sustainability and inclusivity, they will contribute to employment and broadening of economic opportunities. Properly designed and implemented, they will contribute to black economic empowerment and to strengthening localisation and the growth of South African enterprises.This is the way forward. Progress in all these areas will depend also on our clear commitment to the rule of law, transparency, accountability, competitiveness and value for money. It is time to re-confirm this social contract. It is time to re-build trust. It is time to make hard decisions. It’s up to us.At a crossroadHonourable Speaker, as a nation it is as if we are at a crossroad, politically and economically.In Amilcar Cabral’s words: “…one type of struggle we regard as fundamental…(is) the struggle against our own weaknesses… Whatever difficulties the enemy may create, the aforementioned is the most difficult struggle for the present and the future of our people…”We must look frankly at ourselves, and ask what is working for us and what is not, and what needs to change.It is not just that our economic outlook is distressed, and there is the possibility of downgrades in credit ratings and the rising cost of debt.It is not just the most severe drought in decades, and rising food prices.It is not just the unsettling effect of legal matters and court challenges.These are considerable challenges, Honourable Speaker. But we can address them –rationally, deliberately, and through the appropriate procedures.Much more disturbing, and more difficult, is the rise in our own communities of anger and discontent, spilling over into violence and destructive protests.Violent protests signal unresolved social challenges. They present immense challenges to the leadership of our higher education institutions, municipalities and community organisations. Highly stressful demands are made on our police and security personnel. Destruction of property diminishes the inheritance of our children.Our social contract is under pressure. It is as if we have put unnecessary hurdles in the way of realising our potential and implementing our development plans.Policy statements sometimes are unclear or conflict.Commitments are made without clear resource plans.Implementation is derailed by institutional instability.Investment is held back by uncertainties and erosion of trust.Vested interests and political contestation interfere with decision-making.Within Cabinet, and amongst committed leaders in business and civil society, we appreciate the challenges before us and are actively engaged in dialogue to confront the weaknesses that hold back our progress.And we owe it to all those involved to revitalise our capacity to negotiate agreements and to find enduring solutions.Fiscal policy and the budget frameworkHonourable Speaker, since 1994 the size of the South African economy has more than doubled, and the tax base has been substantially broadened. Education and health services have been extended, the child support grant introduced, access to electricity, water and sanitation has been expanded.Government debt was reduced as a percentage of GDP from 50 per cent per cent in 1995 to 27 per cent in 2008, and a budget surplus was recorded in 2006/07 for the first time in decades.Then came the great recession. In 2009 and 2010 we were able to respond with an expansionary budget, alongside the Reserve Bank’s reduction in its policy rate from 13.5 per cent to 5 per cent. We avoided the worst of the crisis.But the structure of the global economy has now changed, commodity prices are lower and trade competition has sharpened. Our structural reforms and policy responses have been sluggish, and economic growth has remained below expectation. We now have to rebuild fiscal resilience, and reverse the upward trend in the debt-GDP ratio.This has meant that a ceiling on expenditure increases has been in place since 2012, limiting growth to pre-announced medium term plans. This year’s MTBPS again limits planned expenditure for the period ahead, in recognition of lower growth and the decline in forward estimates of revenue.Careful prioritisation has allowed key social services to expand moderately in real terms, and cost savings have been achieved in spending on goods and services.Taking into account the rise in food prices this year, I am pleased to confirm that an additional increase of R10 a month has been made to social grants with effect from October.The MTBPS outlines a measured, balanced fiscal consolidation. It continues to prioritise capital investment, and stabilises national debt as a share of GDP. In the current year, we now project R23-billion less revenue than the February estimate. Measures are likely to be needed in next year’s Budget to raise tax revenue by about R28-billion a year, while avoiding measures that would inhibit investment.The 2016 tax bills are tabled today, together with the MTBPS. These give effect to the special voluntary disclosure programme that commenced on 1 October 2016, and also extend the employment and learnership tax incentives. Given the demands on the legislative programme, the carbon tax bill will be dealt with in 2017. Consultations on this and the proposed sugar tax are continuing.The budget framework forms part of an enabling environment for investment-led growth, recognising that a turnaround in the business cycle will create opportunities for expansion by South African firms. Infrastructure investment and financing of housing and enterprise development will give greater impetus to growth over the period ahead. As GDP growth accelerates, tax revenue will grow and our capacity to finance public services will strengthen. By taking the right steps now, we lay the foundations for progress ahead.In the international capital markets, we continue to succeed in raising debt despite the tough prevailing environment. South Africa was recently recognised as the “best sovereign debt management operations and issuer” in Sub Saharan Africa by the Global Markets Publication. Debt management initiatives over the past year have reduced government’s refinancing risks and were supported by investors across all the major financial centres in Asia, Europe and the United States. The World Bank has recently commended our debt management framework, indicating that South Africa is now “better positioned to absorb fiscal shocks going forward.”Building on resilience and hopeThe MTBPS cannot provide the details of everything government undertakes. But it sets out the economic context, the trends in revenue and debt, and the framework of spending plans.These are not abstractions or ideological blueprints. These are the numbers that summarise the thousands of data-points that Statistics SA draws on to monitor trends in our economy; these are the actual money flows that pay for public services; these are the aggregated proposals of 163 national and provincial departments, 210 public entities and 257 municipalities; these are the work-plans of a million public servants and the social grants that go to 16 million beneficiaries.It is clear to all South Africans prepared to serve the national interest, that if we act together we can advance on our 22 years of progress, revise course where we have made mistakes, and continue to build a better future.Against the background of extraordinarily difficult circumstances, Honourable Members – the MTBPS brings a message of encouragement, resilience and a delicate and balanced approach.Despite uncertainties in some areas, there is continuity and coherence in our leading policies and programmes.Despite administrative challenges in some institutions, the architecture of government is sound and there is progress in public management.The Constitution, the rule of law and social justice underpin our plans and budget proposals.Our economic and infrastructure initiatives are the support measures we need for steady improvements in investment and growth over the period ahead.We are resilient, and we have sound foundations on which to build. But it is action, to bring clarity where uncertainties remain, to address organisational weaknesses, to bring closure to infrastructure transactions and to accelerate trade and investment – that brings hope. It’s up to us.InclusivityThe MTBPS tells a story of an economy in difficulties but not in decline, of a society that is intolerably unequal but is making progress in addressing its legacy of fragmented communities and discriminatory practices, of a government committed to promoting inclusive growth within a sustainable fiscal framework.As Martin Luther King said: “Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals.”By inclusive growth, Honourable Speaker,We mean opening up opportunities and broadening participation in an expanding economy.We mean meeting the service delivery demands of marginalised communities.We mean decent work prospects for all, over time, and extending the frontiers of education to those who wish to learn.All too often in history, the benefits of progress have been appropriated by narrow elites. War and conquest, colonisation, exclusive trading licenses, protection rackets, monopolisation of markets, secret cartels and discriminatory laws – there are so many ways in which wealth has been accumulated by the few while inequality and class divisions have been entrenched.But we must not lose faith in our vision of a more just society, and our resolve to attain it. No-one should be left behind.Social progress is complex, and the struggle for justice and equality has followed many different paths in different countries. Yet there are some common themes in international experience. There are several dynamics of growth that can promote inclusivity:The quality of education,The pace and pattern of urbanisation and housing development,Industrial development and the expansion of employment, trade and commerce,Social protection services, including access to health care and social security.In each of these areas there is immense potential for broad-based transformation and empowerment and contributing to social equality.But the lessons of history are sobering. Progress towards equality is not assured.In the words of Pope Francis: “Human rights are not only violated by terrorism, repression or assassination, but also by unfair economic structures that create huge inequalities.Inclusive growth depends on how these structures are changed. It depends on laws and policies, on social networks and administrative systems, and how markets are organised. Education will contribute to equality, cities will promote social and economic mobility, markets will broaden opportunities and public services will meet the needs of all – if they are structured to be inclusive, if leadership is far-sighted, if behaviour is transparent and if values are shared.This has implications for our approach to social justice and transformation. In actively correcting for the injustices of the past, we have a choice between extracting privilege and wealth for the few, or wider participation and broad-based empowerment. We have achoice between approaches that merely transfer wealth and approaches that create new enterprises, new assets, new jobs and a more open growth path.Our Constitution, as the founding institution of our democracy, sets out the principles on which we must build.Everyone is equal before the law, and we are mandated to promote equality through legislative and other measures to protect or advance those disadvantaged by unfair discrimination.Human dignity, freedom and security, privacy, freedom of movement and trade, fair labour practices, access to housing, health care and social services, education and just administrative action are amongst the rights protected in Chapter 2.The values and ethical standards that underpin good practice and integrity in public administration are elaborated in Chapter 10.Fiscal and financial principles in Chapter 13 include an equitable division of revenue, measures to ensure transparency, competitive and cost-effective procurement systems and controls over borrowing and guarantees.On these Constitutional foundations, we are enjoined to build inclusive institutions and an open, enterprise-based economy, including measures to redress discrimination and promote equality. We are obliged also to combat tendencies that are anti-competitive, restrictive, discriminate unfairly, take undue advantage of influence or are hidden and fraudulent. No-one should be left behind. It’s up to us.International economic developmentsHonourable Speaker, the global recovery from the 2008 financial crisis remains precarious. Global growth is forecast at 3.1 per cent in 2016 and 3.4 per cent in 2017.Low interest rates and monetary expansion in the United States, Europe and Japan have contributed to continued capital inflows into developing economies. However, this stimulus has had limited impacts on investment, trade or the structural reforms needed to achieve more balanced, equitable global development.In Africa, growth is expected to fall to 1.4 per cent in 2016 before recovering in 2017. Low commodity prices have deterred investment, exposing the lack of diversity in many African economies. More rapid development would be achieved if progress could be made in infrastructure investment and integration of markets. Just 11 per cent of Africa’s trade is internal. Greater cooperation is needed between the larger economies – South Africa, Nigeria, Angola and Kenya, for example.Why do these trends matter? The answer is that we live in a highly inter-connected world.Global growth impacts strongly on developing country exports and investment.These trends, in turn, affect employment and earnings prospects of thousands of businesses and ordinary people.South Africa’s growth and development affects trade and employment opportunities in our neighbouring countries and elsewhere.Low growth and fiscal difficulties have seen several African countries approach the international financial institutions for assistance. This undermines a country’s ability to anchor its own policy course. By taking the right decisions, giving impetus to our own economic recovery, we can avoid this loss of sovereignty.Broader international collaboration is clearly vital. South Africa strongly supports plans by the Group of 20 countries to prioritise economic development of the African continent in the years ahead.The South African outlookThe MTBPS revises our growth expectation for the South African economy to 0.5 per cent for the 2016 calendar year, somewhat lower than the February estimates of 0.9 per cent. For the current fiscal year, the revised growth estimate is 1.0 per cent.We currently expect growth to rise to 1.7 per cent next year. With appropriate policies in place we will see the recovery strengthen more rapidly. Though investment has still to gain momentum, there have been a number of expansion projects announced in mining and manufacturing this year. The first steps have been taken to attract natural gas infrastructure investment into Richard Bay and Coega.Domestic structural constraints continue to limit our growth potential. Our industrial structure is too concentrated and infrastructure networks need to be better aligned to global growth prospects. As emphasised recently by David Lipton of the International Monetary Fund, profit margins in South African companies are often built upon barriers that both hurt consumers and block potential competitors.More rapid and more inclusive growth requires concerted efforts to improve the investment environment, particularly for export-oriented and more employment-intensive manufacturing.In advancing inclusive growth and transformation, Honourable Members, we have to frame our policies and interventions in ways that reinforce confidence and investment.Our destiny is in our own hands. There are various initiatives we can build on:The City Support Programme is bringing together urban planners, business leaders and government officials to strengthen investment incentives and address development challenges in major metropolitan areas.Under Minister Davies’ guidance, Invest SA has established a facility to assist potential investors with the procedures required to meet regulatory requirements.Alongside Minister Patel’s stronger measures to combat collusion and abuse of market dominance, conditions have been imposed on recent merger transactions that will open up retail space in spaza shops to smaller producers.Efforts of Minister Naledi’s Department are contributing to the international competitiveness of South African industrial innovation, including fuel cells, titanium powder, medical devices and composite materials. Construction of the Meerkat array is due for completion at the end of 2017.Over the medium term, resources have been re-prioritised for the Small Business Department, including efforts to strengthen agencies that support small enterprises.To complement this, the CEO Initiative has established a new fund to support the expansion of small firms, providing support through mentorship and market access.The business sector is also developing an internship programme to improve the job-readiness of young work seekers.Some R17-billion worth of investment and 5 000 jobs have been unlocked in the oceans economy. Licences for oil and gas exploration have been issued as part of the sector growth strategy.Active work by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration has brought greater stability in the workplace this year.Honourable Members, we can move the country forward. Speedy resolution of regulatory uncertainty and policy challenges enhances development prospects. Our future is in our hands.Financial sector reformSince 2011, a substantial reform of our financial sector has been undertaken, to make it safer and to serve customers fairly. Legislation to give effect to the “twin peaks” regulatory reform programme is expected to be finalised by the end of this year. It will support inclusive growth in several ways:Costs of financial services will be reduced and made transparent. Unduly high costs currently reduce the returns to savers, and inhibit access of small business to credit.Default regulations will simplify retirement saving options.More competition will encourage innovation. Two new exchanges were licensed this year, and regulations to create a more competitive environment for clearing and reporting trades are being finalised. Consultation will begin on a regime for licensing trade platforms.Disclosure initiatives will make it easier for ordinary South Africans to understand complex financial products.Improvements in the financial regulation and reporting system will assist further in fighting corruption and money-laundering, while providing protection against fraud and systemic risks.I am pleased to confirm that the restructuring of African Bank is complete. It was facilitated by a government-guaranteed loan issued by the Reserve Bank, which has been fully repaid, with interest. Congratulations are due to the curator, Tom Winterboer, on a job well done.South Africa has soundly-capitalised banks, and strong financial institutions. They are well-placed to finance investment and enterprise development as our economic recovery gains momentum.Division of revenue and medium term expenditure plansHonourable Speaker, the MTBPS sets out revenue projections and the proposed medium term expenditure framework for the three-year period ahead.The division of revenue within the main budget takes into account the respective functions of the three spheres of government, and their revenue-raising capacity. The revised allocations to provincial and local government for 2016/17 are set out in the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill. For the period ahead, the MTBPS proposes that provinces and municipalities should be allocated 43.4 per cent and 9.1 per cent of the total, respectively.Changes to this year’s national department allocations are set out in the Adjustments Appropriation. The adjustments include provision for emergency water supplies and animal feed, and compensation for the effect of exchange rate depreciation on the International Relations and Cooperation budget.In the present phase of our development, financing of education has to be our highest priority.We are especially mindful of the need to expand access to post-school education opportunities. But this is not enough: our progress rests on improvements in the entire education system.Minister Nzimande has rightly emphasised that expanded opportunities in our universities cannot rely on government funding alone. Public expenditure on post-school education and training has in fact grown considerably faster than other budget allocations in recent years, and this will continue. At the heart of the issue is that access has expanded faster than resources. As a result, many students face financial hardships that undermine their ability to succeed academically.In addition to the R16-billion added to higher education funding in the February budget, we therefore propose:A further R9-billion for the National Student Financial Aid Scheme over the period ahead, raising its funding by over 18 per cent a year,Over R8-billion to meet the costs of fee increases for students from households with incomes up to R600 000.We will work with the corporate sector and financial institutions to expand bursaries, loans and work opportunities for students. In seeking a balanced, sustainable roadmap for student finance, we appreciate that graduates who go on to earn higher incomes will in due course contribute a share of these gains to the next generation.Honourable Speaker, social sector spending plans outlined in the MTBPS also include:A further expansion in the HIV/AIDS programme, which now reaches 3.5 million people,Increases in the National Health Insurance conditional grant to continue the contracting of general practitioners and bring professional capacity into the School Health Programme,A new conditional grant for employment of social workers,An extended child support grant for orphans, andFunding for 39 000 funza lushaka bursaries for prospective teachers.In support of inclusive economic development, spending plans over the medium term include the following:A proposed R45-billion to promote industrialisation, economic transformation and sustainable resource management,Implementation of the agri-parks initiative, to help small farmers with production, marketing and training,A shift of housing funds to speed up investment in rental housing units and planning of catalytic projects in large towns and cities,Establishment of the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute,Funding for the N2 Wild Coast road, the Moloto road and improved maintenance of both national and provincial roads,High-speed internet access in government buildings, andA supplementary R1-billion for the local government equitable share in 2018/19.Infrastructure investmentMajor infrastructure programmes over the next three years include over R300-billion in transport and logistics projects, R240-billion in the energy sector and R137-billion in water and sanitation.Security of energy supply is a cornerstone of sustainable growth. Within the framework of the Integrated Resource Plan, it has been confirmed that Eskom will take the lead in the nuclear power initiative. The Treasury will work with Minister Brown’s department and Eskom to ensure that the scale and phasing of the programme are in South Africa’s best interests and that the procurement arrangements are transparent and compliant with the law.Our approach to energy security and to meeting climate change commitments also includes a substantial renewable energy programme. Contrary to the views of some, these are sound and sensible long-term investments. A total of 64 projects are already in progress, bringing investment, jobs, clean energy and community development. Minister Joemat-Pettersson and the National Energy Regulator have approved another 37 independent power projects. Once Eskom has signed the offtake agreements, a further R58-billion in investment and some 4 800 construction jobs will commence, bringing 2 354 MW of capacity to the electricity grid.ProvincesA Joint Action Plan for fiscal consolidation has been agreed with the provincial finance MECs. It includes the following:Containment of administrative personnel expenditure while protecting education and health staff and allocations for medical supplies and essential services,Improved revenue collection,Rationalisation and closure of redundant and underperforming programmes and entities,Intensification of cost-containment measures, in keeping with national guidelines.I have visited several provinces in the past two weeks to consult on provincial finances and share the macroeconomic outlook and the fiscal framework.There has been good progress in expenditure management in provinces this year. I need to congratulate provincial leaders for taking the tough steps needed to remain within the agreed budget limits.It is clear that efforts to address misallocations of resources will yield substantial gains. Provinces transfer about R9-billion a year to 71 public entities currently, often for duplicate functions and high personnel costs. Efficiency improvements in infrastructure spending are needed, building on the Standards for Infrastructure Procurement and Delivery Management issued by the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer.Local governmentSimilarly, in municipalities, far more can be done to improve financial performance and delivery of basic services.Additional cost saving measures for municipalities were issued by National Treasury in March 2016. These include savings on travel, consultants, catering, office furniture, events and staff benefits. These will shortly be given force in regulations.Our newly elected municipal leaders have a vital role to play in ensuring delivery of reliable services to all our people and improving the quality of spending. This requires zero tolerance for corruption and wastage of public resources, improved revenue management and better maintenance of infrastructure.More rapid investment in housing, public transport and industrial development in our cities is central to faster and more inclusive growth. I will be meeting with the mayors of our metropolitan municipalities shortly, to hear their plans and suggestions for practical partnerships for meeting basic needs and faster development.National Treasury is also working towards the implementation of the new municipal Standard Chart of Accounts in all 257 municipalities from July 2017. This is a major reform that will improve the transparency and comparability of accounts, allowing for stronger monitoring and oversight of municipal finances.In keeping with our commitment to transparency in the public finances, the National Treasury has launched a new local government budget data portal today, called “Municipal Money”. It provides citizens and other stakeholders with access to comparable, verified information on the financial performance of each municipality. It aims to promote transparency and citizen engagement by providing information about municipal spending in a simple, accessible format.Supply chain managementHonourable Speaker, we have indicated in previous years that supply chain management reforms and transparency are important elements in achieving value for money and combating corruption.As articulated in the ANC’s 52nd National Conference Resolutions: “Corruption is a systemic and institutional phenomenon involving all sectors of society and undermines democratic processes and corporate governance and erodes social cohesion and values. Measures to combat corruption must deal with both those who are corrupt as well as those who are corrupted.”The Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, in just over three years of existence, has taken bold steps to modernise our systems and combat abuses.A Public Procurement Bill is being finalised. It will strengthen accountability and oversight in supply chain management, while providing flexibility and promoting empowerment, small enterprise development and job creation.The Preferential Procurement Regulations are being revised to ensure that at least 30 per cent of government procurement goes to designated groups, including small and medium enterprises, cooperatives and rural and township enterprises.Contracts are being renegotiated with airlines, hotel groups, software suppliers, pharmaceutical companies, property owners and construction firms. This aims to achieve savings of R25-billion a year by 2018/19.The eTender portal was introduced in May last year. It has seen over R80-billion in tenders published, saving R650-million a year in printing and advertising costs.The Central Supplier Database was launched on 1 September 2015, significantly simplifying procurement administration. Over 342 600 suppliers have already registered.I need to urge, again, that legitimate suppliers must be paid on time, in full. Confidence in government is eroded and businesses are sabotaged if payments are delayed, whether through poor planning, administrative shortcomings or other motives.As Kofi Annan wrote in the foreword to the 2003 United National Convention Against Corruption:In promoting development and making the world a better place for all, we are called upon to reaffirm the importance of core values such as honesty, respect for the rule of law, accountability and transparency.Managing risks and liabilitiesHonourable Speaker, the MTBPS includes a “fiscal risk statement” for the first time this year.It highlights several concerns:The impact of slower GDP growth on revenue and debt sustainability,Unplanned expenditure pressures, including growth in the government wage bill,The financial position of several state-owned companies, andThe unfunded liability of the Road Accident Fund.The National Development Plan requires more rapid growth, and clearly this is a pre-condition for achieving inclusive development and transformation. The MTBPS emphasises that low growth is not inevitable – if we take the right decisions, inclusive and more rapid progress can be achieved.Moderation in government personnel spending and the steps that are in progress to improve procurement and supply chain management are important both to ensure a sustainable fiscal path, and as pre-conditions for effective and cost-efficient public service delivery.Reform of our state-owned companies is similarly both about addressing financial vulnerabilities, and about long-term investment and broadening participation in our economy.Guiding principles for the oversight of state-owned companies have been agreed by the Inter-Ministerial Committee led by the Deputy President. These reforms are aimed at achieving stabilisation, coordination and collaboration, rationalisation and consolidation and an improved governance framework. The guidelines include:Development of a shareholder management framework,Principles for private sector participation to promote higher levels of investment in economic infrastructure,A framework to inform the board appointment process, andSeparation of costs related to the developmental mandates from the commercial mandates of state companies.There are a number of processes underway to rationalise state entities. These include the merger of the housing development finance institutions, appointment of transaction advisors on restructuring the state airlines and the possible introduction of a strategic equity partner, and rationalization of government’s shareholdings in the telecommunications sector.Full strength boards have been appointed at SAA and the Post Office.These reform efforts will improve financial sustainability and enhance the delivery capability of state-owned companies in the interest of inclusive growth.In respect of the Road Accident Fund, NEDLAC has completed its work on the proposed Road Accident Benefit Scheme, which will provide a more equitable and affordable benefit arrangement. Legislation now needs to be taken through Parliament.Acting together for a better futureAllow me to summarise again, Honourable Speaker.Inclusive growth is our objective.Our macroeconomic and fiscal framework sets limits to government debt and expenditure, while supporting stronger public and private sector investment.Aggressive implementation of our plans for the real economy is required.Policy initiatives across a wide range of sectors and portfolios are in progress, aimed at broadening participation and enhancing economic development.Transformation rests on a partnership between all stakeholders who share our commitment to inclusiveness in our development path.The national dialogue to seek common solutions and concrete actions to slow growth and poverty has to be intensified. If we do the right things, we will achieve a just and fair society, founded on human dignity and equality.Our Constitution binds us as citizens, government, business, labour, communities, youth and students to work together to give effect to this social contract. It enjoins us to recognise the injustices of our past, and establish a society based on democratic values, social justice and fundamental human rights.Our current challenges place an extraordinary responsibility on all of us. This is a turning point in which if we take the right choices we can achieve faster, more inclusive growth. It is a moment in which we need action – economic, social and political. But it is also a time in which we must reflect carefully: we need to confront long-standing inequalities and forms of domination without creating new ones; we need to widen opportunities without capitulating to opportunism.This is time for us to re-engage in taking our hard-won democracy forward. The voices of workers, activists, business owners and ordinary citizens of all walks of life have been heard. So many South Africans, representatives of business, or labour and of community organisations, have contributed to our engagements on our growth and development challenges this year. Allow me to thank those who have joined us in this discourse, nationally, internationally and in local communities and forums.Courage, hard work and systematic organising are the ingredients we need to meet all the challenges we face.I need to acknowledge the special role that non-governmental organisations and our faith-based communities continue to play in promoting justice, accountability and peaceful resolution of our challenges. Your moral guidance is a cornerstone of the struggle for freedom and the fight against corruption. Enkosi, Umanyano, Ngamandla.Those who are called upon to serve in public institutions have an added responsibility to work with integrity, honesty and accountability and to ensure that their efforts are directed towards the shared interests of all South Africans.Put simply, this means that public funds must not be diverted to private ends. All citizens are entitled to demand accountability and integrity from those who serve them. As Amartya Sen writes in The Idea of Justice, while institutions and rules influence the scope and course of our actions, it is human lives, their experiences and realisation of their potential that is of primary importance.Fellow South Africans, the global trends and our national realities must be recognised frankly and transparently, so that we can assess both the opportunities and risks which present themselves in our historic journey of transformation, inclusive growth and social justice.Fifty-five million South Africans want to see and experience real change in their lives, and continuous progress.For change there has been since 1994: Constitutional democracy, political freedom, economic growth, expansion of public services, rising living standards for many. But not all.And so this MTBPS signals a renewed commitment to inclusiveness in our growth and development strategies. No-one should be left behind.It is tabled at a time of uncertainty, but of hope, of caution, but of opportunity. It’s up to us.Allow me to thank you, Mister President, for your guidance and leadership. My appreciation goes to Mister Deputy President for his wise counsel. I would also like to thank my Cabinet colleagues and members of the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget for their cooperation and support.I also wish to thank Provincial Premiers and Finance MECs, and Municipal Mayors, who share our fiscal and financial responsibilities.Deputy Minister Jonas and Director-General Fuzile have been resolute pillars of support.I know that Members of the House will join me in expressing appreciation to:Staff of the National Treasury,The South African Reserve Bank,The South African Revenue Service, andThe finance family institutions.I am also grateful to the finance and appropriation committees, who have responsibility for steering consideration of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill, the Adjustments Appropriation Bill, the Finance Bill and the Taxation bills.As Oliver Tambo once said: ”We have a vision of South Africa in which black and white shall live and work together as equals in conditions of peace and prosperity.”Ditau tsa hloka seboka di shitwa ke nare e hlotsa – “lions that fail to work as a team will struggle to bring down even a limping buffalo”.Adapting Nelson Mandela’s enduring words:…With freedom come responsibilities,…We dare not linger, for our long walk is not ended.Na Khensa, Ngiyabonga, Ndi-a-livhuwa.I thank you.
Here’s how the post described some of the tests:With the timber structure fully protected by gypsum wallboard, a “large furnishings and contents fire” was halted after three hours “without significant charring on the protected wood surfaces” of the apartment. In another test, some timber walls were left exposed. Once the furnishings and contents of the apartment had been consumed by fire, a protective layer of char formed on the CLT and “the mass timber surfaces essentially self-extinguished.”With all mass timber surfaces left exposed, a single sprinkler “easily contained” the fire. In a related test, the fire was allowed to grow for 23 minutes before the water was turned on, “which quickly controlled the fire.”Finally, with roughly 30% of the CLT ceiling area in the living room and bedroom exposed, the fire essentially put itself out once the furnishings and contents of the room had been consumed by fire. The underlying wood was protected by a layer of char during the four-hour test.Mass timber buildings, made with heavy panels of cross-laminated wood, are an alternative to more conventional steel and concrete high-rise structures. A few large commercial buildings have been constructed in the U.S. and elsewhere with CLT components, as well as a house in southern Canada described in an ongoing blog series at GBA (see Wolfe Island Passive House).Proponents point to a number of advantages of mass timber buildings, including faster construction schedules, lower cost, and a smaller carbon footprint. But the approach has yet to be used widely, in part because mass timber construction is still being evaluated by code officials.Separately, the Woodworking Network said a two-story CLT building is being tested on a special shake table at the University of California San Diego to see how it would handle forces produced by a 6.7 magnitude earthquake, the same as the 1994 Northridge quake in the Los Angeles area. The test, led by the Colorado School of Mines, will help engineers determine whether quake-resistant CLT buildings could be as tall as 20 stories, the website said. Tests evaluated flame spreadThe tests involved two 1-bedroom apartments constructed as if they were in a multi-story apartment building. Scenarios included different arrangements in which some timber surfaces were exposed directly to flames and others were protected. RELATED ARTICLES A New Timber Tower Opens in MinneapolisCross-Laminated Timber Condos Planned in PortlandCan Wood Replace Concrete and Steel in Skyscrapers?Georgia City Bucks Wood High-Rise TrendWolfe Island Passive House Tests at a federal laboratory suggest that cross-laminated timber (CLT) components used in a multi-story apartment building would perform well in the event of a fire. A post at the Woodworking Network described a variety of tests conducted at the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) Fire Research Laboratory for a committee of the International Code Council. Results appear to show that buildings constructed of CLT components would resist the spread of fire.The results are of interest to an ICC ad hoc committee that will recommend building code changes later in the year, Stephen DiGiovanni, the committee chairman, told the Woodworking Network. “These tests are an important part of the extensive research data the committee has reviewed to validate the performance of tall wood buildings,” he said.
Michael Hussey says his axing from Australia’s squad for the cricket World Cup was premature and he could have overcome a hamstring injury to play in the later stages of the tournament.Hussey was dropped from the squad on Tuesday along with spinner Nathan Haurtiz but said he should have been given more of an opportunity to prove his fitness.He cited the example of all-rounder Andrew Symonds who was picked for the 2007 World Cup despite a serious arm injury. Symonds recovered to play a vital role for the team that went on to win the tournament.”The precedent has sort of been set from the last time with Andrew Symonds,” Hussey said Wednesday. “He came in about the third or the fourth game in the previous World Cup and played a really big part in our team, he was an important part of the team.”I was hoping that would be the same sort of thing for me really – that they’d give me every chance to have a crack at it at least. I thought I could push for the second game and definitely be right for the third game.”Hussey’s only chance of being a part of Australia’s campaign at this month’s World Cup is if another player is injured.”I feel like I maybe deserved that chance to have a bit of a go at it, but they obviously saw differently so it’s disappointing,” he said.”It probably just shows that you can’t look too far ahead. You’ve just got to try and enjoy every opportunity you get to play for Australia – every tournament, every World Cup, every game that you get. You’ve got to enjoy every one because it can sort of all end pretty quickly.”advertisementThe Australian team was to fly out Wednesday, hoping to achieve it’s fourth-straight World Cup win.In a column in The Australian newspaper on Wednesday, Australia captain Ricky Ponting said the loss of Hussey and Hauritz might “have a silver lining.””While their experience will be missed, it is important to remember that our one-day side has just completed an imposing 6-1 series win over England without a number of our regular players for most or all of the tournament,” Pointing said.”So, when we board the plane this evening bound for India to defend our proud World Cup record, the 15-man squad will be brimming with confidence.”While nothing will reduce the disappointment of losing the Ashes this summer, the turnaround could not have been more complete during the one-day series. And the late addition of Callum Ferguson and Jason Krejza to our squad yesterday (as replacements for Hussey and Hauritz) sees two players who are comfortable with their game.”Ponting said both Ferguson and Krejza had been in good form.”Callum was a regular and exciting member of the one-day team until he sustained a terrible knee injury that forced him to miss all of last season,” he said.”And Jason is returning to the country where he had so much success, claiming a remarkable 12 wickets during his test debut in Nagpur a little over two years ago.”Ponting said his own recovery from a broken finger was ahead of schedule.”There was a setback when it became infected, so just putting my left hand in my pocket or accidentally bumping my little finger became more painful than holding a bat,” he said.”However, most of the infection is now gone and I had three net sessions last week, which went really well.”
Mumbai: The rupee depreciated marginally by 9 paise to 71.57 against the US dollar in early trade on Wednesday amid unabated foreign fund outflows and cautious opening in domestic equities. Forex traders said concerns about US-China trade spat kept market participants edgy. Rupee and most Asian currencies like South Korean won, Thai Baht, Malaysian ringgit, Japanese yen and Indonesian rupiah were trading lower, they added. At the interbank foreign exchange, the rupee opened weak at 71.50 then fell to 71.57 against the US dollar, showing a decline of 9 paise over its previous closing. Also Read – Thermal coal import may surpass 200 MT this fiscal The domestic currency however pared the initial losses and was trading at 71.51 against the American currency at 0943 hours. The Indian rupee on Tuesday had closed at 71.48 against the US dollar. Traders said cautious opening in domestic equities, strengthening of the American unit vis-a-vis other currencies overseas, rising crude oil prices and foreign fund outflows weighed on the local unit. Brent crude futures, the global oil benchmark, rose 0.67 per cent to USD 59.91 per barrel. Also Read – Food grain output seen at 140.57 mt in current fiscal on monsoon boost Foreign institutional investors (FIIs) remained net sellers in the capital markets, pulling out Rs 923.94 crore on Tuesday, as per provisional data. Meanwhile, the dollar index, which gauges the greenback’s strength against a basket of six currencies, was trading at 98.07, higher by 0.08 per cent. The 10-year government bond yield was at 6.52 per cent in morning trade. Domestic bourses opened on a cautious note on Wednesday with benchmark indices Sensex trading 28.78 points down at 37,612.49 and Nifty higher by 11.50 points at 11,093.85.
CALGARY – Enbridge Inc. says it has reached a deal with the State of Michigan on the aging Line 5 pipelines that run along the bottom of a channel between Lakes Huron and Michigan.The twin pipelines were laid in 1953 and have raised increasing concerns about the potential impacts on the Great Lakes if the 540,000-barrel-a-day pipeline were to leak.The Calgary-based energy company (TSX:ENB) says the deal with the state includes completing an evaluation by June 2018 on three options to eventually replace the 7 kilometre stretch of underwater pipeline, as well as immediate safety measures to reduce the risk of a leak.The replacement options include placing a new pipeline in a tunnel under the Straits of Mackinac, installing a new pipeline below the lakebed using advanced drilling techniques, and digging a trench on the bottom of the Great Lakes and then installing the pipeline within a secondary enclosure in the trench.Opponents of the pipeline have called for its complete shutdown, with concerns on the condition of the pipeline increasing after Enbridge’s admissions in recent months that gaps had formed in its protective coating.The company says the pipeline remains in good shape and is fit for service, and that it already operates it at less than 25 per cent of maximum pressure capacity for enhanced safety.