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Graduates tip off Manuel about their tax and student loan burdens

By Staff Writer

From Business Report

January 17, 2008

By INGI SALGADO

With a month to go before finance minister Trevor Manuel
delivers his 2008/09 budget, the Tips for Trevor campaign is in full
swing. This year a big gripe is that graduates have to pay income tax
while they are still repaying student loans.

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Manuel said yesterday that he had received about half a dozen such
complaints, but he expected a flood of further correspondence as the
matter was now being highlighted.

He appealed to graduates: "We've heard the issue. Now help us crack
it ... We can't pay [loans] back on behalf of young graduates. We can't
have a differential tax because it is too hard to administer.

"Those are the constraints ... help us solve the problem."

Tips for Trevor kicked off in 2002 after Manuel was asked on a radio
show to talk to the citizens that his budgets affected.

He received 377 tips in the first year. Since then, about 2 000
suggestions have poured in, excluding co-ordinated campaigns.


Since the last budget speech, Manuel's office has ploughed through more
than 600 tips.Manuel insisted that he personally read all submissions.

One of the cheekiest tips he could recall was the call for a tax break
on lobola.

The tips provide colourful input into the lengthy budget talks of the
world's longest-serving finance minister.

Beyond that, Manuel said they provided "a pulse ... this is a very good
barometer of public opinion about the issues".

Although the budget for the 2008/09 fiscal year was largely complete,
there was room for "nuance", Manuel said.

On the stance he would take at an alliance summit on inflation-targeting
in March, he would only say: "I'll discuss that with the alliance before
It discuss it with the press."
 

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