Rachel Theron wins first runner up at budget speech competition

Posted by Melt van Schoor on 2017-03-06

Congratulations to Rachel Theron (centre in picture), a current Master's student at the Department, who received 1st Runner Up prize at the annual Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition. For the postgraduate entry essay, students unpacked the viability of the proposed National Health Insurance (NHI) programme for South Africa given current fiscal constraints, and reviewed the appropriate funding models for rolling-out NHI. Based on international experiences, Ms Theron recommended a combination of direct taxes and payroll taxes, but stressed a prudent and gradual implementation over the medium to long term. In the meantime, a social health insurance system could facilitate the process toward universal health coverage.

Ms Theron’s essay earned her a place among ten short-listed finalists for the face-to-face interview stage of the competition. After an exciting two days of interviews, training activities and media events the students attended the much-anticipated 2017 Budget Speech at Parliament on February 22. That same evening, at a dinner hosted by Nedbank and Old Mutual, the winners and runners-up were announced. Business and government leaders, together with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan as guest of honour, gathered to celebrate the brilliance and promise of these young economics students. The feedback from all involved was wholly positive and serves as a great encouragement for prospective students at Stellenbosch University.

Here are a few words from Rachel:

I would strongly encourage anyone to enter the Budget Speech Competition.
It is a well-run event, with wonderful opportunities, which ranged from engaging in a fun “Budget Simulation Game” over a sumptuous breakfast at the V&A Waterfront, to getting advice from Trevor Manuel. While the interview was pretty nerve-racking, the spa treatment that we received prior to it and the spectacular view of Cape Town from the hotel certainly helped to calm the nerves.
We got a fair amount of media training and exposure. I got interviewed on CNCB Africa and featured in the Cape Times. The media industry is fascinating and the knowledge that we gained was invaluable.
I was extremely inspired by the other finalists' commitment to making a change in the economy and economic policy matters, as well as their enthusiasm to constantly engage in constructive debates about the economy and economics.
The experience will truly stay with me forever.

(Thanks to Hylton Hollander for putting together this article.)

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