THREE Wits students were named the country’s brightest young economists, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan in his Budget speech last week. The economics students – who were named at a gala event on the same day – were among the winners in the Nedbank and Old Mutual Budget Speech Competition.

Khethinkosi Dlamini came second in the postgraduate category and received R60 000.  Maria Garanchu placed third and received R25 000. Terry van Staden came third in the undergraduate category and won R10 000

All three students had the opportunity to sit in on the budget speech in Parliament last week.

The undergraduate category of the competition involves writing a research essay and answering a question on  the New Growth Path and Industrial Policy Action Plan. The postgraduate entrants had to evaluate fiscal policy between 2008 and 2011.

Wits had six finalists overall. The finalists spent four days in Cape Town leading up to the announcement.

Wits has a strong record of winners in this annual competition, and the university  has taken first place twice over the last four years. Dylan Smith from Rhodes University scooped first place in the postgraduate category. University of Cape Town student Sizwe Moagi was the winner in the undergraduate section of the competition.

The competition began in 1972. Until 2005, the first prize winner in the postgraduate category won a bursary towards study at the University of Cambridge.

The adjudication panel consisted of Dennis Dykes, Johann Els, Phakamani Hadebe, Anthony Julies, Rian le Roux, Mandla Maleka, Debra Marsden, Maureen Mashiane, Nazmeera Moola and Patrick Ntshalintshali.

The students also had the chance to talk with the Minister informally throughout the gala dinner.

The winning essays can be found here.