Eastern Cape Planning and Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle delivered the provincial budget on Thursday, which he promised will speed up service delivery and improve education and health.
The bulk of the province’s close to R60-billion budget went to health and education, which have been plagued by perpetual over-spending over the years.
The Department of Health has been allocated R16.5 billion and this is expected to increase to R51.8 billion over the next three years. Some of the health budget is expected to go towards the completion of the Cecilia Makiwane Hospital Phase 3 project, which will provide a nursing training college and accommodation.
The department was reported to have recorded a significant improvement in infrastructure spending of R1.06 billion (76%) of its infrastructure budget at the end of February 2012 as compared to the same period in 2011.
Education gets R26.9 billion, totalling to R85.8 billion over three years. Masualle said the bulk of the money would go towards the provision, maintenance and rehabilitation of education infrastructure and facilities.
He noted that while the Eastern Cape continued to make inroads to better the livelihoods of its people, the province suffered from devastating floods, which destroyed its infrastructure and left many families destitute.
Masaulle reported drastic improvement in infrastructure spend. The total provincial infrastructure spend at the end of February 2013 was recorded at R5.4 billion or 73.5% of the total adjusted infrastructure budget. This is an improvement when compared to the February 2012 expenditure of R3.7 billion.
The MEC acknowledged that the establishment of the Centralised Project Management Unit (CPMU) improved infrastructure delivery in the province. This unit made significant strides in escalating performance in the 2012/13 financial year, he said.
He announced that for the first three quarters of 2012, the provincial economy grew at an average annualised rate of 2.2%.
Despite modest economic gains, certain sectors of the provincial economy have performed reasonably well and these include mainly Agriculture and Construction.
The agriculture sector recorded an average annual growth of 4.5%, followed by construction at 4.1% for the first three quarters of 2012.
Provincial manufacturing, which is dominated by the auto industry, managed to modestly grow at 2.3% per annum over the same period. Masualle said some of the reasons for the sector’s modest performance include a low growth in manufactured exports and subdued vehicle sales, particularly within export markets. The manufacturing sector managed to generate more than 19 000 jobs in 2012.
“This picture suggests that we should double our efforts to grow the provincial economy to higher levels,” he said. – SAnews.gov.za