The Eastern Cape budget for 2015/16 was tabled in the Bhisho legislature by Finance and Provincial Expenditure MEC Sakhumzi Somyo this morning.
There is nothing to celebrate in this budget. Poor stewardship of the province’s finances erodes our limited resources which is compounded by rampant corruption that did not receive a mention. The province is wobbling along a fiscal tightrope, due to the percentage decline in our equitable share, with the budget increasing by 4.6%, which is below inflation. This means we need to do more with less. The full implication of this issue was not adequately addressed in the budget.
The DA is disappointed that there were no game-changer announcements.
A DA government would free up at least R2 billion of the existing budget in our first year of office which could be utilised to improve infrastructure and stimulate economic growth.Sadly, there is a 20% decline in the budget allocated to Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
The money would come from a combination of the following sources:
- 6000 double parked teachers which cost the province R1.8 billion per year;
- A saving of R1.96 billion a year by offering non-core staff over 60 years of age, retirement packages;
- Eradicating corruption and irregular expenditure which cost the province R2.45 billion in the 2013/14 financial year;
- We would also make saving from the excessive amounts spent on travel and accommodation R429 million in 2013/14 financial year (25% of all provinces);
- The above market rentals which the province pays;
- The excessive cost of infrastructure due to the incapacity of Public Works: we pay R11.6 million per kilometre for roads where the Western Cape is R2.189 million; our province spends 60% more than if the national department builds the same school; and a huge amount of funding is wasted on poorly built houses and in the Eastern Cape 135 000 homes need to be rectified; and
- Savings from excessive use of consultants.
We are disappointed that the Human Settlements Conditional grant has declined by R200 million and that the provincial roads maintenance grant has remained static. We remain hopeful that there will be an additional allocation for rural roads which will assist in uplifting our economy and rural development.
We welcome the increase the Community Library Service Grant, which is up by 40% as well as the big increase in the Education Infrastructure Grant, also up by 40%.
Unless the province makes the right policy choices that will improve the climate for economic growth and job creation we will not win the battle against unemployment.
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