DA’s first provincial budget focuses on health, education and job creation

2010-03-03 12:36

TAKING his cue from Premier Helen Zille’s drive in her state of the

province address to create an “open, opportunity” society for all in the Western

Cape, the province’s 2010 budget aims to facilitate investment and trade, with a

major focus on improving health and education.

In the 2010 provincial budget speech yesterday, Finance, Economic

Development and Tourism MEC Alan Winde noted that this was the first budget

fully controlled by the DA. Winde’s inaugural budget had been planned by the

province’s ANC predecessors.

Free to develop DA objectives in the province with the R33 billion

at his disposal for the 2010/11 financial year, he unobtrusively criticised

national government’s focus on social welfare by noting early on that

“governments do not grow the economy and create jobs, businesses do”, thus

encouraging investment that created jobs was paramount to reducing

poverty.

He did, however, praise national government’s “expansionary

macroeconomic policies” and infrastructure investment which muted the impacts of

the global recession on the local economy.

This, in part has resulted in predictions for the provincial

economy to grow by 2.6% in 2010, 0.3% above national forecast figures.

Although last year’s recession meant a R69 million projected

shortfall in national revenue resulting in less money available to provinces,

the Western Cape’s R33 billion for 2010/11 is 14.49% up on last year’s

figure.

The money, he said, is allocated across 10 identified strategic

objectives.

These included:

  • Creating opportunities for economic

    growth and job creation (9%);Education (35.7%);

  • Transport (11.1%);

  • Health (36%);

  • Fighting crime (0.86%);

  • Housing (6.2%);

  • Sustainable resource development

    (0.92%);

  • Social cohesion (0.87%);

  • Poverty reduction (3.67%); and

  • Improving governance (1.6%);

The largest allocations went to improving health and education

services, which take up over two thirds of the budget, health pipping the post

at R11.96 billion, with education getting R11.85 billion for 2010/11.

Focusing on these priorities would ensure a healthy and “robust”

workforce.

The education budget would be spent on increasing the Grade 3, 6

and 9 literacy and numeracy levels by at least 10% by 2012, improving the matric

pass rate from its current 75.71% to 80% in this year, and reducing the number

of schools with a below 60% pass rate from 85 to 55 by the end of this financial

year.

Money would also be spent on “strengthening accountability”,

improving teaching skills for teachers and managerial skills for principals,

providing quality “text materials” to schools and spending on school

infrastructure.

He said with 3.8 million people in the province (73%) relying on

state healthcare services, the department would focus on “managing the burden of

disease through improving child and maternal health” and aimed to reverse the

spread of HIV/Aids and TB.

He said the provision of antiretroviral treatment would be expanded

from the current 68 000 patients to more than 90 000 this year.

With transport another big budget item, getting R3.69 billion, the

province plans to create a public transport system that will result in shifting

13% of private transport users travelling into Cape Town, onto public

transport.

This would be done by “promoting improved rail transport,

supporting integrated transport networks through infrastructure provision, and

formalising the minibus taxi industry”.

As part of the push to enable economic development and create jobs,

the province is to provide the Department of Agriculture with R1.4 billion over

three years to provide support to land-reform beneficiaries and, together with

farmers and industry, increase agricultural production 10% over the next 10

years.

Job creation also falls to the Department of Economic Development

and Tourism, whose target is set at establishing or expanding 4 500 small, micro

and medium-sized enterprises, creating more than 9 000 job opportunities.

Putting a political edge to his speech, Winde said the province,

the only one led by the opposition, would “not go down that road” of “increased

corruption and poor financial systems” which hampered delivery in other

provinces and municipalities, and repeated the mantra: “we must do more with

less”.

– West Cape News


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