Good news KZN budget

2011-03-09 00:00

A FINANCIALLY healthy KwaZulu-Natal dished out a good news R78,2 billion budget yesterday. Money was found for previously neglected areas and there was still a surplus kept as a cushion for rainy days.

Finance MEC Ina Cronje’s prudent fiscal management and extensive cost-cutting measures stretched the provincial budget team to be creative in finding money within the province to make up for a slight cut in funding from national government. The cut was due to various adjustments to the formula used to allocate equitable shares from national government.

More than R48 million of the money found from within the province is going to the maintenance of the provincial roads network and sorting out the pothole problem.

Another neglected area to receive attention are the dilapidated royal palaces that have long been an embarrassment to King Goodwill Zwelithini. A further R8 million found within the province will go to the upgrading and refurbishing of the palaces. Head of Provincial Treasury Simiso Leslie Magagula said the palaces have not been rehabilitated for years and the amount set aside will give the Royal Household Trust an asset base to start with.

Money within the province was found from the existing surplus — money that had gone to service the overdraft, which has been paid off, and from a 0,04% cut in the budget allocation to each department.

In the overall budget, provincial roads will be upgraded to the tune of R269 million in 2011/12, R479 million in 2012/13 and R653 million in 2013/14. The government will spend more on education, transport and health infrastructure, but less on housing, and work will continue on the Dube Tradeport and the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone.

Once more education received the lion’s share — R32,6 billion — more than R3 billion over the previous year. Cronje said the increase will help fund no-fee schools. Close to 80% of KZN schools are no-fee schools. More funding will also go to the school nutrition programme.

The MEC said the province has achieved a surplus of R1,8 billion.

As expected, job creation forms a key component of the Budget. Cronje disclosed that the provincial government will spend about R72 million in 2011/12 on external bursaries for new matriculants and unemployed youth, adding that they will spend R19 million on internal bursaries.

Magagula said this forms an integral part of efforts to groom, support and skill homegrown talent in KZN in order to build the much-needed human capacity that is in short supply in the province.

The Treasury team said preparing this year’s budget was a lot easier because of the financially healthy situation of the province. Cronje assured the people of KZN that the province will never be in the red again. She said the provincial government is committed to ending this financial year on a positive note once more.

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