KZN budget: Billions for development

2009-06-23 00:00

KWAZULU-NATAL Finance MEC Ina Cronje announced in her maiden budget speech her government’s plans to inject billions of rands into development, remarking that infrastructural investments will stimulate economic growth and create jobs.

Delivering her budget speech in the KZN Legislature yesterday, Cronje said that reducing government spending on infrastructure during the recession would be a bad decision. She said increased spending mitigates the impact of a recession because it has the effect of stimulating economic growth.

“Expenditure in infrastructure has been very useful in creating employment and improving the competitive advantage of countries, thus minimising the effects of recessions,” she said.

KZN government, said Cronje, will increase infrastructure spending from R9,7 billion in 2008/2009 to R10,9 billion in 2009/2010 and to R12,7 billion in 2011/2012.

The largest portion of this expenditure, she said, is in the Transport Department, which will invest R3,5 billion in 2009/2010, rising to more than R3,9 billion in 2011/2012 in road construction and maintenance.

The Human Settlement Department will spend R2,3 billion, R2,7 billion and R3,1 billion over the next three years.

“Education and Health will spend a total of R5,8 billion and R5,2 billion respectively over the 2009/2010 MTEF (medium-term expenditure framework) on school and health infrastructure.

These are huge investments and, if spent wisely, will create employment opportunities, cushioning our citizens from the devastating effects of this recession,” she added.

The Dube Trade Port and the King Shaka International Airport projects will bereceive additional millions to be completed ahead of next year’s Fifa 2010 Soccer World Cup. Cronje said that, according to a report by Oxford Economics in London, the trade port and the airport will be vital economic catalysts for the province with about 262 000 jobs expected to be created.

The World Cup legacy projects are other investments by the province, said Cronje. She said the Moses Mabhida Stadium, which will host World Cup matches, has been given its last contribution of R150 million. Cronje said the stadium is on schedule. The other upgrades of seven more stadiums to be used as training venues, including Harry Gwala and Princess Magogo, have been allocated an investment of R137 million through the Local Government and Traditional Affairs Department, said Cronje.

The Education and Health Departments have been allocated the lion’s share of the provincial R60,4 billion budget. The Health Department’s total budget increases from R17,4 billion in 2009/2010 to R21,7 billion in 2011/2012. Cronje said part of the programmes that the budget will finance are:

• Combating MDR/XDR tuberculosis,

• Occupation-specific dispensation for professional health workers,

• Combating infant and child mortality,

• Medical goods and services,

• A comprehensive HIV and Aids programme, and

• The hospital revitalisation programme.

“Over the next three years, the Education budget will increase from R24,6 billion in 2009/2010 to more than R30,1 billion in 2011/2012,” said Cronje.

She said the Education Department’s expenditure areas will include:

• Extension of no fee policy to quintile 3 schools,

• Learner-teacher support material,

• Expansion of the schools nutrition programme, and

• School infrastructure.

The baseline for Social Development increases from R1,1 billion in the current financial year to R1,3 billion by 2011/2012 to strengthen child care and protection, care and services to older people and services to persons with disabilities. The increase includes R107 million for early childhood development, said Cronje.

The Transport Department’s budget will increase from R4,4 billion in 2008/09 to R5,1 billion in 2011/2012. The increase will cover expenditure on road infrastructure development and maintenance, public transport operations and continued reconstruction of the Sani Pass roads.

Small- and medium-sized enterprises will be supported so they can contribute to economic growth and create jobs in the light of massive lay-offs, said Cronje.

Health: R21,7 bln

Education: R30,1 bln

Welfare: R1,3 bln

Transport: R5,1 bln

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