Mostly brickbats and a few bouquets from opposition parties

2012-03-10 00:00

OPPOSITION parties offered mostly brickbats and a few bouquets for KZN Finance Minister Ina Cronjé yesterday.

While they welcomed the increased funding for infrastructure, they felt it did not go far enough.

The IFP called it a “hit-and-miss” provincial budget, while the DA said it did not address some of the “ambitious” plans announced by Premier Zweli Mkhize in his state of the province address (Sopa). The Minority Front gave it the thumbs up.

The IFP’s finance spokesperson, Roman Liptak, said his party welcomed the additional funding for infrastructure.

It would closely monitor whether there were sufficient safeguards for the effective and efficient spending of these funds.

This was necessary, in the light of the province’s poor record on past infrastructure delivery, especially in education and health.

According to Liptak, the budget missed with regard to job creation.

The IFP was disappointed that the support for small businesses by various public entities within the Department of Economic Development did not appear to transcend the existing funding framework.

The party was also concerned about the ever-increasing budget allocations for the youth ambassadors programme — based in the premier’s office — as there were no clear measurable targets and sufficient performance monitoring mechanisms.

DA spokesperson for finance Johann Krog said the budget did not talk to Sopa and it remained unclear how the province would provide complementary finance to certain projects.

“The premier’s plan to ensure that Durban becomes a maritime and shipping repair hub is not mentioned.

“There is also no detail provided on special economic zones or any mention of the financing of the proposed high-speed rail links within the province,” he said.

Krog added that the ANC’s attempt to claim credit for increased funding for maintenance of roads, schools and other infrastructure within KZN was an exercise in political hypocrisy.

“For 15 years the DA has watched as KwaZulu-Natal infrastructure crumbles owing to the neglect of successive provincial governments. The ANC cannot now suddenly claim credit for something which has been underfunded for so long and which must now be rebuilt.”

Krog also expressed concern over the massive budget increases within the office of the premier and the Legislature during the past five years. He said this was a worrying factor given that these budgets are not geared for service delivery to the poor.

“On the positive side, the DA welcomes the undertaking by MEC Cronjé to ensure that money is spent wisely during the forthcoming financial year, along with emphasis on infrastructure development and measures to combat fraud. We also welcome the budget for a surplus of a billion rand.”

Shamim Rajbansi of the Minority Front said the budget met the expectations of her party. She said what was encouraging was that the finance team was creative, and she was pleased that a special bursary fund is going to be set up by the provincial cabinet to help needy students.

• nalini@witness.co.za

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