Opposition gives guarded thumbs-up to budget

2010-03-05 00:00

DESPITE being critical of some of the issues raised in the provincial budget presented by Finance MEC Ina Cronje yesterday, opposition parties were generally supportive of the R70 billion provincial budget.

The official opposition, the Inkatha Freedom Party, said that while it appreciates the ANC’s continued commitment to solving KwaZulu-Natal’s socio-economic challenges, it does not believe that poverty and unemployment can be eliminated fast enough by excessive regulation and patronage through government control of public resources.

The leader of the IFP in the legislature, Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi, said the IFP is hoping for a radical review of funding for money-gobbling public entities such as the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund.

“The IFP remains supportive of the provincial government’s effort to stabilise KwaZulu-Natal’s wobbly public finances.

“It is encouraging that the province is budgeting for a surplus, but we are sceptical about the possibility of achieving it given anticipated unfunded mandates, runaway wage agreements and inherent inefficiencies within the provincial government,” said Buthelezi.

The IFP also applauded the planned extension of HIV and Aids programmes as well as the renewed commitment to improving basic education and skills development.

ANC provincial secretary Sihle Zikalala said it is encouraging to note that what was presented in the ANC’s election manifesto will now be translated into the government’s programme of action.

Democratic Alliance finance spokesman Johan Krog said the ineffective public service is the root cause of KwaZulu-natal’s financial woes.

“With more than half of the provincial budget currently apportioned to personnel wages and salaries, there is very little room to manoeuvre funds and it is practically impossible to free up monies for infrastructure maintenance and development.

“The financial crisis in this province has nothing to do with a recession and everything to do with an ineffective civil service, poor financial planning and a culture of self-indulgence and self-enrichment that has permeated government ranks,” Krog said.

Krog said his party will call for immediate streamlining and the realignment of personnel within all departments.

This will need to be done, the DA spokesman said, in order to free up funds to deal with provincial government’s priorities of health, education and crime, and improve the quality of life of poor and vulnerable people in the province.

The DA endorsed Cronje’s commitment to increase public spending on school nutrition programmes; no-fee schools; infrastructure development programmes aimed at creating more jobs; and the provision of clean, potable water to over 100 000 households.

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