FS budget has no space for drought relief

2016-03-16 06:00


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NO money has been allocated for drought relief in the 2016-’17 financial year.

This is according to the Free State MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman.

Rockman tabled the R30,8 billion provincial budget for the 2016-’17 financial year at the Bloemfontein City Hall on Thursday (10/03).

According to the MEC, drought relief will be handled by the national government.

The CEO of the provincial treasury, Godfrey Mahlatsi, said the national treasury is yet to allocate the R1 billion set aside for drought relief to provinces.

“We suspect that the national treasury will prioritise the five provinces hardest hit by the drought,” Ma­hlatsi said.

During the budget vote, Rockman mentioned that the national government has also set aside R137 million to deal with the effect of other disasters.

So far, the provincial treasury has spent R42 million on drought relief.

The total budget allocation for the Department of Agriculture and Rural Deve-lopment is R745 825 million for the 2016-’17 financial year.

Free State education has received the biggest chunk of the provincial budget, at R12,060 billion.

The Department of Health received the second biggest allocation Z R9,048 billion.

Rockman said the Department of Education has managed to settle the full amount of R270 million for accruals from prior financial years.

Mahlatsi added that the department itself had paid off the debt by tightening internal financial controls and ensuring that available funds were spent efficiently. Education is, however, projecting an over-expenditure of not more than R300 million.

The Department of Human Settlement was allocated R1 335 million, whilst the Department of Police, Roads and Transport was allocated R2 586 billion.

Rockman said the Department of Sports, Arts and Culture was allocated R655 128 million, with R36 million of that amount reserved for Bloemfontein’s annual Mangaung Cultural Festival (Macufe) 2016.

The Department of Economic and Small Business Development, Tourism and Environment was allocated R493 548 million.

The Public Works and Infrastructure Department was allocated R1 486 billion, while the Office of the Premier received R309 644 million.

Political parties had mixed reactions to the provincial ­budget.

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