FS budget under fire

2016-11-30 06:00

Opposition parties have criticised Free State MEC for Finance, Elzabe Rockman, for allocating about R31 million to the Premier’s Office when presenting the adjustment budget on Friday (25/11).

The amount includes R2 million originally allocated to the department of police, roads and transport and earmarked for the Harrismith Logistics Hub, and also R13 million allocated for provincial communication.

Referring to funds channelled to premier Magashule’s office, Wouter Wessels of the Freedom Front Plus said the Free State treasury had shown that it has skewed priorities, since it had no new money.

An amount of R257,825 million has been made available for the purposes of the 2016-’17 adjustment budget.

Included in the budget are the nationally approved rollovers of R165,070 million in relation to conditional grants.

An amount of R120,020 million had been identified from within the current allocated budgets on sluggish programmes and projects and this had to be reprioritised strategically towards key government priorities, Rockman said.

The departments of Health, Education, Social Development and Human Settlements are some of seven departments whose funding was reprioritised.

About R43 million was reprioritised for the Department of Human Settlements and R25 million for the Department of Health.

According to Rockman, R8,197 million was reprioritised for the cash-strapped Department of Education.

Of the funds, R17,2 million was allocated for learner and teacher support materials and hostel support programmes.

A further R19,823 million has been reprioritised for the Department of Economic, Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs.

Rockman indicated that the poverty headcount in the Free State remains unchanged at 5,5%, as was the case in 2011.

David van Vuuren, DA chief whip in the Free State Legislature, said the Free State government had to reprioritise money for disaster relief instead of pumping an additional R10 million into the building of sanitation infrastructure required for the yet-to-be-opened Alfred Nzula Hospital in Trompsburg.

He revealed the hospital was R150 million over budget.

The Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation received an additional R25,4 million, which includes R8,5 million for the Mangaung Arts and Cultural Festival (Macufe), increasing its budget to an estimated R45 million.

This year’s festival was initially allocated R36 million.

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