Cautious praise for cuts

2016-03-11 11:45
Finance MEC Belinda Scott said yesterday the provincial budget is expected to remain under tight pressure over the entire period of the medium term expenditure framework, or the next three years.

Finance MEC Belinda Scott said yesterday the provincial budget is expected to remain under tight pressure over the entire period of the medium term expenditure framework, or the next three years. ( Edward West, The Witness)

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Pietermaritzburg - With massive budget cuts that will amount to over R2,9 billion in the next three financial years, political parties cautiously commended Finance MEC Belinda Scott for prioritising education and health in the provincial budget.

Education would get the lion’s share, over 41% of the provincial budget, while health would receive just over 33%.

Political parties were concerned that other departments that took cuts to fund the increased budgets of the health and education departments would feel the pinch in the long term.

The DA provincial spokesperson on finance, Francois Rodgers, said the party welcomed the move by the MEC to prioritise education and health, but said she might have indulged in “double-speak”.

“At one stage she spoke about the NDP, job creation and about building the economy. Yet in fact both education and health are not job drivers. All departments that are job drivers and economy drivers have taken budget cuts to fund education and health. We think she has got the balance wrong in that respect.

“Today’s budget is once again evidence that KZN budgets are formulated on inputs rather than past outputs, indicating that the ANC lacks the capacity to create a capable state which is the vehicle necessary to address the needs of the people,” he said.

The NFP leader in the legislature, Vikizitha Mlotshwa, said the 0,5% percent increase in the education budget would “do very little in addressing the crisis in the department”.

Mlotshwa said the R3,5 billion given to the Human Settlements Department was not enough to expedite the allocation of housing to the poor.

ANC deputy chief whip Nontembeko Boyce said Scott had implemented cost-cutting measures in the right places.

Boyce said the party would ensure that these measures were followed, and that service delivery was not compromised in the process.

EFF MPL Vukani Ndlovu said as much as the Department of Education needed a bigger budget, most of it would be lost through corruption.

Ndlovu said government departments needed to cut back on staff.

ANC provincial secretary Super Zuma said the party was happy that Scott had prioritised the issues closest to his heart: education and health. “We are also happy that funds ring-fenced for service delivery will not be affected,” he said.

Provincial Treasury head Simiso Magagula insisted that the cuts made would not affect service delivery.

• sabelo.nsele@witness.co.za

THE PROVINCIAL Department of Health is set for a “comprehensive” head count to find ghost workers.

The head count would follow one conducted in the provincial Education Department, which had unearthed 4 000 ghost teachers.

Provincial Treasury head Simiso Magagula said the process would be costly, considering that the Health Department is decentralised.

However, the process could help save the department money in ghost employees’ salaries, he said.

PREMIER Senzo Mchunu is set for a salary increase after ANC deputy chief whip Nontembeko Boyce moved an unopposed motion for the approval of a hike in his pay.

Mchunu’s package would increase to R2 173 470 for the year.

The motion followed an announcement by President Jacob Zuma last month of a 4,4% increase for public office bearers.

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