R3.3bn boost for Gauteng budget

2009-11-17 22:27

Johannesburg - Gauteng's budget will be adjusted upwards by R3.3bn, including R1.4bn for health and education, finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe said in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"The provincial budget is adjusted upward by R1.4bn to cater for the personnel costs to improve conditions of service," Nkomfe said in presenting the 2009 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement to the Gauteng legislature.

These costs related to the Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) for teachers, doctors and therapists and included R530m for more beds in hospitals.

Money for HIV/Aids

Nkomfe said an additional "conditional grant" of R128.8m - not contained in the budget - would go to the increased budget for the HIV/Aids grant.

"Adjustment to the HIV/Aids grant is in respect of meeting the higher demands that arise due to the faster [antiretroviral] take-up rate," he said.

He said R1.3bn had been budgeted to fund the Gautrain loan, including R144m for "unforeseeable and unavoidable" expenditure.

An amount of R400m was set aside for agriculture and the implementation of biotechnology strategy.

An additional R3.1m was allocated to the budget for fighting crime and corruption, not quite as much as the R3.5m for the province's "Learn to Swim" programme.

Food banks and youth-related programmes would be given an extra R15m.

The adjusted budget also set aside R6m to establish a Gauteng planning commission to "improve the capacity of the state to ensure integrated planning in the province," said Nkomfe. A further R10m had been set aside for "branding Gauteng".

Revenues down R208.8m

Nkomfe said that as a result of budget reviews and "reprioritisation", R87.6m had been returned to the provincial budget by departments.

"We plan to increase this amount in due course because reprioritisation is an ongoing process," he said.

The department of economic development had returned R40m, followed by the department of agriculture with R30m. The provincial treasury had given back R17.6m.

Most of Gauteng's budget was allocated by the national government, Nkomfe said, adding that the province's own revenues had declined by R208.8m.

"We want to reiterate the fact that there is no new money within the system.

"As a result, the departments are further urged to be more prudent and cost-effective in their planning and spending," he said.

He said that the departments of health, infrastructure, transport and housing had not yet made "good responses" with implementation of efficiency plans.