KZN budget: Health not given due attention, IFP warns

2009-06-23 00:00

The KZN budget speech presented by Finance MEC Ina Cronje yesterday received mixed reactions from opposition parties.

IFP spokesman on Finance Dr Lionel Mtshali said his party is unconvinced by Cronje’s maiden budget speech, which proposed that KZN should spend its way out of the recession.

“Spending without acceptable safeguards against government waste runs the risk of incurring an even bigger overdraft,” he said.

The IFP is also surprised that Health, which previously overspent the most, was given scant attention and mentioned in only five sentences in the budget speech, said Mtshali.

The IFP has, however, agreed with Cronje’s declared urgency in dealing with the challenges of food security and skills development despite the recession.

Said DA finance spokesman Johann Krog: “KZN’s finances are in serious crisis and the provincial government is in denial over the root causes for this.”

Krog said the recession is not the major contributor to the province’s financial woes; rather, it is frivolous over-expenditure over the past three years.

“Massive over-expenditure within several departments, in particular the Health Department, with over-expenditure totalling almost R3 billion over the past two financial years, has left KZN coffers depleted, an issue which the MEC failed to come to grips with in today’s budget speech,” he said.

Cope’s sole member of the provincial legislature, Lucky Gabela, said the budget is positive. However, he said the speech did not illustrate how the issue of over-expenditure by the Health Department would be dealt with.

Jo Ann Downes of the ACDP said that while the speech was generally good, she does not think enough money has been allocated for the Health Department.

Downes said the ANC should use public/private partnerships to tackle classroom shortages and consider renting classroom space for the time being. She said this option would be cheaper than allocating capital for new classroom.

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