KZN is R948 mln in the black, schools to get R45 mln bonus

2011-11-25 00:00

THERE were kudos all round, even from opposition parties, when KZN Finance MEC Ina Cronjé announced that the province has a healthy surplus of R948 million.

Delivering her adjustment estimates budget speech in the legislature yesterday, Cronjé said this means there is a financial cushion in case of disasters or sudden emergencies.

Premier Zweli Mkhize thanked the Treasury team and said the fact that the province had fully paid its overdraft had contributed to the surplus.

“We planned to pay the overdraft over three years. However, through strong fiscal discipline the money was paid in 18 months. Instead of paying interest we are now earning interest,” Mkhize said.

Cronjé said the infrastructure “crack” team, whose technical expertise is helping fast-track projects, also helped to save costs.

The Education Department received the biggest share of the budget adjustment. KZN has the largest education department in the country.

Cronjé said the good news for municipalities is that the R45 million interest the provincial government has earned has gone to assist schools that have fallen behind in paying for their municipal services.

But, she added, the department still has serious budget pressures, mainly to pay personnel. She said the Treasury is making an in-depth study with the Education Department to see what adjustments can be made to better manage costs.

The Democratic Alliance spokesperson for finance, Johann Krog, said that overall KZN’s finances are in better shape than they have been for some time. Krog

He appealed to Cronjé to ensure that austerity measures remain in place and cautioned against a bloated bureaucracy, saying personnel must be employed when they are absolutely necessary.

“Too big a civil service was a major contributor to Greece and Italy’s woes and our country’s increase from 31% to 42% of compensation of employees within government structures will become a major problem in the event of an economic crisis,” Krog said.

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