‘No free lunch’ policy continues

2012-03-10 00:00

NO free lunch and every cent counts remains the name of the austerity game in the KwaZulu-Natal government.

Unlike in other provinces, there was no elaborate budget dinner yesterday. The provincial government is determined to maintain the trend of prudent fiscal austerity. KZN’s finances are currently in the black and there is a billion rand in savings.

Finance HOD Simiso Magagula said a cornerstone of saving this amount of money was to stick to the province’s recovery plan, first mooted in October 2009. “We used to have budget dinners, these are long gone,” he said.

The recovery plan included cutting catering down to a mininum, reduced travel and a host of other cost savings.

MEC Ina Cronjé warned during her budget speech that some departments were slowly slipping back into bad habits and wastage. “We cannot afford to do so,” she said.

Cronjé will continue to crack the whip when it comes to managing the province’s financial resources.

“There must be no wastage. Spend the money in a way that adds value. We are going to be strict on these issues. The PFMA [Public Finance Management Act] gives us teeth to bite with,” the MEC warned.

She said the money saved formed part of a contingency reserve and was to be used for disaster relief.

“This reserve is not meant to be a bail-out in cases of poor budget management, but a cushion for unforseeable expenditure,” she said.

The MEC also called on departments to be vigilant in managing their personnel budgets, particularly the compensation of employees. “It has become apparent that some departments employ additional personnel without the associated budget. This practice must stop. There must be no new appointments without budgets — it is clearly unauthorised expenditure and therefore against the ­PFMA . We will not hesitate to enforce the law where necessary,” Cronjé said.

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