Education gets largest chunk of Gauteng budget

By Drum Digital
07 March 2017

The Gauteng Department of Education will receive the lion's share of the provincial budget in this financial year, Finance MEC Barbara Creecy said on Tuesday

Johannesburg - .

Of its R108bn financial spend, Creecy said the education, health and infrastructure departments would receive the largest portions.

The province had increased its budget for education from R39.5bn to R40.8bn, she said.

Key allocations in education would include R3.37bn for direct transfer to public ordinary schools, early childhood development centres, and special schools.

She added that R2.3bn would be dedicated to the special school sector, which caters for learners with intellectual and other disabilities. This included R12.6m in grants and R1.07bn to provide 1.15 million learners with hot meals.

Gauteng has reserved R44.4bn for infrastructure development. The province has split its infrastructure budget, with R31.9bn as its baseline and R12.5bn fenced in as asset finance reserve.

Legacy infrastructure projects

"Our purpose in doing this is to incentivise sound infrastructure planning practice. All projects that are shovel ready are in departmental baseline. Departments that present additional projects that are ready to roll in the course of the financial year will be allocated more money," she said.

This would in turn enable Infrastructure MEC Jacob Mamabolo to introduce the concept of legacy infrastructure projects.

The province would allocate R2.8bn to the central development corridor, which would include human settlement, building and renovation of health centres, and the completion of seven new schools.

In the eastern corridor, R1.5bn in infrastructure spending would be dedicated to human settlement, education spend of R174.6m would go to construction, and health expenditure of R265.1m toward related projects.

She said R1.9bn would be dedicated to the northern corridor, while R1.3bn would go to the western corridor.

Creecy said this year's budget was anchored around improving the province's own revenue collection, sustaining improvement in public finance management to cut waste, eliminating corruption and strengthening public accountability.

'Cutting costs, not services'

The 2015/16 audit outcomes were the best the province has had in ten years, with all departments achieving unqualified audits. Of those, 60% achieved clean audits.

She praised Gauteng municipalities for achieving unqualified audits for the first time.

Creecy added that the province had saved R414m by cutting back on catering, accommodation, corporate branding, and had redirected these resources to core business of government.

In 2016, R386m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure was saved by reducing interest paid on overdue accounts.

"It has never been provincial government policy to save costs by cutting back on services to our citizens. In fact, every effort has been made to protect the budget of health, education and social development."

The health department was allocated R40.2bn.

Source: News24

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