MEC announces FS’s budget

2018-03-21 06:01

Free State MEC for Finance Elzabe Rockman has tabled the provincial department’s budget on Wednesday (14/03) at the Gariep Dam.

This year the province’s allocation is R34,8 billion.

Rockman said provision has been made for conditional grants, earmarked funds from national departments intended for the implementation of national priorities, as well as to supplement provincial initiatives.

“In 2018-’19 R7,5 billion has been allocated as conditional grants. This amount marginally decreases in 2019-’20 before it is projected to increase to R8 billion in 2019-’20,” said Rockman.

She said in the forthcoming financial year, the Department of Education will benefit for the first time from the performance based incentive grant for infrastructure in the amount of R133,5 million and this amount is included in the total education infrastructure grant allocation of R755 million for 2018-’19.

“This is because of improvements achieved with infrastructure planning,” Rockman explained.

The department has been allocated R13,5 billion for 2018-’19, and expected to spend more than R43 billion over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF).

The Department of Health allocation is R10,4 billion in 2018-’19, and is expected to spend more than R33,3 billion over the next MTEF period.

Rockman said the allocations make provision for the following priorities, amongst others: medicine, medical supplies and medical waste, laboratory services, blood supply and services, food services and relevant supplies infrastructure and non-infrastructure maintenance, children’s vaccines, anti-retroviral treatment and medical depots.

The Department of Social Development has been allocated R1,2 billion.

“This budget makes provision for a cost-of-living increase of 5,3% for 2018-’19,” said Rockman.

The Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation’s budget is R727 million.

Rockman said the budget caters for, amongst others, provincial library and archives services, infrastructure development, arts and culture, recreation and heritage as well as the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) programme.

The Human Settlements Department has been alloca­ted R1,3 billion.

According to Rockman this department is expected to spend more than R4,3 billion implementing its key sector priorities this forthcoming term.

The Department of Public Works has been allocated a budget worth R1,6 billion, which is inclusive of R410,4 million earmarked for municipal services and property rates and taxes as well as R127,3 million ring-fenced for township revitalisation projects.

Police, roads and transport’s budget is R2,7 billion.

Rockman said part of the budget was for the construction and maintenance of the horrible provincial road network and oversight over policing and promotion of community policing.

Agriculture and Rural Development has received R810,4 million.

According to Rockman the budget makes provision for land care programme, support and training of farmers, veterinary services, infrastructure investments and implementation of agricultural projects.

The Department of Econo­mic and Small Business Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs has received R631,9 million.

This allocation provides for the following priorities, creation and support of black industrialists, environment programmes and conservation, waste management and support of small, medium and micro-enterprises and corporative. Three entities under this department, the Free State Gambling, Liquor and Tourism Authority as well as the Free State Development Corporation have received R112,3 million, R117,7 million and R42,8 million.

The Office of the Premier has received an allocation of R611,2 million, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs R443,3 million and the Free State Treasury R347,8 million.

According to David van Vuuren, DA chief whip in the Free State Legislature, the provincial government’s budget does not address the province’s dire economic situation, unemployment crisis and poor service delivery.

“For several years, the Free State has experienced a negative economic growth (-0,2% in 2017) with a steadily increasing unemployment crisis. The official current unemployment rate is 32,6% while it is at 39%.

“This means that out of a total labour force of about 1 195 million people, about 480 000 Free Staters are unemployed.

“This is a massive crisis and places additional strain on the provincial government’s social assistance programmes, which incidentally is where the bulk of the R34,8 billion budget was allocated to,” said Van Vuuren.

Rockman announced a reduction in the equitable share by R411 million and conditional grants funding by R892 million from the National Treasury over the next three years, a loss of R1,3 billion.

“This is a problem created by the ANC in its entirety, and considering the VAT and overall tax increases announced by the former Minister of Finance, Malusi Gigaba, it is a slap in the face of the people of the Free State who will have to pay more, but will receive less from the provincial government.”

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