KZN Budget: ‘Very little in the kitty’

2019-03-07 15:56

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KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott, who will table her budget at the provincial legislature today, is caught between citizens’ demands for expanded public services and a shrinking fiscus.

Government income streams, such as licensing and other levies, drying up and a general slowdown in economic activity have in the past compelled the provincial government to cut down spending on key programmes.

With the upcoming general elections on the horizon, further cuts in today’s budget could upset some voters in the province, many of whom rely on government hand-outs to get by.

However, opposition parties want Scott to look citizens in the eye and tell them that there is very little left in the kitty.

“We want her to be honest and present a budget that is a true reflection of the difficult situation which the provincial government is currently in — she should resist the temptation to raise the expectations of voters ahead of an elections,” IFP provincial finance committee member Lourens de Klerk said.

The DA said Scott must not be scared to tell the citizens that there was very little to expect given what the official opposition claims to be “many years of ANC mismanagement”.

“A look at this year’s budget also makes it clear that KZN’s ANC-led government will not be in any position to address key challenges within the province such as job creation, health, education and crime. In short, it is a budget of ‘no hope’ for the people of KZN,” DA provincial finance committee member Francois Rodgers said.

He warned the province’s revenue could drop to levels where it would not be able to function. “The question is whether the province is able to sustain this revenue generation during the current economic climate. Of further concern is the continued over-expenditure within the province’s Health and Education departments, which ultimately compounds the problem of a balanced budget,” he said.

In her budget speech last year, Scott announced a raft of austerity measures, reducing government spending by a whopping half a billion rands.

The National Freedom Party (NFP) urged Scott not to cut back on essential programmes such as housing and health. “This province has one of the biggest housing backlogs in the entire country and as such we can’t afford to keep on denying our citizens the right to have a roof over their heads,” NFP finance committee member Happy Khuzwayo said.

Health facilities in most rural areas, Khuzwayo said, were not functioning optimally due to a shortage of nurses and other medical professionals. “So, if you cut on health, you are actually signing the death warrant of those people who live in rural areas where there is already a critical shortage of nurses,” she said.

Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  kzn budget

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