KZN lekgotla talks austerity under State Security veil

2016-02-18 11:35

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Pietermaritzburg - The provincial government is set for further cuts to its budget with the Treasury expected to meet each political head to find out where they can tighten their belts.

In a wide-ranging speech, including stating twice that the local elections will be held in August, Premier Senzo Mchunu told the province’s senior members of government present at the opening the KZN Provincial Lekgotla, “Challenges face us all”. The gathering, which took place just a week before the State of Province Address in Pietermaritzburg, was held amid tight security and under the watchful eye of the State Security Agency (SSA).

Office of the Premier HoD Frikkie Brooks said all communications in the area would be cut by the SSA to protect the confidentiality of the meeting and to avoid information leaking out.

Mchunu said each department had to tackle the rising debt of staff, estimated to be in excess of R1 billion in 2007 and likely to have grown significantly since.

“We need to address our staff’s debt ... A large proportion have garnishee orders attached to their salaries. We recognise that indebted staff are not productive hence we will need to confront this issue,” said Mchunu.

He also called for a summit between provincial government and the various gas and oil companies currently, or anticipating to, explore large swathes of the province’s coastline and hinterland.

Speaking to the media later he said the executive wants to host a summit and invite all oil and gas operators in KZN to account and share who they are and what they represent.

“We are going to call them in ... to find out what they doing and where. Their activities are not widely published. They can’t be exploring [this province] unchecked,” said Mchunu.

He said the tough economic outlook for the country, which is expecting growth at less than one percent, compounded by the drought, made the situation of provincial government that much harder.

Mchunu said the KZN Treasury would be approaching each government department over the coming year to discuss measures on where they can reduce their budget.

“We want to allow the departments to look at their individual situations rather than have wholesale budgetary cuts, and allow the departments to meet the required targets,” said Mchunu.


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