Budget cuts to fund SAA will compromise Western Cape's health services, says Finance MEC Maynier

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  • The Western Cape's budget is to be cut by R1.47 billion.
  • Conditional grants have been cut by R86.61 million to fund the SAA bailout.
  • This placed the Western Cape health services at risk, said Finance MEC David Maynier.  

In the midst of what President Cyril Ramaphosa called the "worst health disaster our country has seen since 1918", his Finance Minister Tito Mboweni made cuts to the Western Cape's budget which Finance MEC David Maynier feared would compromise health services in the province.

Maynier said in a statement that the Western Cape's budget had been cut by a further R1.47 billion in this financial year.  

"What is worse, is that our biggest fear was confirmed - provincial budgets have been cut to fund the R10.5 billion bailout of South African Airways (SAA)," he said.

According to Maynier, the Western Cape provincial budget had been cut by R86.61 million through cuts to conditional grants to fund the bailout.

The cuts to fund the bailout were as follows:
  • A cut of R30.01 million to the National Tertiary Services Grant which was critical to  maintaining and developing healthcare services at tertiary hospitals such as Groote Schuur, Red Cross War Memorial Children's Hospital and Tygerberg Hospital;
  • A cut of R23.32 million to the Title Deeds Restoration Grant which was critical to restore dignity to the elderly, those with disabilities and backyard dwellers through the transfer of land ownership in the Western Cape;
  • A cut of R19.72 million to the HIV, TB, Malaria and Community Outreach Grant which was critical to delivering an immediate and effective response to diseases such as TB, HIV and malaria in the Western Cape;
  • A cut of R11.51 million to the Statutory Human Resources, Training and Development Grant which was critical to the clinical training and supervision of health science trainees and the increased capacity of the Western Cape's healthcare workforce;
  • A cut of R1.04 million to the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme Grant which was critical to providing effective agricultural support services to smallholder and black commercial farmers, promoting and facilitating agricultural development by targeting beneficiaries of land reform, restitution and redistribution in the Western Cape;
  • A cut of R492 000 to the Ilima/Letsema Projects Grant which was critical to reducing poverty and supporting food security by investing in infrastructure that assisted vulnerable farming communities to increase their production output in the Western Cape;
  • A cut of R453 000 to the Mass Participation and Sport Development Grant which was critical to the well-being and health of communities by facilitating participation in sport and recreation activities in the Western Cape; and
  • A cut of R60 000 to the Land Care Programme Grant: Poverty Relief and Infrastructure Development which was critical to supporting food security by working with communities to sustainably manage natural resources for agricultural production in the Western Cape.

Maynier said this meant that "the bailout for SAA will clearly compromise our healthcare services and the well-being and dignity of those living in the Western Cape by de-funding critical projects that provide food security, that support ownership of property and land transformation and that create jobs in the Western Cape".

"However, there were some positive notes from today's adjustment budget, in particular, commitments to immediate food relief for poor households, support for Early Childhood Development Centres and support for job creation initiatives through the Provincial Roads Maintenance Programme.

"But at the end of the day, the bailout to SAA is unjustifiable and simply wrong."  

Maynier, the DA's spokesperson on finance before he joined the Western Cape government after last year's election, said he was also concerned by the National Treasury's decision to move from a three-year to a five-year debt stabilisation path, which meant there was an elevated risk of a debt default over the medium term in South Africa.

"We will not go down without a fight, and will continue to do everything possible to oppose budget cuts that risk compromising frontline service delivery in the Western Cape."

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