DA Eastern Cape Spokesperson for Finance
The provincial budget that is to be introduced tomorrow must create real opportunity for the people of the Eastern Cape. The budget needs to deal decisively with the under expenditure on capital and the rising costs of employees. Education had only spent 30.1% of its capital budget to date, which is the lowest in the country. Overall the province has only spent 46.1% or R1.9 billion out of R4.137 billion of its capital budget. The Democratic Alliance in the Eastern Cape expects the MEC for Finance and Provincial Planning, Phumulo Masualle, to announce a provincial budget in the region of between R57- and R58 billion, consisting of equitable share, conditional grants and own revenue. MEC, give the people of this province a sunshine budget that provide the rays of hope this province so desperately needs. The dark shadow hanging over this budget is the issue of top slicing, under expenditure on capital and the efficiency of expenditure. If we are to provide the sunshine that the people of this province expect, from this budget then we need to deal with these three core issues. The budget needs to set the right environment that is conducive to creating jobs, reducing poverty and improving service delivery. Every rand that this province receives must be efficiently spent. The foundation of a growth friendly environment is clean and efficient government. One again over expenditure in previous years will be top sliced off the total provincial budget (Top slicing occurs when you over expend in a previous financial year and you need to then subtract that amount from the total budget allocation in order to pay for that over expenditure). This means departments other than Health and Education will receive less than an allocation than they normally would. It also means the cost of personnel which is currently at about 80% of the equitable share, will continue to impact on service delivery. The MEC needs to announce a fixed figure for the cost of personnel for this province and this needs to be rigidly adhered to. The consequences of the continued increasing cost of personnel and over expenditure each year means that goods and services budget become less and less. This impacts on the supply of medicines in clinics, blanket and equipment in hospitals, roads maintenance and the maintenance and schools and other buildings. It means suppers stand a strong likelihood of not being paid timeously as payment for expenditure is delayed until the next financial year. The MEC also needs to announce tough measures to ensure that the alarming under expenditure on capital is dealt with. When we under spend on schools and hospitals we are destroying opportunity for people to get ahead in life. Budgets are an ideological issue. However if we adopt the right policy choices this province can become the place of raising opportunity in which the quality of life of all our people can be improved. On Tuesday we will be watching very closely to what extent these policy choices are made.