While there are certain announcements in today’s Gauteng Provincial Government budget that are welcome, unfortunately the speech by Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe left more questions than answers.
Next year’s expenditure will be virtually the same as this year’s, some R69bn. The fact that there is no increase is unrealistic and not credible, when the province’s revenue will go up by 7% to R73,5bn. What does the provincial government intend to do with the extra R4.5bn cash?
The MEC said some of the right things and the Democratic Alliance welcomes proposals that there will be a reduction in unpaid invoices, a curtailment of wastage and a reduction of non-core expenditure measures to fight corruption. Measures to ensure projects such as the building of schools and hospitals are also proposed.
However, the MEC has a record of saying the right things but being unable to deliver.
The DA welcomes the announcement of the building of hospital facilities at Natalspruit and particularly at Jabulani in Soweto, which will relieve some of the pressure on Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital. We note that this project has been delayed for 5 years now. The DA is also disappointed that the amount set aside for Health infrastructure has gone down from R2.2bn originally budgeted for, to only R1.5bn.
The DA welcomes the increase in money spent on building housing but we are dismayed that the Education facilities budget has been reduced by R200m. The amount set aside for roads has also gone down by a similar amount.
The MEC explained that he was not allocating more money to building infrastructure because the departments do not have the capacity to spend it. This is a disgrace and people who are not able to plan or to stick to a plan should be fired. Why has there been no effective attempt to engage the assistance of the private sector?
There is money available for these projects and failure to carry out the projects represents lost job opportunities.
The budget document reveals that the province will overrun this past year’s budget by R1bn, which is over and above an adjustment already made previously, with the Health department being responsible for virtually all of the R1bn overrun.
Mike Moriarty, DA MPL