Eastern Cape Provincial budget expectations

Bobby Stevenson MPL

Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Leader and Spokesperson on Finance

The provincial budget for the 2013/14 financial year which will be introduced in the Bhisho Legislature tomorrow by the MEC for Finance and Provincial Planning must set the right environment that is conducive to creating jobs, reducing poverty and improving service delivery.

Until the province is prepared to deal with the bloated an inefficient civil service, it will never have the resources to meet the challenges of the Eastern Cape. MEC Masualle promised to address this last year, and nothing has happened.

The foundation of a growth-friendly environment is clean and efficient administration.

The DA expects Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle to introduce the annual budget in the region of R60 billion, consisting of provincial equitable share, conditional grants and own revenue. It is expected that 75% of the budget will be allocated to education and health.

He will be doing so in the context of tight fiscal space, brought about by declining tax revenues, the consequences of the 2011 National Census and the top-slicing needed for unauthorised expenditure.

I expect the MEC to focus on the following areas:

* How economic growth in the Eastern Cape will be stimulated;

* The rising cost of state employees, which amount to 70% of the equitable share component of the budget;

* The consequences for poor financial management and maladministration;

* The implications of the R5,1 billion cut in the equitable share of the province, over a three-year period, due to the results of the 2011 National Census;

* The under expenditure on capital;

* Civil servants doing business with the province; and

* The implementation of the National Development Plan in the Eastern Cape.

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 Thursday we will be watching very closely to what extent these policy choices are made.

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