KZN Budget – Implementation the acid test

Johann Krog, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance

The actual implementation of a no-nonsense KwaZulu-Natal Budget, aimed at cutting all unnecessary cost, will be the province’s acid test.

The Democratic Alliance welcomes MEC Ina Cronje’s budget plan. A baseline cut of R833 million and a cut of R1,123 million in the equitable share as a result of the census warrant stringent austerity measures. Those outlined by the MEC are crucial and the DA urges her to ensure that they are enforced across all departments.

The budget has addressed the majority of the DA’s concerns, in particular those aligned to front- line services such as Education, Health and Transport – the issues that most affect the people of the province on a daily basis.

The DA regards the following aspects of the budgets as positive;

* A budgeted surplus of approximately R1 billion per annum over the MTEF period

* The R7billion allocated to education, taking the budget from R35 to R42 billion. The focus must now turn towards implementing the Schools Transformation plan

* The allocation of R5 billion to Health. The focus on school health programmes and services is welcomed.

* The additional R2 billion allocated to Transport with the focus on pedestrian bridges, road maintenance and road safety programmes

* The allocation of R26 million to Safety and Security, part of which is to be spent on Community Policing Forums.

* The R280 million increase to Arts and Culture and the review of a R5 million budget cut to the KZN Philharmonic Orchestra and Playhouse Company.

* The R1.4 billion carry through cost on wage agreement.

* The immediate moratorium on filling of non-critical posts and review of organograms along with cut backs on all Subsistence and Travel and other unnecessary expenditure.

There are however, certain areas that we believe the MEC has failed to deal with. These include;

* Fraud must be addressed at the time of tender. The centralisation of all Supply Chain Management under Treasury with strict control is crucial in dealing with this. Massive sums of public money are being squandered through tender fraud

* Strict guidelines within HR will not work until this function is centralised and organograms evaluated and centrally controlled

* ECOD Budget – while the increase of R2 billion to this portfolio is welcomed, the DA remains concerned that this will not be spent in the right areas. Provincial government continues to plough money into KZN’s public entities which are ineffective and are failing to create jobs. These entities must be rationalised and more must be spent on Tourism in KZN.

* Funds allocated to the dismal One Home One Garden programme must be diverted to promote a One School One Garden initiative – 6 000 schools are better managed than 600 000 odd homes.

The DA is committed to its oversight role in the provincial government and supports the MEC’s cost saving budget. We believe that the MEC’s budget is excellent in theory. The hard part lies ahead in getting every department to put it into practice.

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