Budget Debate on Premier’s Office Budget Vote Northern Cape Provincial Legislature

Independent Democrats:  Hon. Harold McGluwa, ID MPL DA Provincial Chairperson

Honourable Deputy Speaker, Honourable Premier, Honourable MECs, Honourable Members, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good leaders are those who understand the value of individual liberty and economic freedoms for citizens in society. It is these leaders who lead provinces that create wealth, prosperity and economic growth for all.

Effective political leaders ensure individuals live in an open opportunity society.

There are six key components of an Open Society:

1. A constitution that enshrines the rule of law, individual rights and freedoms, and the separation of powers.

2. Transparency and accountability, without which governments abuse their power and compromise the freedoms enshrined in the constitution.

3. Security of person and property.

4. An independent and free-thinking civil society, including a free and independent media. There must also be an independent political opposition that is loyal to the constitutional order.

5. A general tolerance of difference on the part of the population.

6. An economy that is characterized primarily by the free choices of individuals.

All six aspects of an open society are the primary responsibility of a Premier to lead in government. These are the values to which we hold this administration accountable.

A strong and dedicated Office of the Premier can build an efficient, transparent, responsive and corrupt-free government.

Hon. Deputy Speaker the Office of the Premier has had a rough year indeed.

The illness of the previous Premier, Mme Hazel Jenkins, in 2012 was a sad time. We are glad to hear that she is recovering at home with family around her.

However Deputy Speaker, the Office of the Premier has been done a great disservice since then.

The appointment of subsequent Acting Premier has been disappointing. We have gone through a confusing period in which there was effectively little leadership.

The lack of leadership as a result of the instability had terrible consequence. We could see this during some of the scandals which occurred in the province. For example;

  • The Department of Health and Public Works, have still not resolved the crises of the Mental Hospital, and this after hundreds of millions of rands have gone into this project.
  • There was a lack of leadership for months of political chaos which affected the schooling of learners in Oliphantshoek.
  • There was chaos as the school learner transport services collapsed in some parts of the province under the watch eye of the Transport, Safety & Liaison department.
  • We have a situation of MEC’s, Senior Managers and officials in

this government facing serious charges, and yet the Premiers Office has shown no leadership in this regard and no action was taken from the Acting Premiers Office.

Hon. Deputy Speaker in reality, it is not all doom and gloom. The current Budget and Annual Performance Plan holds some really good intervention and priorities.

We welcome the outlook of the department for the 2013/14 financial year. There are three proposed interventions which we seek to welcome the most;

1. The Premier and her DG’s undertaking to make inputs and contributions in various platforms to ensure the success of the project to establish a university.

2. The allocating of the Provincial Aids Council under the Premiers office, and the work done to capacitate it, are commendable.

3. The development of a province-wide Human Resource Development strategy.

Indeed the breakdown of the budget makes for interesting reading.

The Budget

The Department has received just over R167-million (R167 828 000) in 2013/14.

The source of the funding is the Equitable Share, and receives no Conditional Grants.

The Department collects a series of receipts, mainly f rom PERSAL related transactions, and other transactions, totalling R200 000.

The ID notes that the portion from the equitable share increased by

R7.3 million or 4.3% from the previous financial year. However this is below the inflation rate of 5.9%.

In fact, the Departments entire budget is 1.6% less than the previous year due to inflation. This is concerning, and in reality it means less is being spent on service delivery.

On Service Delivery

Hon. Deputy Speaker on issues of service delivery, allow me to present four challenges the Premiers Office faces. These challenges are not adequately addressed by the current Budget and APP, and in some cases not addressed at all;

1. Corruption, Fraud & Maladministration: The Premiers Office has

poorly detailed how her Budget will address the concerns raised by the Auditor-General in his Briefing to Legislature on 2011/12 audit outcomes.

2. A Bloated Department: The ID is concerned that the Premiers

Office is spending more on salaries and less on actual service delivery.

In fact, the compensation of wages and employees consumes a staggering 60.7% of the Departments entire budget. This is dangerous levels, and suggests that actual expenditure of providing services is a mere 39.3% of the total budget.

Hon. Deputy Speaker simply put, for every R10 spent by the Premier, only R3.93c is spent on providing some sort of service to the public!

3. Marginalised & Vulnerable Groups: It is concerning that the

Special Programmes sub-programme in the Department is getting a 27.4% spending cut. This sub-programme attends to the needs of women, children & people with disabilities in the province.

4. Lack of Innovation: The Premiers Office has no structures which

deal with ensuring continuous learning and innovation throughout the provincial government.

Hon Deputy Speaker we believe that there are alternatives and better ways in which to allocate this budget. Let me share just three suggestions.

1. Establishing a Corporate Assurance Programme: This is a

dedicated programme made up of Enterprise Risk Management, a Forensic Investigative Unit, Internal Audit, Legal Services and Corporate Communications sub-programmes.

2. Human Resource Information Systems: To monitor personnel numbers

in all government departments, and ensure that the wage bill does not cripple service delivery.

3. Establish a Centre for e-Innovation: This will transform the

provincial government into an efficient 21st century service provider by integrating government services through broadband ICT across the province.

 

Conclusion

In conclusion Hon. Deputy Speaker, I’m of the view that the new Premier, Hon. Lucas, has her job cut out for her. We wish her well, and would encourage her to consider the recommendation and ideas we have shared here today. After-all, achieving an open opportunity society for all is always done, BETTER TOGETHER!

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