Economic Development Department Cannot Be a Bottomless Pit of Funding

Andrew Louw, MPL DA Northern Cape: Provincial Leader The Democratic Alliance is not convinced that the Northern Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism’s plans for the year ahead will make a significant impact towards the province’s high unemployment and poverty levels. This after the department yesterday presented its budget for the 2013/2014 financial year to the legislature. The department continues to focus primarily on projects and spends a large portion of its budget on transfers to entities. However, little is known about the “value for money” aspect of the projects and entities, or the impact they are having on the economy. The Maloof and Bloodhound projects are a case in point. They may well hold significant potential towards growing the tourism market but what is disturbing is that the department does not yet have a system in place to gauge the actual value of these projects on the economy. Instead, all we have is a verbal promise by the department that the tourism benefits of these projects will be seen in years to come. Coupled with this vagueness, the department remains cagey around the overall expenditure by the department on these events. This is cause for concern, considering that in the previous financial year, the Maloof was the prime culprit of overspending. Meanwhile, transfers payments to entities take up a huge chunk of the provincial department’s budget at 35,12%. The Diamond Bed Factory for example is to receive a whopping R18 million, Eternal City Trading is to receive R13,643 million and the Frances Baard SMME Trust is to receive R5,097 million. Once again, what is concerning is that we remain in the dark about exactly how these funds will be used, what economic spinoffs they will have and also, very importantly, by when we can expect to see positive economic growth as a direct results of these initiatives. The DA strongly believes that it is high time that the department starts taking direct responsibility for projects and entities that it is supporting. In fact, before any transfers are done, it is up to the department to ensure that each and every project and entity is in a position to render positive results. The department needs to stop acting like there is a bottomless pit of funding for events and projects. This said, there is no more time or money to waste on stagnating projects and entities. Instead, every cent invested by the department must see returns and if not, the respective projects or entities must be scrapped and someone must be held accountable. Furthermore, comprehensive support needs to be provided to projects and entities so that they can eventually become independent and operate as going concerns. This is but one of the many aspects that must be tackled by this department if it hopes to succeed at facilitating job creating growth in the Northern Cape.

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