Free State Provincial Government priorities are wrong

Roy Jankielsohn MPL

DA Spokesperson for Police, Roads and Transport

Evidence continues to indicate that the Free State Provincial Government has got its priorities wrong. While the treasury department has indicated that unemployment rates in the Free State have increased from 29,4% in the fourth quarter of 2011 to 33,2% in the fourth quarter of 2012. Statistics South Africa has also indicated that 48% of households in the Free State live on R800 or less per month. This is the lowest alongside the Eastern Cape.

A sound roads infrastructure remains crucial for the provincial economy. For this reason, the Democratic Alliance is concerned by the information acquired during a Portfolio Committee of Police, Roads and Transport meeting this week. The information indicates that while the budget for this department increased by almost R199 million in this financial year, the province has in fact cut its share of this budget.

During budget debates the provincial government indicated that the budget for this Department has increased from R2 061 862 000 to R2 260 413 000 this year, and that more money is thus available for road maintenance. While this is true, it is because the national government allocated an additional R530 million for road maintenance in the province. The province subsequently took R188 million away from the allocation for roads within the budget for this Department. This money was re-allocated to other departments.

While the province increased the budget of, among others, the Office of the Premier by R24,7 million and Sports, Arts and Culture by R61,8 million; it has in fact cut the provincial budget allocation for both roads and the Provincial Legislature.

The Department of Agriculture received an increase of R57,8 million and it is not even able to ensure the effective utilization of tractors and is spending millions of rands on the Vrede dairy project which has recently been clouded in controversy.

While the Department of Police, Roads and Transport indicated that they are ready to begin work on repairing potholes in the province with a zero pothole target; the executive committee in the province appears not willing to support them.

A sound roads infrastructure is more crucial to the agricultural sector and the provincial economy at this stage than a controversial dairy project that is projected to eventually cost the Department of Agriculture about R300 million. Roads should also get precedence over expanding the Premier’s empire and Macufe.

The people of the Free Sate will remain poor and hungry while the Provincial Government spends their money on pet projects that appear to benefit individuals instead of our people in the province.

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