Bobby Stevenson MPL
Shadow MEC for Finance
The Eastern Cape Provincial budget for 2014/15 was tabled by the MEC for Finance and Provincial Planning, Phumulo Masualle, in the Bhisho Legislature last week Thursday (6 March).
The DA welcomes the emphasis on development and infrastructure but is disappointed that no clear plans were spelt out to deal with the bloated bureaucracy which is currently running at 65% of the total budget. The total cost of employees is R41,171 billion out of a total budget of R62,141 billion. This continues to have huge implications for the funding of schools, hospitals and roads.
The DA believes the budget should create the right climate for economic growth. This budget is tilting in the right direction but unless the core issue of our bloated bureaucracy and the appointment of the right staff in the right positions are dealt with, service delivery will continue to limp along in the Eastern Cape. Government should set a clear target for the cost of employees as a percentage of the budget as well as reversing the imbalances of support staff to core staff.
The increase in the education budget of 3,8% is going to be inadequate to deal with the 5 200 substantive vacant posts, let alone improve infrastructure at schools. The government has continued to duck and dive with the issue of the 9 100 excess teachers in the province since 2003. It is estimated that this is costing R2,7 billion a year.
The transfer of funds to political parties at local government level for fighting the general election is unheard of. The Local Government and Traditional Affairs budget increases by only R4%. We need to be building capacity at local government level to deliver services and not funding political parties. This is covered at a national- and provincial level.
We welcome the R850 million that has been allocated over the next three years to eradicate the bucket toilet system in our province. This will bring dignity to thousands of people.
We also welcome the increase of 35% in the budget of the Department of Economic Affairs, Environment and Tourism as well is the 17% increase for Roads and 12% increase for Safety and Security. An efficient roads network is the life blood of our economy and without it our rural areas in particular, are trapped in a downward economic cycle.
A DA-government will ensure that this province becomes a place of rising opportunity for all its citizens by redressing the legacy of apartheid through eradicating wastage, corruption, maladministration, cadre deployment and ensuring resources are devoted to creating a climate for economic growth and real job creation.