FS Budget not geared to create jobs, fight poverty

Peter Frewen MPL

Free State Provincial Legislature

The 2014/15 Free State provincial budget presented by Finance MEC, Elzabe Rockman, does not allow much room for the provincial government to address serious delivery issues. The budget fails to tackle unemployment and poverty. The Free State has the highest unemployment rate in South Africa currently at 41.2%. Almost half the Free State population live in poverty on R800 or less a month. This budget will bring little material relief to the Free State population.

We welcome the additional funding of R230 million for the eradication of the bucket system. However, the current performance of government does not inspire confidence that it would it would spend this allocation from National Treasury effectively.

Overall the budget fails to make provision for much needed infrastructure development and improving the financial capabilities of the departments of Health and Education in order to bring them up to standard and better equipping them to deliver on their mandates.

The Department of Health is plagued with accruals in excess of R700 million in the current financial year. Despite the vague assurances given by Health MEC Malakoane recently at a press conference that the department is fully able to deliver on his mandate, he maintained that in order to bring the department up to standard it would need an additional R4 billion.

The Department of Education is said to overspend on its current budget to the tune of R1.2 billion and remains unable to pay service providers, contractors and school funding subsidies to numerous schools across the province.

Provincial departments will have to heed MEC Rockman’s advice that they must tighten their belts and implement cost saving measures in order to better deliver on their core mandates.

It is evident that for the next financial year, the Free State government will deliver much more of the same, which is not much at all. Continuing this trend will only increase unemployment and further entrench poverty and dependence.

The DA has a plan for government that would create jobs and fight poverty attract investment and ensure that public money is spent wisely.