DA overviews 2014/15 Provincial budget

Anthony Benadie MPL

Provincial Leader – Mpumalanga

On overviewing of the recent provincial departmental budgets for 2014/15 the DA has the following to state:

DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SETTLEMENTS

The DA opposes the 2014/15 budget for the Department of Human Settlements as tabled in the Mpumalanga Legislature. The fate of this department is concerning, as they have been plagued by incompetency and corruption. The current housing backlog stands at 197 156 houses with little indication of any form of turn around to speed up housing delivery in the province.

DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION

With the largest portion of the provincial budget, the DA is concerned about value for money within this department. Despite the Premier making bold announcements about infrastructure during his SOPA earlier this year, the department has announced that no new schools will be built in this financial year. As the provincial population grows, so too should our school infrastructure. The DA remains concerned that despite the departments substantial financial allocation, huge inconsistencies continue to exist in the quality of education presented in rural versus urban schools.

DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE, ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND TOURISM

It is imperative that the Department realises that they have a strategic mandate to bring about job creation in our province.  While the current crises at the MTPA and Mega must be addressed, the economic growth potential within the tourism sector must be exploited.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT

The DA supports the Call for the department to absorb all bursary holders to ensure the department is able to meet the national ratio of 1 social worker to 3000 residents in Mpumalanga. Currently Mpumalanga has only 377 Social workers servicing a population of over 4 million.

DEPARTMENT OF COMMUNITY SAFETY AND SECURITY

Despite the mandate of this department being restricted to an administrational and oversight role, the Department has a non-negotiable obligation to ensure the safety of our provinces residents, particularly in rural areas.  Efforts need to be intensified in the fight against drug abuse and drug trafficking.

DEPARTMENT OF CULTURE, SPORT AND RECREATION

The department must realise that their mandate expands beyond the recognition of ANC struggle heroes.  Mpumalanga is rich with heritage jewels which must be preserved and protected for future generations.  So too, the DA hopes that the Department will use its budget to assist, support and develop the abundant sporting talent which we have in our province.

DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC WORKS, ROADS AND TRANSPORT

This department has been allocated a budget of R4.194 billion which amounts to 11.5% of the provinces total appropriation.  This allocation represents 6.1% year on year growth from the previous financial year.  A large number of infrastructure projects earmarked to begin in previous financial year have been shuffled to begin in this financial year. While the DA will closely monitor the implementation of delayed infrastructure projects, we are highly disturbed by the fact that the department has chosen to allocate R1.8 million towards catering expenses for this financial year.

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

The DA sincerely hopes that the curatorship imposed on this department will address the collapsed administration and chaos characterising health care in our province. Cost curtailment measures, have been put in place to assist with the pressures on the budget caused by the mismanagement of the departments’ finances in the previous financial year. It is concerning that despite the departments’ financial distress, they have thought it good to budget R84.9 million to be used for bonuses.

DEPARTMENT OF CO-OPERATIVE GOVERNANCE AND TRADITIONAL AFFAIRS

Running an efficient and effective municipality is not rocket science. It is about getting the basics right: Visionary and responsible political leadership, the appointment of the right person for the job, sound financial management and outcomes driven delivery targets coupled with the political will to put the interests of residents first. And it can be done, the DA has proven this everywhere where we govern.

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE AND LAND REFORM

A staggering 45% of this department’s budget has been allocated for salaries.  Mega being involved in the Department is an issue that raises many concerns. The DA approves of the attempts by the department to foster relationships between emerging farmers and commercial farmers and trust that mentorship programmes will assist in channelling emerging farmers into the mainstream agriculture economy.

OFFICE OF THE PREMIER

The Office of the Premier must use the resources allocated to it, to ensure it provides sufficient strategic guidance to all government departments. The department of the office of the Premier must ensure that the extensive promises made by the Premier during his two State of the Province addresses for 2014, must be prioritised and implemented in all state departments.

The DA will closely monitor the spending patterns of departments and will hold government to account in the achievement of the various strategic objectives which were approved with the passing of the 2014/2015 Appropriation Bill.