Francois Rodgers, MPL
DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance
The newly elected DA caucus in KwaZulu-Natal has hit the ground running with some 60% of the party’s resolutions during the recent budget debates set to be adopted.
This after several weeks of rigorous portfolio meetings with departments interrogating close out reports for 2013/2014 and portfolio budgets for 2014/2015. The combined enquiries were due to 2014 being an election year and, regrettably, were subject to severe time constraints and pressure which the DA believes detracted from the significant key area of oversight and planning.
KZN’s budget hearings showed that the ANC-leadership is failing in its constitutional mandate to effectively deliver services to the community as a result of poor oversight and implementation. When a province has to budget almost an additional R80 million to assist and monitor its own departments then the writing is clearly on the wall.
Our province has the financial resources and a road map in how to achieve its objectives. The question is whether there is the political will to implement this budget. The past few years indicate that it does not – cash flow may be improved but this is no indication of success when it comes to service delivery.
Major issues raised by the DA during the debates were;
- the R300 million under-spend in the 2012/2013 budget
- the R67.4 million of conditional grant funding that remain unspent in the close out reports for 2013/2014.
Under expenditure defeats the ends of the National Development Plan (NDP) and the PGDP (Provincial Growth Development Plan). The consequences are that the people of KZN suffer, particularly the poorest of the poor. Under expenditure is unacceptable and is tantamount to treason.
Infrastructure allocations for 2013/2014 were another nightmare of poor leadership and shocking implementation of the Provincial Growth Development Plan (PGDP). A total amount of almost R240 million remained unspent – Human Settlements being the biggest culprit at over R113 million. This is money that could have made a big difference in the lives of ordinary citizens in KZN. Meanwhile KZN’s ANC-led leadership laments its cut in the province’s equitable share allocation.
On a positive note, it appears from the 2013/2014 close out report that most departments have made an effort to implement cost cutting measures. However if one looks at the value of this exercise on the overall budget then one would be forgiven for thinking we are fiddling as Rome burns – this in the context of continued maladministration, irregular, or fruitless and wasteful expenditure and non expenditure, in certain provincial departments while certain past transgressions appear to drag on forever with no finality or consequence.
As KZN’s Official Opposition, the DA will continue its rigorous role on oversight in fiscal management and will call on newly appointed Finance, Belinda Scott, to ensure that the recent budget debates do not become empty words and that the resolutions offered are implemented.