Budget Speech: A mixed bag of hope and despair

Anthony Benadie MPL

DA Spokesperson on Finance:

The DA notes the strained fiscal position the Mpumalanga Provincial Government finds itself in. With R215 million less in the provincial coffers then the 2014/15 financial year, the 2015/16 annual budget tabled by Mpumalanga Finance MEC Eric Kholwane this afternoon leaves much to be desired.

 

The DA appreciates governments allocation of R27 million towards the absorption of social worker graduates. These individuals will play an intricate part in the curbing of social-ills in society. The allocation of R330.9 million for the filling of 1571 critical posts in the Department of Health is a move in the right direction. The DA has for some time been advocating for this to happen.

 

R102.9 million allocated towards expanding Masibuyele Emasimini Programme sounds great, but those funds should be held by Provincial Treasury until the department can prove that they can efficiently run the current programme in its form.

 

We note with concern the rescheduling of R40 million from the Traffic College budget towards the building of Social Development Branch Offices. Such a move is in line with government’s ambition of being a nanny state. People don’t need more social grant offices, people need jobs.

 

With Mpumalanga’s economic growth rate having been revised downwards to 1.9% and a conservative definition of unemployment at 26.6% the DA expected MEC Kholwane to blow us away with some truly radical budgetary changes. Changes that would see the economic aspiration of the province fully realised. But instead, we got comments like “reducing Compensation of Employees from 60% to 58.3% is keeping a lean, professional and accountable workforce”, which is laughable at best.

 

Instead, the DA and the rest of Mpumalanga would have preferred to see the following measure being implemented:

  • Put budget aside to perform a skills and needs assessment on all departments, to ensure that each department has an efficient and effective staff compliment
  • The introduction of tight financial controls over municipalities spending to prevent their continued collapse instead of shifting some oversight duties over to Provincial Treasury
  • Adequate infrastructure spending to ensure the delivery of basic bulk services to rural areas
  • The reshuffling of the budget to not only correct the social ills of the past, but ensure that we capitalize on the future economic potential.

 

It is sad that this budget has been compromised by 2014 ANC election promises. Though that may be, the DA will continue in its oversight function and ensure that government delivers on what it has promised.