DA budget response: Speech must be supported by actions

Andrew Louw, MPL

DA Provincial Leader: Northern Cape:

The Democratic Alliance believes that the speech tabled by the MEC for Finance today must be backed by strong, consistent actions.

We welcome the many statements in the MEC’s speech which were clearly influenced by the DA. We are especially happy to hear that the provincial Treasury is busy finalising cost containment measures, since we have consistently raised the issue of unnecessary spending.

We are also satisfied to see that funds will be allocated for the renovations of the Legislature, which was highlighted by the DA last year.

However, we remain concerned about the lack of consequences for departments who misspend public funds. The MEC made a lot of pronouncements on a culture of efficiency, but did not address the consequences of non-compliance. What will happen if officials do not adhere to the new cost containment measures?

How will there be compliance with the new cost containment measures if there is a culture of non-compliance already established? Irregular, unauthorised, fruitless and wasteful expenditure in the previous year constituted 15% of the total provincial budget. Yet the MEC failed to mention consequences for departments who contributed to the more than

R1.8 billion which was wasted. With the funds wasted by the department of Health alone, we could have covered the budgets for Economic Development, Sport, Arts and Culture and Transport, Safety and Liaison in this year.

We are also concerned about the continued deployment of ANC cadres in the provincial government.

While we welcome the income relief provided by EPWP, the budget did not address the shortfall in the provincial government’s job creation targets. In the previous cycle, the provincial government failed to meet 24% of its job creation targets. In terms of its new target of 85

000 jobs over the next five years, the provincial government must create 17 000 EPWP opportunities this year. However, if one considers the average cost of EPWP job creation, the R34 million set aside for EPWP this year is only sufficient to create 1 753 jobs. Where is the rest of the jobs going to come from?

We will engage further with the details of the budget in the various portfolio committee meetings where the annual performance plans of the departments will be presented.