FS Budget fails to address province’s financial woes

David van Vuuren

DA Chief Whip in the Free State Provincial Legislature:

The DA is disappointed in the 2015/16 budget tabled by Finance MEC, Elzabe Rockman, today. It is our view that MEC Rockman failed to use the opportunity to review the allocation of funds in such a manner that the budget would address the provincial government’s self-inflicted financial woes.

Both the Departments of Education and Health are under serious financial stress, Health has a shortfall totalling almost R800 million and R1,2 billion for Education. Both departments are making use of their current budgeted funds to pay off debt incurred in previous financial years instead of applying the budgeted funds in the current financial year to programmes that deliver services to the people.

It is for this reason that towards the end of each financial year the Department of Education can’t pay school subsidies to schools and that Health can’t buy medicines.

How can it be that a single coordinating department such as the Office of the Premier receive a R100 million more than the Free State Provincial Legislature, which receives a meagre R181 million to conduct oversight and hold 11 departments accountable to the people.

MEC Rockman failed to prioritise funds in such a way that it would begin to address the province’s dire financial situation, improve service delivery and spur economic development. The MEC missed an opportunity to table radical measures that would cut government’s wilful abuse of the people’s money on luxury trips to Cuba and China and gala dinners. She also failed to commit to combat corruption and end wasteful and fruitless expenditure.

The budget tabled today does not inspire confidence, it offers no tangible solutions to bring the provincial government’s finances into order, and most importantly, it fails to address the needs of the people of the Free State.