Minister Alan Winde delivers Department of Agriculture 2015/16 budget speech

The Department of Agriculture 2015/16 budget speech as delivered by Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, in the Legislature on 25 March 2015.

 

Mr Speaker

Premier Zille

Cabinet colleagues and Members of the Provincial Legislature

Director-General and Heads of Departments

Our partners in business, civil society and labour

Residents of the Western Cape

The media

And finally, my very special guests to today’s sitting – the residents of our province who work in and drive our agricultural sector

 

I am delivering today’s budget speech during an exciting time for our sector.

 

We are in the midst of a successful harvest season, where it has been reported to me that the quality of our produce is higher than ever before. It has also been a productive harvest, where employers and employees have worked together to get the job done.

 

All of these positives, amongst others, point to a sector which is fast becoming serious business for our region and our country.

 

I think, in this sector, it is time to start dreaming BIG.

 

My vision is for a future in which agricultural produce from the Western Cape plays a major role in feeding the world.

 

In this budget, we are putting forward a set of practical action plans, linked to measurable targets, through which we aim to achieve just that.

 

In total, R742 million has been allocated to Vote 11 to create an enabling environment in which our farming and agri-processing operations can grow the agricultural economy and create employment in the sector. Creating jobs for the people of our rural

 

areas is the only way in which we can sustainably address our biggest challenge: poverty.

 

Our over-arching goal is to increase sustainable agricultural production by at least 10 per cent over the next 10 years, through a set of innovative interventions, the most important of which is to radically increase the pace of transformation in the sector.

 

Enhancing diversity in our agricultural sector is the platform upon which we can build a stable, more productive and growing sector.

 

That is why over the next five years we will work to ensure a 70 per cent success rate of all land reform projects. The Farmer Support and Development Programme will receive R256.9 million in 2015/16 to help new farmers build successful agri-businesses.

 

This funding will amongst others be used to deliver a full suite of post-settlement support services to land reform beneficiaries, equipping them with the skills they need to run successful operations.

 

We also aim to support 4 600 farmers with advice to take their enterprises to the next level.

 

Successful land reform can only happen through collaboration, and growing meaningful partnerships will be critical in delivering the targets we have set.

 

To this end, we will participate in all of the National Department of Rural Development and Land Reform’s District Land Committees.

 

I am particularly excited to announce that as from next month, we will begin to welcome clients at our newly established Land Reform Advisory Desk. This service, which is situated at the Casidra head office, will provide support to emerging and existing

 

farmers in the industry on the different ways on how to structure land reform deals.

 

To illustrate the power of partnerships, I’d like to tell you more about Chamomile Farming Enterprises in Philippi.

 

Wadea Jappie started this operation in 2001. By 2003, she was farming with 100 chickens.

 

Through a small amount of assistance from the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme (CASP), and a lot of hard work and dedication, Chamomile’s current production stands at 4 500 eggs per day from 5000 chickens. Today, Wadea’s Chamomile

 

eggs can be found on the shelves of our local Pick n Pay stores.

 

This is what partnerships can do.

 

During my first year as Minister of Agriculture, I have visited a number of national government land reform projects, and have witnessed firsthand how many of these operations were set up for failure. We need to turn this around. Government, in

 

collaboration with the private sector, must ensure we give beneficiaries the best chance of success.

 

Funding gives young and black farmers the boost they need to be a part of the growth story of this sector.

 

I’d like to share another story with you. This story is about one of the Western Cape’s successful young tea farmers.

 

Andries Slinger had a passion for agriculture and wanted to pursue an agricultural course after he matriculated in 2002, but he didn’t have enough money to afford the fees.

 

Instead, his dad – with a huge amount of faith in his son – took out a land bank loan and bought a small farm in Clanwilliam to help him get started. With support from the department, Andries has been able to grow the farm into a successful enterprise, and

 

today, he has a contract with Rooibos Limited to deliver 25 tonnes of tea over the next five years.

 

We want to see Andries’ success duplicated across the province.

 

In this coming financial year, we will engage with banks to encourage them to become a little less risk averse when it comes to granting agricultural loans.

 

New farmers are often challenged by a lack of business networks and links to domestic and export markets. It is our goal to improve market access for all agri-businesses in the Western Cape.

 

The Western Cape produces over 50 per cent of South Africa’s agricultural exports. We will support agri-business to strengthen their export position by growing exports from their current value added of R16.3 billion.

 

Agricultural Economic Services receives R22.8 million to deliver support to both commercial and smallholder farmers to help them move into the next market category.

 

Research has found only a five percent increase in the value of deciduous fruit and table grapes exports will create 4 261 and 2 073 new jobs respectively.

 

The same research showed that a five percent increase in wine exports will lead to 986 new jobs, and two thirds of these jobs will be off farm.

 

To make this a reality, we need to radically ease market access to both our new and our traditional markets. The national Department of Trade and Industry must be a key partner if we are to achieve this.

 

We are operating in a competitive global environment. In the BRICS group, we are facing fierce competition from countries such as the United States of America, Europe and Australia.

 

Recently, China signed agreements to start cutting tariffs on Australian and Chilean wine.

 

Currently, we are paying tariffs of between 14 and 30 per cent when we export wine to China.

 

Simply put, we have to start leveraging our position in BRICS to put smart agreements in place which give Western Cape exporters an edge in the market.

 

In addition to better trade agreements, we must also address non-tariff barriers. Environmentally friendly and socially responsible practices are becoming increasingly important for markets such as the European Union. We also know that farming this way is

 

the right thing to do for our planet and our people. In this respect, we aim to ensure that 1 200 farmers and farmworkers in the sector receive ethical trade training.

 

In addition to BRICS, we will place huge focus on growing our African market.

 

African countries are already our top importers for food and beverages, with exports to Angola growing by 30 per cent over the past year.

 

We are also major exporters of meat. To ensure that our animal population remains healthy, and that in the event of an animal disease outbreak, we can respond speedily, the Veterinary Services programme receives R76.2 million.

 

Going forward, consumption on the continent is set to increase dramatically, driven by rising GDP, growing middle classes and urbanisation.

 

Linked to our African expansion, we have a vision of hosting Africa’s biggest agricultural congress, where we want to discuss the future of food security, and food opportunity, on the continent. Africa has the world’s most unfarmed and arable land and we

 

need to make sure Africans lead the way forward.

 

As we increase our global market share, agri-processing presents a significant opportunity to stimulate further growth and job creation in our region. As it stands, we have not explored the full potential of adding value to our goods, often exporting the raw product.

 

Project Khulisa – our project to reduce poverty in the Western Cape – identified agri-processing as a high-potential sector, which, if it receives dedicated attention and support from all sectors, could add up to 100 000 jobs and generate R26 billion for the

 

economy under a high-growth scenario.

 

Agri-processing holds particular potential to increase employment in rural areas. Offering support to residents living in rural areas is a key priority and our Rural Development programme receives R21 million in the 2015/16 financial year.

 

This month, the Western Cape Government, in partnership with the private sector, hosted a design laboratory, with industry, to workshop a set of proposed levers to dramatically accelerate growth and jobs in this sector.

 

These include, amongst others:

 

  • Addressing the availability of water and energy resources required by the sector for growth;
  • Developing specialized agri-processing parks;
  • Driving campaigns to promote Western Cape products on international and domestic markets;
  • Improving the regulatory and enabling legislative environment in agriculture and agri-processing

 

Agri-processing’s dependence on water means that we will also collaborate with Provincial Strategic Goal 4, which is focused on building a resilient, sustainable and inclusive living environment.

 

We understand that growing our agriculture sector starts with looking after our land.

 

2015 is the United Nations International Year of Soil, which raises awareness about the importance of soil for food security.

 

To look after this vital resource, the Sustainable Resource Management programme receives R75.2 million.

 

As with resource management, innovation is also a priority for economic growth across all sectors.

 

To ensure that we are able to lead the technological revolution in the sector, Research and Technology Development Services programme receive R108.8 million in the 2015/16 financial year. In May, the department will host a Media Wow Day, where we will

 

showcase the cutting-edge innovation being produced by public sector innovators in this province’s agriculture department.

 

As we embark on these initiatives to speed up growth, we have to make sure the people of this province are appropriately skilled to enter into and take the agricultural sector forward. The average age of a farmer is now 60 years old. We are also facing

 

skills shortages in the agri-processing sector.

 

If we want to become a region which feeds the world, we have to develop the talents of our young people, and develop their interest in the sector.

 

It is my pleasure to welcome Samantha Smiles here today. At 24 years old, Samantha is one of the shining stars of agriculture in the Western Cape. With her family, she runs a successful agri-business focused on farming sheep and cattle.

 

With funding from CASP, Samantha was able to purchase infrastructure and animals and receive training from the department.

 

I commended Samantha for her efforts last year when she won the Ministerial Achievement at the annual Female Entrepreneur Awards. She joins another group of my special guests here today, the Student Representative Council chair, Sabelo Ngcobo and

 

the rest of the SRC team of the Elsenburg Training College.

 

These are the young people that in the very near future will lead our agricultural sector.

 

One of the best investments we can make is in our young people. That is why we have allocated R56.9 million to the Structured Agricultural Education and Training programme in the 2015/16 financial year.

 

Finally, to play a role in feeding the world, we need to create an investor friendly environment.

 

Some of our agricultural and agri-processing businesses have started to lose faith in the system, and particularly in government.

 

Farmers lose courage and trust to invest when politicians take policies such as the 50/50 proposal off the table, only to start the debate again a few months later.

 

They lose courage and trust to invest when government regulations stop making economic sense.

 

In Saron, a factory employing over 1 000 local residents, wants to expand its operations. They’ve been told if they extend their premises by one more meter, they will have to relocate to Epping. That means 1 000 residents in Saron will be unemployed.

 

They lose courage and trust to invest when BEE codes constantly change. We need to transform the sector so it is inclusive and reflective of a modern and diverse society. But the only way we can create an investor-friendly environment is through

 

consistency, clarity and certainty.

 

Farmers say if you give them the rules, they’ll stick to them. At the same time, we need to make the laws work for our economy.

 

We have to bring honour back to agriculture.

 

In an honourable agricultural sector, we all respect and want to help one another. This includes employers and employees, and government.

 

Today you will receive the latest issue of Abundant Harvest: Better Together, which features 20 stories of how farmers and farm workers are working together.

 

There are more stories to tell and we’ll keep sharing them as we build a truly honourable agricultural sector.

 

For my part, I will work to bring honour back to agriculture by reducing the burdensome red tape which prevents you from growing, and by encouraging my colleagues at a national level to set good rules and stick to them.

 

Some farmers have a Plan B in place. Today I am asking you to make the Western Cape your Plan A and Plan B.

 

With a bit of a hope, and a commitment to honour, we can build a sector which feeds the world, better together.

 

I thank you.

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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.

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Address by Bosman Grobler DA MPL, in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature

Address by Bosman Grobler DA MPL, in the Mpumalanga Provincial Legislature, on 17 March 2015 during the 2015/2016 Budget Speech

 

Hon. Speaker

 

I rise to deliver a member statement on behalf of the Democratic Alliance

 

Community Safety MEC, Vusi Shongwe must immediately retract the promise he made to the protesting residents of Siyathemba Township near Balfour on Friday. In order to restore calm to the area, MEC Shongwe promised that this community would be amalgamated with Gauteng province and not Lekwa municipality as proposed by the Municipal Demarcation Board.

 

MEC Shongwe’s promise is misleading as an MEC has no authority to change provincial boundaries. Removing a community from one province and amalgamating it with another province is not simply a cut-and-paste exercise. This process is closely guarded by the Constitution and is likely to require an amendment to the Constitution.

 

Residents of Siyathemba Township have been embroiled in violent protests since last Wednesday. A number of buildings were burned down, including the local SASSA offices and the house of executive mayor, Cllr Sara Nhlapo. Schooling in this area was also brought to a standstill.

 

MEC Shongwe’s promise demonstrates the extent the ANC-led government is out of touch with the needs of communities and how false promises are used to disguise their inability to lead.

 

I thank you.

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MEC Kholwane must Allocate Sufficient Money to the Health Department during his budget speech

Anthony Benadie MPL,

DA Spokesperson on Finance:

The MEC of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism Eric Kholwane must ensure that the health department receive sufficient money to employ the necessary healthcare professionals and reduce the vacancy rate by 10%.

 

As the MEC presents his budget speech and introduce the Mpumalanga Appropriation Bill tomorrow (Tuesday), the DA has the following expectation for each department:

 

Office of the Premier

The DA does not expect any real change to occur with regards to this allocation. This department needs to ensure that it continues to develop strategies and continue on its oversight and intervention when there is a need.

Finance, Economic Development and Tourism

We expect some major changes to the allocation for this department, as there is a major restructuring/re-engineering occurring within the department and its parastatals. The major chunk of this allocation needs to go toward programmes that seek to boost the economic productivity of the province. A focus on support towards SMMEs is essential.

 

Agriculture, Rural Development, Land and Environmental Affairs

As always, we expect farmer support and development to receive the biggest portion of this budget. The support of government towards small scale farmers is key to the economic prosperity as well as food security within the province. The budget given to the construction of the highly anticipated Fresh Produce Market must also be expanded on.

 

Human Settlements

The Department of Human Settlements allocation needs to be primarily focused on housing development. More needs to be done to ensure more sites across the province are identified for housing development. The process of identifying beneficiaries must be fast-tracked for more output.

 

COGTA

More needs to be done in allocating more funds to local governance – It has been 2 years since Emalahleni has been put under administration. The focus should be on the support programmes the department has for municipalities as it is this support that can turn key issues in municipalities around.

 

Community Safety and Security

The allocation of the provincial budget for the department should focus on training traffic officers both existing and new to ensure that road rage, illegal contraventions and drunk driving are curbed on our roads. Crime intervention should also become increasingly emphasised to ensure the safety of our people.

 

Public Works, Roads and Transport

The maintenance and upgrading of existing roads should be highly considered as provincial roads continue to dilapidate due to the failure of maintenance.

 

Education

This department will once again receive the bulk of the budget; however the DA would like to see that this money is aligned with the Premiers SOPA’s Promises of Constructing Grade R facilities, Provision of Laboratories and computer centres to all schools offering maths and science, upgrading of special schools and provision of sanitation facilities with water and electricity. Money needs to be set aside for the special program to track learners throughout their schooling years to eliminate school dropouts.

 

 

Social Development

Same as the department of health money must be set aside for the appointment of social workers who has studied with a bursary from the Mpumalanga department of social development to ensure the province does not lose the skill.

 

Culture, sport and recreation

The DA would expect that this department focuses on capital projects like the High altitude training centre and the Cultural village were millions have been spent in previous financial years but are currently been put on hold due to budgetary constraints as well as other heritage sites across Mpumalanga that are currently being neglected.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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KZN Budget: Sad day as national allocations reveal hard times ahead

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

WHILE today’s Maiden Budget Speech, by KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott, delivered on cost-cutting proposals it did not deal with rampant corruption, effective governance and effective service delivery implementation.

The reality is that KZN is not facing a happy economic climate and today’s budget was not a good story to tell.  The national allocation to the province will have very little positive impact on the day to day lives of ordinary people unless there is absolute oversight and political buy-in by all KZN ANC MEC’s. Talk is cheap but money buys the whisky and time will tell.

Today, the DA was disappointed by the MEC’s failure to address the following;

  • Placing a moratorium on consultants in the province despite a R5billion bill for the province
  • Stimulating the economy by laying a foundation for small to medium business
  • Putting a lid on big salary increases for public servants.
  • Amalgamating Sport and Recreation with Arts and Culture
  • Amalgamating Public Works and Transport

On a positive note, we acknowledge and welcome the Royal Household now falling under the Premier.  The question is what the cost-saving of this exercise will be otherwise it’s a futile programme.

We welcome the increase allocated to both Education and Health.  It must be remembered though that both departments played a key role in reallocation of funding due to massive over-expenditure during the past financial year.

We, the DA, sincerely hope that with the additional allocation that the Education department will show a turnaround from the shocking matric results of 2014.

As KZN’s official opposition, the DA will monitor this new budget closely to ensure effective implementation and to ensure that every single official sticks to the budget.   Accountability is the key factor for the DA.

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Limpopo’s Provincial Budget Speech: disturbingly vague on details

Langa Bodlani MPL

DA Limpopo Spokesperson on Treasury:

Today’s provincial budget speech by MEC Rudolph Phala was very vague on plans for our provincial economic growth and job creation for the people of Limpopo.

 

The MEC did not mention how the SMMEs, the drivers of economic growth, are going to be supported by this budget. He hardly mentioned the reduction of red tape which hinders the growth of this sector.

 

Whilst he mentioned the need for austerity measures, he did not identify any cost containment measures. These should include the reduction of the provincial wage bill, the reduction of wasteful expenditures by departments on non-service delivery items such as catering, advertisement, and ministerial benefits especially on luxury items such as cars, hotels and flights.

 

He was also lacking on the details on how he plans to curb corruption especially on supply chain management of various departments.

 

The budget allocation to various departments also failed to come up with concrete plans to ensure that these departments manage their budgets properly. Under expenditure of budgets and conditional grants is replete in all provincial departments and yet the MEC did not take the people of the province in confidence on how is he planning to tackle this. It is doubtful whether the R6. 7 billion of conditional grants will be spent fully in this financial year.

 

This is compounded by extremely high amounts of wasteful and irregular expenditure especially in health and education which was recorded notwithstanding the presence of section 100 (1) (b) team.  MEC did not tell us how he plans to deal with this. High vacancy rates (30.13% in Jan 2015) in provincial departments, if not attended, will continue to hamper their budget expenditure and services to our people.

 

Furthermore, except for bare promises, the MEC failed to give concrete proposals on how this government is going to rescue our battling municipalities.  Failure to invest in our water infrastructure has led to our communities continuing to either have no water at all or having inconsistent supply.

 

Finally the MEC hardly mentioned the scourge of youth unemployment and means of how this budget will help to bring our youth into the economic mainstream.  The youth unemployment is tinder waiting to go up in flames and yet the MEC failed to even mention this sector of our population.

 

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DA KZN: Budget must see renewed focus on service delivery and cost cutting measures

Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:

DURING tomorrow’s KZN Budget Speech, the DA expects to see a renewed focus on core service delivery across the province along with efforts to cut costs without any adverse effects.

While it is near impossible to generate additional income at provincial level in an attempt to alleviate financial challenges it is, however, completely possible to create a leaner, meaner and more efficient provincial government.

The DA expects KZN Finance MEC, Belinda Scott to focus on consolidation taking into account the treacherous economy that still faces the country and the province.

A DA KZN alternate budget would achieve this by;

  • Cutting staff numbers by combining superfluous and poorly managed provincial departments
  • Guaranteeing that departments perform at optimum efficiency
  • Conducting a full independent audit into ghost employees in all departments and ghost pupils in Education
  • No longer tolerating under or over-expenditure with MEC’s held accountable for departmental performance and non-performing MEC’s removed
  • Placing an immediate moratorium on the appointment of consultants in the province
  • Putting an immediate end to all unfunded mandates within the Premiers Office and Economic Development and Tourism – a fiscal ‘black hole’

The DA would reduce KZN’s public sector wage bill. Bureaucracy is costing more and more but ultimately producing less and less. We would achieve this through;

  • Key interventions to avoid above inflation wage increases
  • Cutting back on salaries in non-essential departments
  • Linking salaries to performance to ensure maximum productivity

Critical to the success of KZN is the establishment of an environment that simulates the economy and creates sustainable work opportunity. As per the current ANC leadership, provincial government should not be seen as a job creator but as the creator of an enabling environment.

To achieve economic growth rates that enable job creation, the DA’s alternate budget would focus on accelerating small business growth, addressing youth unemployment and infrastructure development.

It’s time to walk the talk now.  Twenty years of rhetoric just won’t cut it any longer.

The DA would ensure that KZN becomes the most effective provincial administration by;

  • Ensuring a corruption free administration where the term “zero tolerance” is a principle and not just a billboard slogan
  • Being uncompromising when it comes to wasteful, irregular and fruitless expenditure and ensuring that renegade officials feel the full might of the law
  • Ensuring effective and clean governance thereby reducing the astronomical cost of internal audits, special task teams and forensic audits to name but a few
  • Ensuring that Local Government and Municipalities, particularly cities and more urban rural municipalities, become more self reliant on revenue to finance infrastructure investments needed to accelerate economic growth and build a more inclusive economy. This would automatically reduce the current financial burden on the province’s finances and expose poorly performing municipalities.

A DA budget would ensure, through an effective and accountable administration, that challenging financial times ahead could be navigated.

We would ensure that every cent of the province’s budget is spent effectively on its intended purpose – that of effective and sustainable service delivery in our province.

The old adage – ‘take care of the pennies and the pounds will take care of themselves’ – has never rung so true for KZN.

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