The big winner in the Eastern Cape’s provincial budget is Roads and Public Works and the big loser in 2012/13 is the Health department.
The Roads Maintenance Grant has increased by 32 %, to R 1.369 billion and this is good for our economy. It’s a ray of sunshine in the budget.
The big concern is around the Health Department which receives R 15.66 billion. It sees a decline of 2.7% or R 424 million in its budget.
The department is currently battling to pay its suppliers and the budget gives no hope that a turnabout strategy is in place.
The emphasis on no-fee schools and the fact that many more needy learners will benefit from the school nutrition programme in the new financial year due is welcomed.
The budget speech however, does not come to grips with the cost of temporary educators.
The core issues that continue to haunt this budget are spiralling costs of personnel, the under expenditure on the capital budget as well as the management of the whole tender process.
The spiralling costs of personnel need to be capped – 77 % of the equitable share received from national government goes towards personnel. This is way out.
It is estimated that R 1.2 billion that could have been allocated to departments, has been held back to pay for expenditure in previous financial years.
Another issue which was not addressed strongly enough is the under expenditure on capital budgets. The fact that the Education Department has only spent 30 % of its capital budget as at the end of the third quarter of 2011/12 highlights the seriousness of the problem.
The DA believes that there needs to be strong political leadership to deal decisively with the problematic areas of provincial finances. Year in and year out these problems continue. Poor administration keeps poor people poor.
Only efficient and clean government will create the right environment for service delivery, job creation and poverty alleviation.