THERE were no bold pronouncements to deal with some of the key issues impacting on the province during Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo’s budget speech for the 2017/2018 year, DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said today.
Somyo indicated in his budget speech on Wednesday that the provincial budget had been cut by R10,14-billion over the last three year. Despite this, he committed the provincial government to spend over R13-billion this financial year on the creation of 49 000 job opportunities as part of the Extended Public Works programme.
Stevenson said the province is desperate for job creation and economic growth.
“How can this happen when the budget for the lead department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism’s budget is decreased by 7%, compared to the previous year?
Whereas MEC Sakhumzi Somyo spoke about broadband rollout for government departments, he said nothing about the crying need for free wi-fi hotspots throughout this province, particularly in all provincial libraries. This is a definite game-changer when it comes to economic growth. ”
The EC bureaucracy continued to remain bloated, at 64.6% of the whole budget with no positive steps announced to rationalise the high cost of public entities which was alluded to in the previous budget speech, Stevenson added.
“The whole issue of medico-legal costs is a dark shadow hanging over this budget with the province facing 2 000 claims and having to allocated R17-billion to contingent liabilities for this. Currently, vehicles of the health department are being attached because it can not pay for these claims. ”
“We welcome the increases of 12% for the Roads Maintenance Infrastructure Grant and 12% for the Human Settlements Development Grant. ”
The DA believes that boosting economic growth and redirecting resources to core business along with a comprehensive expenditure review will place this province on the high road to opportunity and prosperity, Stevenson said.