COMMENT: EASTERN CAPE BUDGET

The DA regards the 2011/12 Eastern Cape budget as untruthful and devious. The budget is significant for what was unsaid rather than what was said. The MEC for Finance, Phumulo Masualle, must come clean with the public and spell out the real state of the province’s finances.

In his budget speech he pointed out that the income of the province was R53.7 billion. The Appropriation Bill before the House was R52.6 billion. Why MEC, did you not tell us that R1.1 billion is being top-spiced because of the over expenditure in Health and Education where the accumulative over expenditure is anything between R3.5 billion and R4 billion. This amount will have to be top-sliced off the provinces’ already over-stretched budget over the next three years.

A second issue which the MEC avoided relates to the massive under expenditure in Health (R981 million) and Education (R743 million) on conditional grants and infrastructural under spending. To say that the province won’t “forced into external borrowing” when one fails to mention that the under expenditure in these departments is offset against largely personnel over expenditure is ingenious.

Although the overall budget increased by 9%, the increase in the key departments that impact on economic growth was disappointing.

Agriculture and Rural Development received no increase, Roads and Public Works received a 4% increase and Economic Development a 5% increase.

These budget allocations do not give credibility to the emphasis put on jobs in the MEC’s speech. He failed to mention how the new Dedicated Road Maintenance Fund would be accessed. A sound roads network is the bedrock of our provincial economy. Roads unlock economic opportunity by connecting people and products more effectively.

We are still concerned that Health and Education will continue to overspend. No mentioned was made on innovative interventions such as leveraging our assets such as finance and land to secure investment that we need so desperately to secure jobs.

We welcome the increase of 36% in the budget for Housing but will be monitoring the expenditure and the quality of housing projects very closely. Without adequate inspections we failed to get value for money expenditure.

The DA believes in a people-centered society where the job of the state is to facilitate the climate for economic growth. We reiterate our view that this province can become a place of rising opportunity where the quality of life of all our people is improved if the right policy choices are made. This budget fails to do that.