The Eastern Cape MEC for Finance and Provincial Planning, Sakhumzi Somyo, introduced the provincial budget for 2017/18 in the Bhisho legislature today. (subs: 2 March 2017)
There were no bold pronouncements to deal with some of the key issues impacting on the province.
This 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 the MEC 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.
Our bureaucracy continues 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 his previous budget speech.
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’t 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. — Bobby Stevenson MPL, Shadow MEC for Finance