The Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Sakhumzi Somyo, will be tabling the 2018/2019 provincial budget in the Bhisho Legislature today (Wednesday, 7 March 2017).
The Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Sakhumzi Somyo, will have to walk a tightrope between the increasing wage bill for civil servants and service delivery. This is particularly so in light of reduced conditional grants from the national government and an overall provincial budget that has increased by a mere 4.9% when our equitable share is added to conditional grants. Unless the wage bill is contained within the same parameters, far less will be available for service delivery.
Two provincial departments that will feel the effects of a frugal national budget are education and housing. The Education Infrastructure Grant has been reduced by 5.69%, which will impact heavily on the already slow delivery of schools, hostels and ablution facilities in our province, despite the national Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI). This will drag out the effective delivery of quality education across our province for even longer.
The Human Settlements Grant has been reduced by 14.78% which will also impact very negatively on the need for housing for all our Eastern Cape citizens. A house is an opportunity that puts one on the ladder of economic freedom.
What the Eastern Cape needs is not more of the same but a total change when it comes to prioritising the budget. — Jane Cowley MPL, member of the Portfolio Committee on Finance