SPEECH BY BOBBY STEVENSON: PROVINCIAL BUDGET 2010/11

The Democratic Alliance has opposed the budgets votes of Health, Education and Agriculture. Our opposition in particular to the two big departments of Health and Education, which constitutes 75% of the budget or R36 billion out of R48 bilion, have resulted in us not being able to support the Provincial Budget this year.

The Democratic Alliance therefore will vote against the budget.

We do not believe that the figures for Health and Education have integrity. In other words, these Departments are going to overspend and not keep within their existing budgets. Even the MEC for Health, Phumulo Masualle on Wednesdady informed the house that the budget for Health was not adequate. The Director General for health, in an interview with the Daily Dispatch, was quoted as saying that he needs R2.9 billion more.

The budget figures before us therefore are simply not credible. There are cost structures that are in place that are now running and at this stage there is not secured funding to sustain this.

If these two main departments over expend they will plunge this Province into financial chaos. Last year the Province overspent by R2.8 billion of which R2 billion which will be topsliced over the next three financial years from the equitable share. If we again overspend by R2.8 billion there will be no increase in the equitable share (Provincial budget next year).

It is said that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. We cannot simply go forward in faith when there is no guarantee that the funding will be secured. The budget needs to be re-prioritised.

Secondly this budget is not innovative enough to meet the needs of the Province. A budget is a political instrument whereby the governing party implements it’s policies and ideology. From the perspective of the Democratic Alliance a budget which is underpinned by the concept of a developmental state and cadre re-deployment can never provide full value for money. The question arises :

• Could a major hospital be run more efficiently if the management of that hospital was outsourced to the private sector and that same hospital was allowed to collect its own fees?

• Could one maintain some schools better if one sold off surplus land around those schools and used those funds for the improvement of the infrastructure of those schools?

• Is there not scope for examining whether one could exchange provincial land for a development or road for example, with a private entity?

If some of these ideas were implemented it would release funding to meet shortfalls in other departments.

A third objection that the Democratic Alliance has revolves around the tender process. There is an urgent need for this Province to undergo tender reform. It has been estimated that up to 20% of our goods and services and capital budget is being lost to corrupt tender practises. IN our Province this would amount to R2.6 billion out of a total budget of R13 billion. By this I am referring to rip-offs, over pricing, poor workmanship and outright corruption. Simply put – Provincial employees should not be able to trade with the Province. IN an interview with the Daily Dispatch the then Superintendent General of the Education Department stated that up to 90% of some senior officials were trading with the Department.

Fourthly, we believe that the amount of savings that have been identified from non core expenditure (R484 million), is insufficient. There are other cuts that can be made.

For these reasons the Democratic Alliance is opposed to this budget. It needs to be re-worked, re-prioritised and certainly be more innovative.