The Democratic Alliance voted against the provincial budget this month for four clear reasons.
• The figures lack integrity;
• The budget lacks innovation
• There needs to be urgent tender reform;
• Saving from non-core expenditure is not enough.
“Continued overspending will plunge the province into further financial chaos.”
The DA had particular problems with the proposed budgets for the Departments of Health and Education, which constitutes 75% or R36 billion out of the total provincial budget of R48 billion.
“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”, said Legislature Leader Bobby Stevenson during the budget debate in the House.
“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 overspend 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,” he said.
Stevenson added that the budget was 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”.
A third objection that the DA 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 practices. 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,” Stevenson said.
Lastly, the DA believes 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 DA is opposed to this budget. It needs to be re-worked, re-prioritised and certainly be more innovative,” Stevenson said.