R3 billion is the budgetary shortfall that is projected for Health and Education in the current financial year “if nothing is done”. This was the response of the MEC for Finance, Mcibisi Jonas, to a follow-up question of mine during the oral questioning time in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature yesterday (subs: wed: 25 Aug).

The follow-up question related to “whether any expenditure patterns emerged in any department which are a cause for concern –if so, what are the relevant details”.

The projected budgetary shortfall of R3 billion relates to cost of employment pressures for the carry-through costs in the area of occupation specific dispensation and conditions of improvement of service for public servants. (Editors: see attached reply)

This revelation comes as no surprise to the Democratic Alliance as we took the historic step of voting against the whole provincial budget for 2010/2011 because we had no faith in the figures that we placed before us. They simply weren’t credible.

If one adds the R2 billion that has to be top-sliced from future provincial budgets to pay for last years’ debt (2009/2010), the magnitude of the financial crisis impacting on the province is horrific.

What needs to be done:

1. The vacancy for the HOD of the Provincial treasury needs to be filled as a matter of urgency. It is vacant since December last year and was re-advertised last week.

2. Provincial Treasury needs to provide the tough leadership so that sound financial management is restored to this province. We need a Treasury with political and administrative clout.

3. National Treasury must clarify to what extent they will assist the Eastern Cape.

4. A real belt-tightening exercise needs to be engaged in so only core business is focussed on.

5. There needs to be reform of the tender process as it’s been estimated that more than 20% of our capital and goods and services budget (R13 billion) is lost through poor administration, over-pricing, poor workmanship and outright corruption.

6. The oversight work of Scopa and the Portfolio Committee of Finance needs to be beefed up to turn the situation around. The problem is political and not simply administrative.

For further information, please contact Bobby Stevenson, MPL on 082 775 3444.

To view current DA statements go to www.dabhisho.org.za

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