Education is walking on a fiscal tightrope. The education budget increases from R26, 287 billion to R26, 972 billion, which is a mere 2, 6 %. If the department fails to deal with the issue of the 6 700 double parked educators and the thousands of employees on extended sick leave, the education budget won’t balance. It will plunge this province into a financial crisis.
Overall the budget has increased by 5, 4% over the previous year, which highlights the extremely tight fiscal space in which the province is operating in. There is absolutely no room for wastage, corruption and maladministration.
R1, 2 billion which could have been appropriated for service delivery has been top-sliced to deal with the previous year’s financial mismanagement.
The issue of the bloated bureaucracy in spite of the MEC’s commitment in the previous financial year was simply not addressed. R38, 478 billion of the province’s total budget of R59, 258 billion is going to the cost of employees. When one takes out the conditional grants, this amounts to 75% of the direct equitable share component of the budget of R50, 164 billion. (Conditional grants amount to R9, 461 billion). This means more and more for personnel and less and less for service delivery.
The biggest winner is the Health Department, whose total budget is increased by increased by R1, 418 billion to R16, 584 billion, an increase of 9, 3%. Economic Development, Environmental Affair and Tourism increases by 15% to R1, 070 billion. However, key departments which impact on economic growth such as Rural Development and Agrarian Reform has barely increased, while Roads and Public Works has decreased by R71 million. The biggest concern is the reduction in the Provincial Roads Maintenance Grant of 28%. Roads are the life blood of our economy and a poor roads network destroys jobs.
We welcome the increase in the budget of Human Settlements by R256 million.