The budget for the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEDEAT) for 2013/14 has increased by 31%, which sees all the public entities’ budgets increase with only the East London IDZ (EL IDZ) decreasing, and a significant amount of 15.2% at that.

The question that comes to mind is: What does MEC Jonas have against the EL IDZ?

DEDEAT’s budget has increased to R1.07 billion from last years revised budget. Although this includes once off payments for projects to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) and Coega, it has allowed for increases aross the board within the department, with the notable exception of the EL IDZ.

While primarily dysfunctional and highly questional boards like the Eastern Cape Gambling and Betting Board (ECGBB) sees an unnecessary increase of 48.8%, the only reasoning MEC Mcebisi Jonas can give for the decrease for the EL IDZ is: budgetary cuts.

This is a difficult rationale to accept considering the EL IDZ is undoubtedly one of the department’s more successful entities. It has averaged an annual investment of approximately R350 million and has created/maintained an average of 2 000 sustainable jobs in the Buffalo City Metropolitan area. As we know the department every year prioritizes the creation of “job opportunities” whereas the employment created by the IDZ is sustainable employment.

An interesting point to ponder is the fact that the EL IDZ is the only entity within the department not accused of having Jonas-friendly cohorts on its board. Could it be this, or does the MEC clearly just not have an interest in the development of economy within the Buffalo City Metropolitan area?

As an attempt at consolation, the MEC said that the department would look at making certain project funding easier for the entity to attain, but it does not take one with political savvy to see through this as nothing more than lip service and that even if granted, won’t make up for the operational deficit the IDZ will have facing this decrease.

It is clear that the budget allocations need to be relooked, decreasing the budgets of frivolous money wasting entites such as the EC Gambling and Betting Board, and “investing” the funds in entities that actually facilitate the direct creation of jobs that are so drastically needed in this day and age.

I will be insisting to the Economic Development Portfolio Committee that we drive for the reallocation of more economic growth friendly budgets.

As always, the Democratic Alliance will consistently drive for the proper treatment of public entities that proves themselves capable of creating sustainable economic growth and jobs for the people of the Eastern Cape.