Differing responses from political parties: The Herald

THE mid-term budget speech received mixed reactions from political parties in the Eastern Cape, with only the ANC saying it was a good speech.

The province, which receives the third largest portion of the provincial equitable share, had its budget for 2014-15 slashed from more than R52-billion announced in February to the R51.7-billion announced in Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene’s medium-term budget policy statement yesterday.

Announcing the provincial cuts, Nene said “efficiency improvements would be prioritised in the core areas of service delivery: basic education, health, roads and social development”.

However, DA MPL Bobby Stevenson was not impressed with the revised 1.4% rate which the economy was expected to grow by.

Nene said: “Honourable speaker, when we tabled the 2014 budget in February, we expected the economy to grow by 2.7% this year. “The revised estimate is 1.4%. “The Treasury projects growth will reach 3% in 2017.”

Stevenson said this was a sign of the government’s economic plan having failed.

“My greatest concern is the economic growth percentage being cut to 1.4% which is bad news because the economy is not growing fast enough to create jobs,” he said.

“I didn’t see any bold pronouncements that will create the economy we need.

“The amount of debt we are incurring is growing which means there is less money for service deliver y.”

Stevenson said the only positive in the speech was that Nene had acknowledged there were problems of wastefulness, maladministration and 61% of government money was going towards salaries.

ANC provincial deputy chairman Sakhumzi Somyo, who is also Finance MEC, praised Nene’s speech, saying he had shown that the government was serious about improving services to the people.

“We fully support the speech because we need to keep our focus on service delivery and the commitment to fund Eskom is a brilliant approach,” he said.

“The emphasis was on efficiency which is in line with what our premier [Phumulo Masualle] wants to achieve.

“The fact there was mention of the NDP, which is a good plan which aims to narrow the gap of poverty, is a good thing.”

UDM provincial legislature leader Max Mhlathi echoed Stevenson on the country not growing the economy at a sufficiently fast rate.

EFF MPL Dingezweni Peter said the party supported the emphasis on improved health services and education.

“Yes, the ideas are there but there is really no implementation plan in place,” he said.

“We need to invest in proper equipment in our hospitals and clinics that will stand the test of time.”

Peter stressed the need to have properly qualified people and officials in local government. – Additional reporting by Bianca Capazorio