East Cape’s budget wish list: The Herald

Energy crisis and Nooitgedacht water scheme major concerns

THE Eastern Cape will be holding thumbs that it gets its fair share of the budget pie. Widely regarded as the poorest province in the country, the Eastern Cape will this afternoon listen with interest as Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene delivers his first budget speech.

Provincial DA finance spokesman Bobby Stevenson is hoping Nene will make an announcement in regard to the R300-million necessary for the Nooitgedacht water scheme.

This is despite the announcement last week that President Jacob Zuma would not honour the promise he made before last year’s election of a R300-million injection to complete the project to stabilise Nelson Mandela Bay’s ailing water supply.

“It is vitally important to save Port Elizabeth from the imminent water crisis that the city faces.

“I am also hoping he will make a very strong statement about reining in excessive government expenditure on non-core items such as travel, accommodation and endless workshops that take place in non-state buildings,” Stevenson said.

EFF MPL Themba Wele said the party wanted the minister to prioritise education and the development of rural areas in the Eastern Cape.

“This would mean jobs growth and the eradication of youth unemployment,” Wele said.

Nelson Mandela Bay Business Chamber chief executive Kevin Hustler said a major concern in the country was the allocation of funding to reduce the critical energy deficit.

“For the Eastern Cape in particular, we would like to see more detail relating to a coordinated infrastructure and logistics plan for the province, aimed at stimulating slow economic growth and assisting in creating much-needed sustainable employment.

“We would also like to see the minister allocate significant funding to infrastructure projects such as the Addo Road and the Nooitgedacht scheme,” Hustler said.

Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University Department of Economics Professor Emeritus Charles Wait said he hoped Nene would dig in his heels when it came to cutting the government’s running expenses, mainly salaries.

“I do not expect him to announce, what he should be announcing, and that is privatising the state-owned enterprises that are costing us so much money, like Eskom and South African Airways.

“Personal income tax could be increased for the higher income groups, which economically would not necessarily be a good idea. However, I think there is a real possibility that fuel duties will be increased substantially,” Wait said.