EC budget expectations: Measures needed for honest, efficient and caring government

The budget for the Eastern Cape for 2015/16 will be tabled in the provincial legislature by Finance and Provincial Expenditure MEC Sakhumzi Somyo on Friday, 6 March 2015. 

Below are the DA’s expectations of issues that the MEC should focus on in his speech.

FOR A SOUND CLIP IN ENGLISH CLICK HERE:  EC Budget Expectations (English)

FOR A SOUND CLIP IN AFRIKAANS CLICK HERE:  EC Budget Expectations (Afrikaans)

The Eastern Cape MEC for Finance and Provincial Expenditure, Sakhumzi Somyo, must announce concrete steps to put this province on the high road to honest, efficient and caring government  when he introduces the provincial budget on Friday in Bhisho. The Democratic Alliance expects bold pronouncements to clamp down on corruption and stringent austerity measures to reign in our high expenditure on non-core items such as travel, accommodation and endless workshops.

Unless the MEC tackles the issue of our bloated bureaucracy which consumes 65% of the budget, our province will continue to go backwards as far as service delivery is concerned. Any increase in civil servant’s salaries beyond inflation poses a grave risk to the province’s financial position.

It is not fair for taxpayers to pay more and more and get less and less in return. This is making people angry with the Bhisho government, as they feel betrayed by on-going wastage and corruption.   This is particularly so at local government level, where stringent provincial oversight is necessary.

The budget will be introduced in the context of a slow-growth economy which has resulted in below- inflation increases in our conditional grants and equitable share.   For the 2015/16 year the equitable share of R54, 312 billion amounts to an increase of R2, 158 billion or a mere 4%.  Conditional grants go up from R9, 846 billion to R10, 060 billion, which is a mere 2%. These figures are well below inflation (gazetted in the Division of Revenue Bill).  These figures, together with own revenue, should result in a budget in the region of R66 billion.

It is expected that 75% of the budget will go to education and health.  Our schools and hospitals are crying out for well-spent improvements.   We are hoping that tourism funding will be improved so it can become more of a game changer for economic growth.  We will also be watching closely to see if funding improves for scholar transport and roads.  Our learners and rural community cannot be left in the lurch.

The MEC must make the right policy choices that will improve the climate for economic growth and job creation in this province.  A job is more than a salary – it provides dignity and opportunity for people to get ahead in life. The people of this province deserve a budget that creates the hope that tomorrow can be better than yesterday.