Summary of the DA’s Position
The Democratic Alliance is opposed to the following budgets:
- The Department of Human Settlements;
- The Department of Economic Development, Environment Affairs and Tourism;
- The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform; and
- The Department of Health.
The Department of Human Settlements:
We cannot support the Human Settlements Grant which has been reduced by 14, 78% or R330-million (R2, 239-billion in 2017/18 to R1, 908-billion in 2018/19). By voting for the budget we would be endorsing the National Government’s mismanagement of the economy. This will result in less houses being built and poor people continuing to suffer the consequences of not having dignified shelter. In the last financial year 12 453 units were constructed – this year, only 8 567 will be constructed.
The Budget of the Department of Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism has not been correctly prioritised within the Provincial Budget. The budget has only received 1.46% of the total Provincial Budget in the face of the job crisis that this province has. It is this department’s key task to create the right environment for jobs in the Eastern Cape.
Over the years, the budget has not received the priority that it should. The consequence of this is that we are now number eight on the provincial list when it comes to attracting international tourists; we used to be number three.
We have also gone backwards as far as domestic tourism is concerned and we are now number five.
Not only has the overall budget not been correctly prioritised within the total budget of the province but within the department, its budget has also not been correctly prioritised.
We are sitting with bloated public entities whose ten CEO’s receive a total of R30-million a year.
The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform:
The Department of Rural Development and Agrarian Reform continues to pour funding into the tea plantations. R53-million is going to be poured into Magwa this financial year. I understand that another R47, 9-million has been redirected from other projects for the use of the tea plantations. This is on top of the hundreds of millions of rands that have been poured into these estates over the years.
These two tea plantations cannot continue to be a drain at the expense of other rural development needs.
This is probably the most expensive job creation exercise in the province’s history with Magwa employing 901 people and Majola 188 people.
With regard to the Health Budget, we do not believe that it is a credible budget that will meet the needs of the people in this province. It faces the problems of accruals, the increased costs of medicine due to exchange rates and Medico-legal expenses.
A further example of where this budget is not credible is that it is the major culprit when it comes to not paying businesses within 30 days. As of April, there were 3 476 suppliers that were owed money by the Health Department in excess of 30 days.
This budget, as it is constructed, is unlikely to stand and is going to come apart at the seams.
The DA believes that Medico-legal claims, now R17-billion, should be removed from this department’s budget and placed either under the Office of the Premier or National Treasury where these claims can be better managed.
We also have a concern with scholar transport, where the department pays per capacity and not per pupil. This has resulted in the department paying for the utilisation of a bus in one instance, to convey one pupil. It is no wonder that 29 000 learners in this province who deserve scholar transport, are not receiving it.
The DA is thus opposed to the budgets as outlined above. They will not contribute to alleviating poverty and inequality in their current form.
What this province requires is strong leadership to ensure that funding is correctly prioritised and is spent efficiently and effectively.