The tabling of the Adjustment Appropriation Bill in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature today made it clear that the Eastern Cape Gravy Train is still fully operational, with no bold plans for cost cutting measures.
The message was clear that it is still business as usual, with the acting MEC of Finance, Nonkqubela Pieters, not pronouncing on any stringent cost containment measures.
The province continues to spend money on frivolous, non-service delivery related matters, while struggling to pay its creditors in departments such as Health and Education.
In this budget, we still have more money for the travel and accommodation for officials, than we have for medical supplies for all the people of the Eastern Cape.
Acting MEC Pieters also failed to address the elephant in the House; the rampant, unaffordable cost of employment (COE) in the public sector. Failure by government to address the ever-increasing COE will lead to the systematic collapse of service delivery in the province, as less and less money is left for infrastructure, goods and services.
It is also concerning that nothing was said about the R928,477 million identified as unauthorised expenditure, or the R67,231 million identified as fruitless and wasteful expenditure by the Auditor General.
There were no reprimands for the repeated failings of departments to implement the recommendations from the Auditor General, or any indications from the MEC that the political leadership would be held to account.
The DA does welcome the announcement of R130 million that has been set aside for drought relief, which is R56 million more than what was initially announced last week.
However, we remain concerned that this funding is not nearly enough to deal with the disastrous effects of the debilitating drought that has a firm grip on the province. Taps are running dry, crops are wilting, and livestock are dying. More needs to be done.
In short, this was an adjustment budget that is completely out of touch with the financial realities that are facing the province.