Pre-pandemic budget adopted despite biggest health care crisis in a century

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Finance

The Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature have adopted a pre-pandemic budget, despite being hit by the biggest health care crisis in a century.

Even though the Eastern Cape Health Department is collapsing under the pressure of increasing COVID-19 infections, the province has adopted a budget with almost no additional funding for this struggling department.

The Democratic Alliance accepts that it is impossible to address all of the inherent, historically fiscal problems within this years’ budget, but the fact that there is no meaningful change of direction by the provincial administration amidst these challenging times is ludicrous!

Last week MEC for Health, Sindiswa Gomba, admitted publicly that her department is bankrupt, with the total outstanding to creditors as of 31 March 2020, standing at a staggering R3.18 billion.

Medico-legal claims for medical negligence and malpractice against the department is also set to surpass R30 billion during the current financial year.

The R86 billion budget that was adopted by the province today will see a whopping R57 billion, 67% of the entire budget, being allocated to the wage bill for civil servants.

There is a significant decrease in spending on goods and services, which will constitute only R14.3 billion, or 16.6% of the budget, for the financial year at hand. Only R4.63 billion, or 5.4% of the total budget, will be spent on infrastructure development and refurbishment.

The fact that the province is especially unwilling to address the unfolding financial crisis in the Department of Health is nothing less than provincial suicide and it is compromising the health and wellbeing of each and every resident of the Eastern Cape.

It seems as if the Eastern Cape Provincial Government is in denial insofar as our fiscal realities are concerned.

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