No COVID Budget lifeline for Eastern Cape

Issued by Retief Odendaal, MPL
Shadow MEC for Finance

The Special Adjustments Appropriation passed by the Eastern Cape Legislature today offers the people of the Eastern Cape no hope at all.

What should have been a budget to support and guide our people through the worst health and economic crisis that have ever faced this country has become a box-ticking exercise for bureaucrats.

At a time when the government should be pulling out all the stops to assist those people who are bearing the brunt of the economic fallout caused by draconian lockdown measures that were put in place, this government has decided further relief measures can wait.

Unfortunately, what was passed today was a document that only accommodates the changes to grant funding allocations that National Treasury has effected in the National Adjustments Appropriation.

Notwithstanding all the discussions and deliberations of the Finance Committee on the fiscal and economic challenges that the Province and the country are facing, sadly, none of those considerations have been included in this Budget.

The Democratic Alliance had proposed:

  1. The Establishment of a Tourism Recovery Fund. Investment in tourism could possibly yield very positive results, quickly;
  2. The Establishment of a Provincial SMME COVID Support Fund. Savings within the existing Budget of at least R1 Billion should be utilised to support small and medium enterprises who have not benefitted from other support funds from national government;
  3. Additional Budget to be made available and set aside for urgent Drought Relief measures for struggling farmers;
  4. Establishment of a once-off bailout fund for cash strapped municipalities. Assistance could be given to qualifying cash strapped municipalities which are willing to implement a strict financial turnaround plan to be monitored by provincial treasury;
  5. Budget virements to be affected to non-core service delivery related spending in order to prioritise spending on capital infrastructure projects.

These submissions could easily have been accommodated in the Adjustments Budget but sadly, were not.

The DA rejects the Adjustments Appropriation for lack of credibility and substance during the current economic and socio-economic circumstances. It is a COVID-19 Adjustments Budget without any actual funding being set aside to deal with the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic!

If anything, this Budget is an insult to the people of the Eastern Cape and bears testimony to the fact that the ANC government has no solutions to the problems of our beloved Province.