The Eastern Cape will not have a voice in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) today, where the National Adjustments Budget is being discussed, due to the abysmal turnout at the public hearings last week Friday.
The only stakeholder to join the public hearing on the 2022 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill and give input was Nelson Mandela Bay Executive Mayor, DA councillor Retief Odendaal.
Once the adjustments budget is tabled in the National Assembly, it is referred to the NCOP for provincial input before being finalised.
However, the EC Legislature had no option but to mandate the Eastern Cape Permanent Delegate to NCOP to abstain from offering any views on the Bill.
The lack of input has been attributed to the late notice given by the NCOP calling for input and the ongoing disruptions caused by loadshedding.
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It is clear that very little in terms of monetary relief will be coming to the province from the amendments that have been made. There is an R1,3 billion adjustment to cover the 3% increase for state employees, and some disaster relief funding to cover damages caused by the April floods.
Provincial allocations as a percentage of the national fiscus are declining, from 41.3% in the 2019/20 financial year, to just 40,3% for the 22/23 financial year.
Finance MEC, Mlungisi Mvoko, will therefore have his work cut out for him as he tries to balance the books during the Eastern Cape Adjustments Budget that is to be tabled on Thursday this week.
Years of financial mismanagement, and lack of political will to make the hard decisions, have seen runaway spending within certain departments, crippling the provincial fiscus. These departments have left the Finance MEC with the unenviable task of taking funds from fiscally responsible departments to pay for these transgressions.
As the MEC tries to balance the books, the people of the province suffer, as funds meant for service delivery must be diverted to cover out-of-control spending.
Both Health and Education have seen accruals grow, year-on-year, which shows that the leadership are not addressing the problem or making the tough decisions to cut back on unnecessary spending.
If we are to bring financial stability back to the province and prevent complete collapse, these departments need to be brought to order. These Departments must be placed under administration in terms of section 100 of the Constitution.