DA KZN: Our province is facing a Budget Tsunami

Democratic Alliance Debate on the KZN Adjustments Bill by Francois Rodgers, MPL

DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance

 

‘A society cannot be fair if there exists large scale inequality. A fair society requires a growing economy and access to opportunities for all South Africans.

Central to empowering South Africans is ensuring that they are free from the deprivations that rob them of their ability to use their opportunities. This requires:

  • A system of social security to protect people from extreme poverty;
  • The delivery of high quality basic services;
  • Excellent education and healthcare;
  • A functional criminal justice system to keep people safe;
  • A growing economy to enable people to access jobs and;
  • Measures to level the playing field of opportunities, as quick as possible, for people who today are still at a disadvantage because of the injustices of the past.’

If one considers these six key points in the DA Values Charter one must wonder how many of these boxes were ticked during the past six months of the 2015/16 midyear performance of KZN and whether the adjustments budget will address any of these critical areas.

Can KZN’s ANC-led government honestly say;

  • We protected people from extreme poverty?
  • We delivered high quality basic services?
  • We delivered excellent education and healthcare?
  • We grew the economy creating access to jobs?

To have under spent the 2014/15 budget by over R440million is in itself a reflection of the failure to change the lives of ordinary people in KZN.  The ultimate effect of this is that funds are then spent in a later fiscal year and ultimately inflation eats away at the spend.

In analyzing departmental financial data one can easily become the victim of equating expenditure with effective service delivery.  This is not the case – there is a vast difference between budget expenditure and effective budget expenditure that is ultimately able to transform mediocrity into excellence.

During the recent mid-term budget hearings most departments gave the portfolio the committee the unconditional assurance that expenditure would be met as at financial year. That’s all good and well, tell that to somebody who is unemployed, starved and has a family to protect and feed – ‘don’t panic just wait till the third and fourth quarter we might just have something for you – just a while longer’.

This mentality is an insult to the poor and vulnerable in our community and does not level the playing fields of opportunities, as quickly as possible.

There are still too many people at a disadvantage because of the injustices of the past. There is no excuse for under expenditure of conditional grant funding and any such under spend should become a treasonable offence as it ultimately impacts on the survival of our vulnerable citizens.

At face value the adjustment estimates for 2015/16 looks good.  But closer scrutiny indicates that many of the adjustments are a sign of an election budget rather than one which addresses the needs of the people of KZN.

KZN is now suffering as a result of the financial implications of the 2015 budget wage agreement. As I have mentioned previously the consequences of this will definitely impact on the ultimate objective of service delivery.

This is clearly borne out by the R871million that has been funded from within the provincial fiscus – money that should have been earmarked for service delivery and job creation. The consequence of this wage agreement will further impact in the outer years as almost R2 billion will have to be funded from the provincial fiscus, again impacting on service delivery in KZN.

KZN faces another Tsunami in terms of future budgets as we await the return of 850 medical students from Cuba who must still be integrated into our health department with a budgeted consequence of almost R1billion. The question is – has the department budgeted for this?  Their existing budget allocation will not cover this impact.

The DA welcomes the R130 million allocated for electrification projects for various municipalities.  However we question the timing of this allocation running up to an election year.  Why has this not been rolled out over the past budget years?

We note with suspicion the R25million allocated for voter education, demarcation road shows and voter registration campaigns.  One can only question this allocation as most of these areas should be covered by the IEC.

Another grave concern is R5.5 million budgeted for the feasibility study of the Provincial legislature complex and the staggering R660 million held in the provincial revenue fund for the structure of this precinct.  While not allocated for 2015/16 it is evident that this project is going to proceed with a massive R660 million rand of the peoples’ money spent on building a legacy for the incumbent ANC comrades.

How will this benefit the people of this province? In her address on the adjustments estimates MEC Belinda Scott was at pains to point out the great strides made in the province;

“Our focus remains on ensuring a better life for all, despite these economic hardships. This is evidenced by the fact that we are making a palpable difference in the lives of our people”.

I am not sure that Mathews Phosa would quite agree with this statement.

How is this expenditure going to make a palpable difference or ensure a better life for all? How can KZN even begin to justify this expenditure when we have the highest levels of unemployment in our province?

The DA welcomes the allocation of the 6% increase on all transfers to NGO’s and here we must recognise the dogged attitude of the DA’s Honourable Viranna who, through his determination, managed to resolve the impasse between the MEC of Finance and the MEC Social Development who appeared to be on different pages.

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