KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) MEC for Finance, Ms Belinda Scott, tabled the 2015/16 Adjustment Estimates at Legislature in Pietermaritzburg today.
The KwaZulu-Natal government is determined to remain focused on ensuring a better life for all, despite the challenges of ongoing spending cuts and other economic and financial pressures.
It will continue to deliver even more services to the people, while at the same time ensuring sustainable public finances, eliminating wastage, improving the productivity of public servants and, as the MEC Scott says, “do more with less.”
Her adjustments estimate budget which she tabled today, reveals that there will be more milestones, more housing (the additional funding for this is significant), more electrification, more water for those without any supplies – and that includes hundreds of schools – as well as better toilet facilities for needy schools.
Recognising the excellent work done by the government’s social partners, more funding of R139.712 million, spread over three years, will also go to supporting non-government organisations doing all-important social work around the province. This is a 6 percent increase which was first announced in the main budget in March. However, the Social Development department, which transfers the funds, had not provided for the increase.
The MEC pointed out that the unprecedented flagship R1.400 billion development and regeneration project (known as Inkululeko 1) in rural Ndumo, north of the province, which started in 2013, was a classic example of government’s commitment to provide services (schools, a clinic, clean running water, modern roads and a shopping centre) to better the lives of the people. Thousands of local people also benefitted from jobs, and also gained skills, on the development.
A day care centre for the elderly is now planned, and the provincial Social Development department is to receive R7.396 million in the adjustments budget for this project. The funding will be spread over three years, starting in 2015/16 and ending in 2017/18.
So successful has this project been, that the provincial government is now in the process of replicating the model in Msinga and Cwaka, which will mean more infrastructure, better lives, education and health care.
The province continues to maintain a healthy cash positive position and the cost-cutting measures that were first introduced in 2009/2010 are still being implemented by the various departments and entities.
Additional cost-cutting measures have also been introduced as a result of the 2015 wage agreement increase. This is above-the-budget and cannot be fully funded by the National Treasury, leaving the country’s provinces to pick up the bill for more than half of the increases.
The 2015 agreement includes a 7 percent increase (as opposed to the 5.6 percent provided for in the main March budget), R300 housing allowance for some staff, and a 28.5 percent increase in government’s contribution to the GEMS medical scheme.
This resulted in a R1.749 billion shortfall for the province and, with National Treasury providing R877 million towards this, the province was left to fund the remaining shortfall of R871.642 million.
Some R733.422 million has been allocated from provincial funding to provincial departments in the adjustments budget to ensure they are fully compensated for the impact of the wage agreement in 2015/16.
Another R70.065m has been earmarked to help meet the increased wage bill in 2016/17.
To meet the KZN shortfall, vacant posts have been frozen, with critical posts only permitted to be filled with the express approval of the Premier and the MEC for Finance.
MEC Scott said that to meet the shortfalls in the forthcoming years, it was imperative to find resources to unlock economic development in the province.
One place where that can be done is at the Richards Bay Industrial Development Zone, where encouraging progress was being made. The IDZ now needs to acquire more land because of the demand.
The MEC pointed out that the provincial government was a major player in the regional economy (R20.644 billion was spent on goods and services and an extra R7.728 billion on capital outlay) and attention had to be paid to how it procured its goods and services.
Tender documents were now being made more user-friendly and a single procurement bill is being developed to replace the 80-plus legal instruments, guidelines and instruction notes that govern public procurement.
The families of the eight Road Traffic Inspectorate (RTI) applicants who died during training sessions in the heat at the Harry Gwala Stadium in Pietermaritzburg on December 27 and 28, 2012, as well as the injured, are to receive pay-outs now that the RTI Commission of Inquiry has finished its work and the legal costs have been determined. The Transport department has been allocated R6.989million for this, with R1.949 million earmarked for the legal costs.
The province ended the financial year with a surplus of R941.125 million to finance its various commitments in the adjustments budget.
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SOURCE: SOUTH AFRICAN OFFICIAL NEWS