Gauteng deserves an innovative, pro-citizen budget

by Adriana Randall MPL – DA Gauteng Shadow MEC for Finance

Gauteng will be hard hit by the reduced allocation of funds from National Treasury. With Gauteng being home to 13 million people, of which 33% are unemployed or not economically active, smart spending of public money is critical to ensure that South Africa’s most populace province can improve the lives of its residents and revive its economy.

Gauteng Finance MEC, Barbara Creecy in tabling her budget tomorrow must ensure that every Rand of public money is utilised to improve the living conditions and quality of life of the people of Gauteng.

She will have to put forward a fiscal plan to not only stimulate growth, but to ensure that provincial departments are equipped to carry out their mandates.

Of critical importance is that MEC Creecy announce steps to counter under-spending, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and the ever-growing number of accruals in departments.

Consequence management must not be another slogan that the MEC touts, but must become a reality across the Provincial Government. Underperforming Heads of Departments as well as Accounting Officers must be held liable and punished for the failings of departments.

It cannot be business as usual where poor performers are not penalised for the misuse of public money.

To make the province a success, it is imperative that this budget reflects the needs of citizens.

Some of the steps that Creecy must act upon are:

  • Reduction of expenditure on non-core functions such as advertising, catering and the use of consultants;
    • Improve provincial revenue collection;
    • Rationalise provincial entities;
    • Reduce the size of the provincial wage bill which currently sits at over 2% of inflation; and
    • Ensure that the budget fund to spend on township enterprises meets its target and is not a continual item of under-expenditure.

The departments of Health and Education are set to receive the lion’s share of the budget.

It is essential that these departments are monitored closely, as the Department of Health is a major offender when it comes to late payments, accruals as well as mismanagement of funds.

The Department of Education must ensure that it uses its budget to increase the quality of teaching and learning by upgrading dilapidated schools and increase the number of schools so as to reduce over-crowding.

An announcement of an intervention strategy for the Department of Human Settlements and Cooperative Governance must be made.

Under the watch of MEC Paul Mashatile, the department has returned unspent budget allocations back to Treasury twice. This year the department has returned R150 million.

With a housing backlog of 600 000 units, it is imperative that this department be made to get its act together to ensure that residents of this province are afforded decent housing which will elevate their standard of living.

This department is also responsible for the melt-down of many of the province’s local municipalities. Emfuleni and Merafong face power and water cuts due the financial mismanagement of ANC mayors. The department must intervene with a plan to revive these municipalities before they implode.

There are numerous challenges facing Gauteng.

But these challenges are not insurmountable.

MEC Creecy cannot continue on the path that has been tread for the past four years under the Makhura administration. Innovation, professionalism and accountability must be at the fore of a people-centred budget.

Where the DA governs, efficient and effective service delivery are the hallmarks of how a budget is to be utilised. Come 2019, residents of Gauteng will be able to feel the real change brought about by a DA-led Gauteng Government.