The Gauteng 2023/24 budget displays a lack of service delivery and empty election promises.
This budget does not inspire any confidence. On the surface the budget hits all the right notes in terms of growing the economy and creating more jobs. This is nothing that we have not heard before.
Gauteng’s total budget is R158 945 081 000, and this year spending will focus on the following key priority areas:
- Economic recovery and reconstruction;
- Strengthening the battle against crime, vandalism, corruption and lawlessness;
- Health and Wellness programmes;
- Changing the living conditions in Townships, Informal Settlements and Hostels (TISH);
- Strengthening the capacity of the state.
The provincial government has bold plans in place to attract investors but fails to explain how they will clamp down on corruption and wasteful expenditure. It is essential that proper plans are put in place to deal with officials who are intent on looting the public purse.
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is worried that the proposed establishment of a Provincial State Bank and State Pharmacy will not be used to the benefit of our residents but only a few individuals who have connections within the department tasked to run these new entities. Is this really worth prioritising, in lieu of the serious challenges to residents’ livelihoods rising from a battered economy and constant blackouts?
The Department of Community Safety has received a huge increase in their budget from R1 374 065 000 to R2 706 192 000. This is to strengthen the province’s crime fighting strategy that was put forward in Premier Panyaza Lesufi’s State of the Province Address (SOPA) earlier this year.
Gauteng residents have been promised that e-Tolls are a thing of the past. However, MEC Mamabolo indicated that no budget has been allocated to the e-Toll debt for the 2023/2024 financial year and that the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with National Treasury is still not done.
The increase in the Education budget is welcomed, as the constant inward migration of residents to the province puts a huge strain on our schools. The maintenance and building of new schools is of utmost importance. We therefore urge the department of Infrastructure Development to support Education in fast tracking the building of new schools.
The department of Infrastructure Development also needs to urgently support other client departments especially Roads and Transport and Health where critical infrastructure projects are often delayed and absconded by contractors.
Health is unable to pay its service providers on time, and for that reason we welcome the establishment of an Invoicing Dispute Resolution Unit to deal with disputed and unpaid invoices.
This budget is clearly aligned to attract voters to support the governing party in the 2024 general elections, a sign of desperation as current polling puts the ANC below 50%. Gauteng residents do not deserve a budget that is full on empty promises.