Tomorrow, Thursday 5 March 2020, the MEC for Finance, Nomantu Nkomo Ralehoko will be delivering her first provincial budget speech in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL).
MEC Ralehoko will be outlining exactly how government will be spending its budget for the 2020/2021 financial year.
The Finance MEC will have to carefully balance the budget under tough economic conditions which means that the MEC will have to look at cutting the public servants’ wage bill, as compensation comprises almost 60% of the budget.
Given the tough economic climate, the lower than expected economic growth will also lead to lower than projected revenue collection by departments.
SMMEs are not only severely affected by the current economic conditions, but are also crippled by the intermittent power supply. Considering the current situation with Eskom, the MEC should look at providing assistance to Independent Power Producers (IPPs) to help ease the burden on Eskom.
Currently, government is paying exorbitant prices for goods and services through its Supply Chain Management Process. This needs to change and there needs to be price bench-marking for goods and services procured by government. This will help to clamp down on fraud, corruption, and wasteful expenditure.
Gauteng is experiencing high rates of in migration which impacts on service delivery in the province. The lack of service delivery has led to an increase in service delivery protests in the province.
This also has a negative impact on schools in the province which have ageing infrastructure that’s in dire need of maintenance and there is a severe shortage of schools in the province.
This also further impacts on the health care system in the province as we do not have enough hospitals to deal with the influx of people dependent on the state for health care.
In order to mitigate this, Premier David Makhura announced that 6 new hospitals will be built within ten years and 10 hospitals will be refurbished. However, the mystery is where will this money come from.
This budget should look at ways of stimulating economic growth, while also creating a conducive environment for investors to invest in the economy. In order to effectively address this, there has to be policy certainty and direction for jobs and growth, thus giving the private sector reasons to invest in the province. This will help businesses to create sustainable jobs for the unemployed, particularly the youth and people living with disabilities.
By doing this, we will not have the same situation as in the Office of the Premier, where R6.6 million was squandered on unsustainable job opportunities for the youth.
In addition, the budget needs to prioritise the rollout of the Gauteng Broadband Network, which will prepare our youth for the 4th Industrial Revolution.
The budget should also contain extensive cost containing measures for municipalities considering the deteriorating state of a number of local municipalities across the province, for example, Rand West District, Merafong, Lesedi, Sedibeng, and Emfuleni. The MEC should also outline how these struggling municipalities will be supported to regain their financial stability.
The MEC should commit to ensuring that all departmental Annual Performance Plans, Demand and Procurement plans are finalised before the start of the new financial year otherwise projects will once again be delayed, impacting service delivery and conditional grant spending.
The DA proposes that the MEC implements the following in her budget for the 2020/2021 financial year:
- Tighter fiscal control to ensure that departments spend their allocated budget
- Monitoring and Evaluation of all projects
- Adhering to the 30-day payment process
- Blacklisting of companies that fail to complete projects within the time frame
- Improved access to innovation and ICT
- Restructuring of entities where duplication of function occurs
- Consequence management for officials implicated in corruption and mismanagement of government funds
- Jail time for those found guilty of fraud and corruption
The inability of the provincial government to spend the money allocated to them, thereby causing their funding to be reallocated, is confirmation of poor planning, a lack of political will and the inability to govern.
The MEC should put the interests of the Gauteng residents first and ensure that this budget addresses the needs of the people.