OPPOSITION parties in the Eastern Cape want Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle to prioritise job creation when he delivers his final annual budget in Bhisho today.
The DA has called on Masualle to spell out how the government intends to make the shift “from consumption expenditure towards actual service delivery”.
Masualle said last year there would be a drastic move to reduce overspending on staff salaries by cutting the bloated Bhisho administration, which consumed about 65% of the provincial government’s R59.2-billion budget.
Outlining his expectations for the tabling of today’s 2014-2015 provincial budget speech, DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said if Masualle did not explain how he planned to reduce expenditure on staff salaries, the government was “being reduced to little more than an employment agency which will fail to create the right climate for economic growth”.
“Last year the cost of employees, as a percentage of the equitable share, amounted to 77%. This year our equitable share component will increase by only 3.9% while the cost of employees will rise in excess of 6%.
“This means there will be even less funding for actual service delivery in the new budget,” Stevenson said.
He expected the budget to be in the region of R62-billion.
UDM MPL Max Mhlathi said Masualle should address unemployment in the province.
“We must provide incentives to attract investors and create more jobs. The Eastern Cape is a rural province, so it cannot be compared to Johannesburg, Durban and Cape Town,” Mhlathi said.
In spite of his hopes, Mhlathi expected Masualle to align the budget to “cater for the ANC’s policies for the elections”.
“He will talk about funding for infrastructure and jobs through the [extended public works programmes]. It’s all electioneering as he will try to cover the gaps from all the recent service delivery protests before the elections,” he said.
COPE’s provincial secretary, Mlamli Tsotsi, said while he expected Masualle to continue with the “good story jargon of the president”, he hoped more money would be allocated to the poor.
“He will praise the president [Jacob Zuma] I’m sure and I don’t think he’ll say anything new because the ANC has failed all municipalities throughout the province.
“We hope, though, that he will dedicate more money to the poorest of the poor and improve the lives of the people by job creation and poverty alleviation programmes,” Tsotsi said.
The results will be out today.
– Rochelle de Kock