All eyes on Bhisho budget allocations

Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo
Picture: Brian Witbooi

Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo will reveal today how the Eastern Cape government plans to spend its money this year.

Political parties said they expected more money to be pushed toward the health and education departments.

DA MPL Jane Cowley said Somyo would walk a tight rope between the increasing wage bill for civil servants and service delivery.

Cowley said that unless the wage bill was contained within the same parameters, far less would be available for service delivery.

“This is particularly so in light of reduced conditional grants from the national government and an overall provincial budget that has increased by a mere 4.9% when our equitable share is added to conditional grants,” she said.

Delivering the national budget speech last month, former finance minister Malusi Gigaba announced that the budget allocations to all provinces and municipalities would be slashed to be able to fund free higher education.

The Education Infrastructure Grant has been reduced by 5.69%, which will impact heavily on the already slow delivery of schools, while the human settlements grant was reduced by 14.78%, which will also impact very negatively on the need for housing for all Eastern Cape citizens.

Nelson Mandela Bay is sitting with a housing backlog of 85 210, which will also be affected by the slash in the budget in terms of meeting its deadline.

The AIC’s Vuyisile Krakri said he hoped more money would be allocated toward the agriculture sector as this could create a lot of jobs in the province.

“The MEC must show emphasis on farming and also focus on the department of health and education as more staff need to be added on there,” he said.

UDM leader in the Bhisho legislature Max Mhlati said he expected the departments of health and education to get the majority of the provincial budget as both departments relied heavily on “warm bodies” to keep them going.

“Without teachers and doctors, the departments fail to exist. If there’s an increase in the budget, more staff can be hired to curb the many vacancies.”

Mhlati said he hoped there would be an increase in the budget for the expanded public works programme as it was the only avenue for a lot of unemployed people to get jobs.

COPE’s Lievie Sharpley said the budget’s concentration should be with the SAPS as it needed more funding with increased criminal activity.

“You’ll find that ambulances are scared to go to certain communities because they’ll get attacked. If the lights are out at night, Eskom is scared to go out because they’ll be attacked.

“We need satellite police stations in rural areas and to achieve that we need funding,” Sharpley said.

EFF provincial leader Litha Zibula said they were hoping focus would be placed on education and health.

“We have poor infrastructure, teacher shortages, patients are sleeping on floors in hospitals and clinics in the province, and so I hope more money will be added to these departments.”

Zibula said he hoped there would be a jobs plan within the budget as the province had some of the highest numbers of youth unemployment in the country.

Using WhatsApp? Join our WhatsApp community to get your free daily news brief and breaking news alerts on your phone! Simply add HeraldLIVE’s number, +27 66 354 7020, as a contact to your phone. You will not be able to receive our WhatsApp updates unless we’re a contact. Then send us a WhatsApp message with your name, surname and the word NEWS. For more information click here.


Leave a Reply