The Eastern Cape budget, passed in the Provincial Legislature last night, makes provision to spend more money on Subsistence and Travel for employees, than on medical supplies for the entire province.
In the 2019/20 financial year, the administration proposes purchasing medical supplies to the tune of R724,844 million. The same administration proposes spending R794,168 million on Subsistence and Travel for the financial year.
It is morally wrong that this budget proposes to spend more money on something as frivolous as travel and subsistence, than on much needed medical supplies that could be the difference between life and death for our people.
This is just one example of why the DA opposed the budget yesterday.
The rampant cost of employment is also seriously affecting the province’s ability to deliver services and build new infrastructure.
The proposed wage bill for the financial year 2019/20 is R54,1-billion, which equates to 65.7% of the total budget, and is an increase of R2,9-billion compared to the previous financial year. This is 5.7% above the targeted cost of employment, and is, by far, the single biggest cost driver in the province.
If employment costs were kept at 60%, R4,9-billion would have been freed up for service delivery projects in the Eastern Cape.
The Western Cape’s cost of employment is 54.85% of total budget. If the Eastern Cape were at Western Cape levels, an additional R9-billion would be available.
This is why the Western Cape has one of the fastest growing economy’s in the country, they have managed to achieve a sustainable balance between their wage bill and the need for new infrastructure and goods and services.
The budget also failed to deal with accruals, such as those in the Departments of Health and Education.
In the Health Department, accruals are now close to 10% of their total budget. If you add the accruals to the cost of employment of the Department, which is at 67%, you have a mere 23% left for actual service delivery.
Is it any wonder why we are running short of medical supplies in some of our health care facilities?
The DA also recommended vigorous cost cutting measures, which would have freed up at least R1,5-billion, which the ANC refused to consider.
There is no decisive direction or will to deal with historic problems. No will to stop the continued wastage of public money. No will to deal with the rampant cost of employment. No will to fix the province.
We urgently need to change direction so we can chart a new course for this province. A course that will save us from poverty and joblessness in the Eastern Cape.
Sadly, the budget that was passed by the Legislature yesterday will not help us achieve this.
Retief Odendaal MPL
DA EC Shadow MEC for Finance
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