6 March 2017
The Democratic Alliance is disappointed in the provincial budget tabled by the MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism. We need a budget that inspires economic growth and creates an environment for sustained job creation in the Northern Cape, but instead we heard a repackaging of some trendy political catchphrases and ominous silences or contradictions on crucial matters.
While the MEC talks about the need to reduce spending on consultants, his own department recently advertised for consultants to perform the duties imposed on officials by the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act. What the MEC presented is clearly not in accordance with what his own department is doing. Is the ongoing outsourcing of government functions to consultants this government’s idea of sustainable job creation?
When asked about this glaring contradiction in the briefing on the budget, it was averred that the consultants would assist municipalities. This is no answer at all. Firstly, the function of Municipal Finance has been shifted from the department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements & Traditional Affairs to the provincial Treasury specifically on the basis that the treasury has the necessary expertise, skills and knowledge to assist municipalities on financial matters. All along, the MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism has bragged with the quality of his officials. How did it suddenly happen that Treasury, which positioned itself as being ideally equipped to assist municipalities, lacks the expertise to do so? Furthermore, it has been indicated in previous engagements with the Portfolio Committee on Finance, Economic Development & Tourism that municipalities do not want assistance from consultants appointed by the provincial government.
Absolutely no measure was announced that will address unemployment. With an expanded unemployment rate of 43%, our first priority must be to enable job creation. We have an unemployment crisis, which contributes to poverty and inequality, which cannot be solved by piecemeal EPWP opportunities which only benefit loyal ANC cadres.
Assistance to municipalities is mentioned in every budget speech, but no tangible results are delivered. Service delivery to communities grind to a halt because of financial mismanagement at municipal level and the ANC-led provincial government cannot offer any real solutions.
Like his premier, the MEC could give no assurance on allocations for the continued construction of the mental health hospital and could provide no clarity on when this facility will finally be operational. This project has become a monument of mismanagement and does not give the assurance that public funds are in good hands.
No feedback or progress was reported on the rationalization of provincial public entities, the successes of proposed cost containment measures or the consequences for failure to adhere to financial laws. The Auditor-General’s report shows that irregular expenditure is escalating, but officials are allowed to break the law with impunity.
The MEC has shown that he is all talk and the provincial government is no action when it comes to economic matters.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
082 302 2117 / 079 874 6179
071 251 5558