The Northern Cape budget for 2016 shows that MEC for Finance has stayed within the boundaries set by the National Treasury. Now the provincial government must act on what has been announced.
We must see the actual implementation of plans to contain costs, curb corruption and create an economic environment that is conducive for the creation of jobs. It is not enough for the budget speech to hit the right notes if the provincial departments do not sing the same song. We are specifically satisfied to note the strong emphasis on the fight against corruption.
We are already concerned, however, about the willingness of the provincial government to ensure the implementation of the MEC’s announcements. The Estimates of Provincial Expenditure for 2015/16, which is attached to the budget, shows on page 25 that the provincial government intends to increase the amount of employees in provincial government going forward. The costs associated with the compensation of employees is also set to increase.
This contradiction could not be explained by representatives from the Treasury in the briefing which followed the tabling of the budget. How can it be that the MEC announces a moratorium on filling posts when the provincial government plans to increase the amount of government employees? Where is the evidence that the provincial government is going to take the implementation of this budget seriously?
We have to balance the need to reduce spending with the requirement to deliver services. Any moratorium on filling funded and vacant posts should be managed carefully to ensure that enough staff remains available at the frontline of service delivery. The process of requesting permission to fill a post must not be open to abuse.
Government spending must prioritise job creation, economic growth and service delivery.
We therefore welcome the proposed rationalization of public entities where it eliminates an unnecessary duplication of functions. A smaller, streamlined public sector is key to controlling spending and promoting efficiency. We will scrutinize the annual performance plans from departments closely to ensure that merging or closing entities will, in fact, result in savings which can be redirected towards service delivery.
We appreciate that the MEC for Finance has repeated the DA’s call to hold accounting officers responsible for financial mismanagement. Good governance requires consequences for non-compliance. As a starting point, officials must be brought to task for failing to pay suppliers within thirty days. Failure to pay suppliers makes it difficult for suppliers to keep their doors open and it undermines any strides made in the development of SMMEs.
Whether the announcements made in the budget speech will succeed in delivering economic opportunities depends on the commitment shown by the provincial government.
Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL
DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs
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076 551 0312