MEC Somyo's 2015 Budget Speech must outline bold steps towards job creation and economic growth: DA

MARCH 5, 2015

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape says Eastern Cape MEC for Finance and Provincial Expenditure, Sakhumzi Somyo, must outline how the provincial government will put this province on a path to prosperity during his 2015 Budget Speech.

MEC Somyo is expected to table his budget for this year on Friday at the Provincial Legislature in Bhisho.

“The Eastern Cape MEC for Finance and Provincial Expenditure, Sakhumzi Somyo, must announce concrete steps to put this province on the high road to honest, efficient and caring government when he introduces the provincial budget on Friday in Bhisho,” Bobby Stevenson, Deputy Provincial Leader of the DA in the Eastern Cape, said in a statement on a local blog.

“The Democratic Alliance expects bold pronouncements to clamp down on corruption and stringent austerity measures to reign in our high expenditure on non-core items such as travel, accommodation and endless workshops.”

He also said that the MEC should also look at cutting down the number of employees working for the provincial government.

“Unless the MEC tackles the issue of our bloated bureaucracy which consumes 65% of the budget, our province will continue to go backwards as far as service delivery is concerned. Any increase in civil servant’s salaries beyond inflation poses a grave risk to the province’s financial position,” Stevenson said.

“It is not fair for taxpayers to pay more and more and get less and less in return.

“This is making people angry with the Bhisho government, as they feel betrayed by on-going wastage and corruption. This is particularly so at local government level, where stringent provincial oversight is necessary.”

Budget predictions and expectations

Stevenson said that the budget will be introduced in the context of a slow-growth economy which has resulted in below- inflation increases in our conditional grants and equitable share.

“For the 2015/16 year the equitable share of R54, 312 billion amounts to an increase of R2, 158 billion or a mere 4%. Conditional grants go up from R9, 846 billion to R10, 060 billion, which is a mere 2%. These figures are well below inflation (gazetted in the Division of Revenue Bill). These figures, together with own revenue, should result in a budget in the region of R66 billion,” he said.

“It is expected that 75% of the budget will go to education and health. Our schools and hospitals are crying out for well-spent improvements.

“We are hoping that tourism funding will be improved so it can become more of a game changer for economic growth. We will also be watching closely to see if funding improves for scholar transport and roads. Our learners and rural community cannot be left in the lurch.”

He also challenged the MEC to make the right policy choices that will improve the climate for economic growth and job creation in this province.

“A job is more than a salary – it provides dignity and opportunity for people to get ahead in life. The people of this province deserve a budget that creates the hope that tomorrow can be better than yesterday,” Stevenson said.