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ANC in Bhisho welcomes MEC Sakhumzi Somyo's 2017 Budget Speech

MARCH 3, 2017
ANC in Bhisho welcomes MEC Sakhumzi Somyo's 2017 Budget Speech

The African National Congress (ANC) Caucus in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature on Friday said that it welcomes the 2017 Eastern Cape Provincial Budget Speech presented to the Legislature on Thursday by Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Sakhumzi Somyo.

"The Caucus is of the view that in line with the State of the Province Address and the national budget, the provincial budget truly embodies the developmental trajectory that the ANC envisions for the province, despite the reality of a subdued economic climate," said ANC Chief Whip in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature, Honourable Mzoleli Mrara.

"The ANC Caucus is delighted to note the budget’s lenience towards the ANC’s focus on radical economic transformation, which envisions an effective state that is decisive in its pursuit of structural change – thereby wielding opportunities to the poor and vulnerable to have ownership and control the economy. In this regard, we appreciate the enhanced focus on the six economic sectors which can be used to unlock the economic potential of the province."

Mrara said that it is pleasant to note that the budget is anchored on the priority areas of the ANC, with focus on Education and Health as the major drivers of transforming the social services sector – this perspective is highly supported.

"Given the provincial performance in the 2016 Matric Examinations which is peddled by the fact that the poorest performing districts are found in the eastern part of the province, the prioritisation of Educator Post Provisioning Norms, Learner Teacher Support Material, School Nutrition Programme, Scholar Transport Programme and School Infrastructure is most pleasing to note," he described.

"With the persistent concerns raised over issues such as long queues and challenges with staff contingents in our public healthcare facilities, the Caucus welcomes the allocation of R10.479 Billion towards practitioners. A further encouraging commitment is that of funds that will go towards upgrading of healthcare facilities.

"Given that the Eastern Cape is a largely rural province, a focus on the agriculture sector can be expected to yield positive economic growth," he added.

"The implementation of the Agricultural Economic Transformation Strategy and strategies to augment food security should be enacted in earnest, as there are fields to be ploughed, livestock to be herded, and fruits and vegetables to be picked. These initiatives are sure to allow the poorest of the poor a fighting chance against the vicious cycle of poverty."

Mrara said that the allocation towards roads infrastructure comes as a relief, as many of our people, especially in informal settlements and the rural areas, are often disadvantaged by the bad condition of roads or the absence of access roads in their areas.

"This becomes a barrier to accessing amenities and services, and it is the poor who bear the brunt.

"Given the decline in the equitable share provision from the National Fiscus, the Caucus appreciates the initiative taken by Provincial Treasury to implement a budget strategy that focuses on fiscal sustainability, austere implementation of cost-containment measures, limiting of the Provincial Wage Bill, increase in the Provincial Own Revenue Generation, and rationalisation of public entities," he described.

"In this regard, it is refreshing to note that a total savings of R723.4 Million was made through the rigorous implementation of cost containment measures throughout government, and the province has managed to collect a total of R1.220 Billion in revenue.

"Provincial Government is encouraged to closely monitor the rebalancing of the Provincial Wage Bill to ensure that expenditure on Compensation of Employees does not outweigh expenditure on core Government service delivery."

Mrara further said that the Caucus embraces the noble allocation of 89,1% (or R60.9 Billion) of the total budget towards the social needs sector.

"This is telling of the cognizance taken on the statements made in the National Budget Speech – which highlighted the importance of upholding the commitment to address social rights. This can in turn be used as a barometer with which we can measure the efforts of our ANC-led government towards realising the vision of a better life for all," he described.

"The ANC Caucus supports the budget allocation towards Government Programmes aimed at celebrating the O R Tambo Centenary, which is in line with the pronouncement made by the President in his State of the Nation Address.

"This commitment is fully supported as the contributions made by our struggle heroes must be etched in our minds, and in the memories of future generations."