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MEC Sakhumzi Somyo expected to table a R74 billion provincial budget for 2017

Mar 2, 2017
MEC Sakhumzi Somyo expected to table a R74 billion provincial budget for 2017

There are high expectations ahead of Eastern Cape MEC for Finance, Sakhumzi Somyo's, 2017 Provincial Budget Speech, which he will table on Thursday at the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature in Bhisho.

On Wednesday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape said that it estimates that MEC Somyo will introduce a provincial budget for 2017/18 in the region of R61.8-billion in equitable share, R11.3-billion in conditional grants and R1.4-billion in own revenue giving a total of R74.5-billion.

"MEC Somyo must do two things with this budget: boost economic growth and ensure greater value for money expenditure. Cut waste and boost growth and shift resources from non-core towards core-expenditure. We need to get rid of the nice-to-haves and replace them with the must-haves," said Bobby Stevenson (MPL), the DA's Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Finance.

"To achieve this, the DA proposes that there should be a comprehensive expenditure review. The country and the province is now operating in an extremely tight fiscal space. The MEC needs to spell out in no uncertain terms how we can extract greater value from our existing resources."

The DA believes there needs to be a comprehensive expenditure review taking into account every single line item in each department’s budget.

"This should also extend to every municipality. In Nelson Mandela Bay, the DA-led government went through 23 000 line items and managed to come up with savings of close to R200 million. Imagine what the rest of the province could achieve," said Stevenson.

"The MEC needs to make clear how he is going to cut unnecessary expenditure and eliminate waste. We want to see the shift away from non-core expenditure to core-expenditure.

"This includes reducing the cost of our bloated bureaucracy -- which eats up 65% of our budget -- and cutting back on expenditure on accommodation, travel, conferencing and entertainment. Last year our province was the biggest spender on travel and accommodation, coming in at R760-million."

Stevenson said that education has a bloated bureaucracy: there needs to be a move away from non-core expenditure towards the core business of the department – fewer administrators, more teachers and more resources spent on schools.

"The DA will also be looking for how the budget is going to boost economic growth, the impact on our youth and particularly how Wi-Fi is going to be rolled out in this province as this is an economic game-changer. Under a DA-government the Eastern Cape will be a province of rising opportunity for all."

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) in the Eastern Cape said that the budget should focus on people living in rural areas. The party said that it is expecting a budget that will uplift the lives of the people, those who are staying in rural areas and address the Eastern Cape has high rate of unemployment.

Meanwhile the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)  in the Eastern Cape wants more money to be invested in education.