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WC Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC blames National Government for forcing Province to make do

WC Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC blames National Government for forcing Province to make do

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Cape Town – Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC Mireille Wenger has blamed the national government’s high-levels of debt, bailouts to failed state-owned enterprises and state capture for forcing the Province to “do more with less.”

Wenger, who read the medium-term budget policy statement (MTBPS) in the legislature yesterday, said these factors, which affect provincial budgets in particular, meant that the country as a whole had less money to spend at precisely the time when the demand was greatest.

She said the ongoing budget crunch meant that the Western Cape was faced with tough choices and difficult trade-offs and that the legislature would have to have a “frank conversation” about these trends,

In the budget it emerged that the departments of Health and Education would receive the lion’s share of the Province’s budget, with a combined allocation of R168.7 billion, or 73.1% of the total budget as the provincial government seeks to expand critical infrastructure.

Wenger allocated an additional R200 million over the medium-term expenditure framework (MTEF) to continue the law enforcement advancement programme.

She said this would ensure “that boots on the ground in crime hot spots continue to save lives.”

Calling her budget “a framework of hope,” Wenger announced a growthfor-jobs strategy, funding for an additional 170 social workers across the province and also announced that R25 million had been allocated in the short-term to fund food relief initiatives.

Praising the budget, DA provincial Budget spokesperson Deidré Baartman said: “While the Province received no additional provincial equitable share allocation from the national government, except to make provision for public service wage increases, this MTBPS reaffirms the Province’s commitment to jobs, safety and well-being for our citizens.”

However, the opposition was having none of it. The ANC’s Nomi Nkondlo said: “We are almost at the tail-end of the term of this administration and the MEC announces a Growth for Jobs Strategy to be finalised in this financial year.”

She said the announcement made her wonder what had happened to Premier Alan Winde’s promise of job creation made in his maiden State of the Province Address.

Nkondlo however welcomed the increase of the infrastructure allocation but said the ANC remained concerned about the underspending of over R40m in the previous financial year.

“Furthermore, we want to see more projects to rebuild capital infrastructure in poor communities, and maintenance of old public buildings and other facilities that are debilitating to enable local economic growth.”

GOOD Party MPL Shaun August said the budget had failed to effectively highlight a clear path of development and growth within the province.

“As is synonymous with DA-governance practically everywhere, when the going gets tough, it is much easier to point a finger at the incompetency of the national government, but there exists no clear plan on how to sweep in front of our own door first.”

mwangi.githahu@inl.co.za

Cape Argus

Original Article

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