Durban – While the bulk of the provincial budget in KwaZulu-Natal will go towards education and health, a significant portion will be spent on infrastructure programmes.
The total budget for the 2012/13 financial year is R83 571 460 with 42 and 32 percent of it going into the education and health coffers respectively.
Aligned with President Jacob Zuma’s plans for a massive infrastructure development drive, the province has budgeted over R13 billion for various projects.
During her 2012/13 budget presentation at the Legislature building in Pietermaritzburg on Friday, MEC for Finance, Ina Cronje, said: “This budget addresses both social infrastructure development as well as economic infrastructure. It is a budget that will stimulate economic growth and employment creation in the province.”
There are plans to give people living in rural areas more access to public services – the Department of Transport will spend more than R16 billion over the next three years on infrastructure projects.
Part of the funds will be used for the continued development of the Pietermaritzburg and Ulundi airports. Scheduled flights between the two areas will commence on 21 March.
Upgrades on roads with national importance will also be given priority.
“The department will use labour-intensive construction methods in order to create employment and will continue to give preference to local suppliers of goods and services,” said Cronje.
The Education Department will use its provisions to improve the quality of teachers entering the profession. More learners will have access to schools with government funding close to 4 800 no-fee schools.
“The transformation of health services is paramount in meeting the increasing demands of health care users and to prepare for the implementation of the National Health Insurance,” said Cronje.
With R24 billion at their disposal, the health department will continue to focus on both national and provincial priorities including strengthening the health system’s effectiveness.
Funds will be used by the Economic Development and Tourism Department to scale the impact of The Dube Trade Port, visited by Zuma on Thursday.
“The budget provides for a transfer to the Dube Trade Port for further development of the airside and landside service provision and expanding air to road tracking operations to Johannesburg, Cape Town and Port Elizabeth,” said Cronje.
Meanwhile, the financial state of the KwaZulu-Natal Government is quite encouraging – it finds itself in a cash positive position since December 2011.
With no overdraft to pay, the province had R3.6 billion in cash in the bank at the end of last year.
The province has a contingency reserve this financial year – which according to Cronje has become a norm over the recent years.
Cronje warned, however, that the reserve will not be used to bail-out poor budget management in departments.
Source: BuaNews – 9 March 2012