Gauteng budget protects social sector spending

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Johannesburg - Despite the current economic challenges, the Gauteng Budget for the 2009/10 financial year presents a balance between protecting social sector spending and non social spending.

This is according to the Gauteng MEC for Finance and Economic Development, Mandla Nkomfe who tabled his Budget Vote at the provincial Legislature in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"Despite all the challenges facing the country's economy, the budget does not steer away from the provincial government's commitment to the people of the province of ensuring a better life for all.

"This budget is geared toward expanding the social services that government provides to the most vulnerable sections of society."

He said he had prioritised education, health and social development. "The budget will allocate more than R123 billion over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) for social spending."

This is line with government's commitment to improving the quality of the public education system, provision of responsive health care services and accelerating access to social welfare services.

In term of the allocations, education receives the largest share of the social sector with R18.9 billion, followed by health services at R16.5 billion and the remaining R1.9 billion will be provided to social development to cater for social welfare activities.

An amount of R755 million has been budgeted for the construction and maintenance of schools in various areas in the province. Furthermore, R600 million has been allocated to the department for the implementation of the no-fee school policy for quintile 1 to 3.

A quintile is a national ranking method used by the Department of Education to measure how poor a school is, with quintile one being the poorest of all quintiles.

An amount of R10 billion has been made available over the three years of the MTEF for the construction of housing units in the province to formalize and eradicate informal settlements. Of this amount, a total of R195 million has been set aside for the Alexandra Renewal Project in 2009/10. A further R50 million has been allocated for the 20 Priority Township Programme.

The MEC announced that within the health sector, the provincial government would allocate extra funds towards the transformation of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital, procurement of medical goods and services, treatment of drug-resistant Tuberculosis and salary adjustments.

An amount of R162.5 million has been budgeted for the first two years of the MTEF for the construction of the Natalspruit Hospital.

The budget for province for the 2009/2010 financial year has grown by R7 billion from the 2008/09 financial adjusted appropriation of R48.5 billion to R55.3 billion in 2009/10. It will further grow to a total of R60.7 billion in 2011/2012 and over the MTEF the total growth amounts to R12.2 billion.

"The 2009/2010 MTEF budget is reflective of the five year provincial government priorities for the term of office 2004/2009. It seeks to ensure that we successfully complete our current term of governance and lay a solid foundation for the next term of government," the MEC said.

The combined expenditure for social services is 68 percent in 2009/2010 and will rise to 75 percent in 2011/2012.

The projected revenue for the 2009/2010 financial year is R59.4 billion and this amount consists of an equitable share transfer of R38.9 billion, conditional grants of 13.3 billion, Gautrain proceeds of R4.2 billion form national government and the province's own revenue amounts to R3 billion.

"The total expenditure for the 2009/10 financial year amounts to R55.3 billion, before clearing the expenditure on Gautrain of an amount of R3.8 billion that took place in 2008/09," MEC Nkomfe said.

In the next coming years, provincial government will invest over R40 billion towards infrastructural development, this includes the completion of Gautrain and construction of key nodal routes in the province.