Pro-jobs, pro-growth budget for Western Cape

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Cape Town – Western Cape Finance MEC Ivan Meyer has tabled what he called a “pro-poor, pro-growth and pro-job creation” budget in the provincial legislature on Tuesday.

Explaining to citizens how the province planned to deploy its financial resources, MEC Meyer said the bulk of the money would be used for health and education, with the former receiving R21.6 billion or 36.5% of the province’s R59 billon while the latter receives R20.6 billion (34.8%).

According to MEC Meyer, economic growth and jobs remain the province’s number one priority and the only way to fight poverty and ensure social stability.

He stressed that the provincial budget was a “budget for growth; a budget for the people and a budget for prosperity”.

MEC Meyer highlighted a number of challenges facing the province this year, including drought and water shortages, fires and food security.

A total of R7 billion will go to investments in infrastructure during this year and R2.2 billion will be spent to alleviate poverty through comprehensive social development services for youth, children, women and persons with disability.

“A new Early Childhood Development grant will also benefit children in pre-school centres. Special focus will be on the youth and skills development initiatives for the youth,” MEC Meyer said.

The Department of Transport and Public Works has been allocated R7.4 billion (12%) of the budget pie while Human Settlements has given R2.5 billion (4.3%); Social Development R2.1 billion (3.6%); Community Safety will get R302 million (0.5%) and Cultural Affairs and Sport R725 million (1.2%).

The rest of the budget has been divided into:

  • Economic Development and Tourism R427 million;
  • Agriculture R795 million;
  • Environmental Affairs and Development Planning R591 million; and
  • Local Government R249 million.

The Department of the Premier will get R1.4 billion, while the Provincial Parliament will receive R137 million and Provincial Treasury R308 million.

Drought gripping the province

Turning to the devastating drought gripping the province, MEC Meyer said: “We are still in the middle of a serious drought which is impacting on both the rural and urban parts of the Province”.

As a result, the MEC said the province is now facing an increasing food security risk.

He added that water has been identified as a top priority and an enabler for sustainable growth and development in the province.

“Water security has, however, also been identified as a key risk. For this reason, various initiatives related to water security will be conducted by a number of departments.”

MEC Meyer told the house that just over R84 million over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) has been allocated to the departments of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning, Agriculture and Local Government for the development and implementation of an integrated sustainable water security strategy.

The Finance MEC stressed that the country’s public sector wage bill has now reached unsustainable levels and is currently crowding out other much needed expenditure programmes aimed at the poor.

According to the MEC, there is a silver lining after a bleak economic performance in 2016, with the country’s economic growth now forecast to accelerate to 1 percent in 2017.

“The economic growth of the Western Cape is expected to accelerate to 1.3 percent in 2017 and by 2 percent 2018, mainly driven by faster-than-expected growth in the finance, insurance, real estate and business services sector,” he added. – SAnews.gov.za-TLM

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