Free Staters can have their say on drought relief


Free State residents can now have their say about the multimillion rand drought grant for farmers who are feeling the pinch with one of the most devastating droughts rocking the country.
Chairperson of the Standing Committee for Public Accounts and Finance in the Free State Legislature, Neels van Rooyen, said taking the legislature to the people is one of the main responsibilities of the legislature. He said residents can now attend the public hearings that are going to take place across the province to give their inputs on the amendment of the Division of Revenue Bill.
“Everybody knows that we pay taxes and all that money goes into a national pool. The Division of Revenue Bill then contains the distribution of the money to all spheres of government – national, provincial and local,” he explained. Van Rooyen said this bill is tabled and voted on at the beginning of a financial year. It sets out the budget for the province and includes an equitable share – the calculation being based on a formula – and conditional grants. “The Free State got a total provincial budget of R29 billion in terms of this bill.”
Van Rooyen added several conditional grants and the equitable shares for municipalities are also contained in the bill. The legislature is, however, taking an amendment of this bill back to residents. He said the amendment includes an allocation of R31 million for drought relief. “There are also other smaller allocations to municipalities for the bucket eradication programme,” he explained.
Representatives of National Treasury are going to brief the Public Accounts and Finance Committee on these allocations and members of the public can give their inputs on the allocation during the public hearings. “The province needs to give feedback on the additional allocations, which would then be recorded by the province’s representative(s) in the National Council of Provinces,” Van Rooyen said. – Cathy Dlodlo