All eyes in the Free State will this afternoon be on the MEC for Finance, Gadija Brown, when she delivers the province’s 2021/22 budget.
OFM News reports that the much-anticipated budget speech set to be delivered at the Gariep Dam is expected to address questions about ailing municipalities such as the troubled Mangaung Metro Municipality and various government departments. Following the State of the Province Address (SOPA) delivered by Premier Sisi Ntombela last week, Brown will amongst others be expected to reveal her plans to recover the ailing economy of the province.
As the country continues to battle the Covid-19 pandemic, Brown will also be under pressure to outline how the province will curb the high unemployment rates, particularly amongst the youth. Concerns over Covid-19 corruption and irregular expenditure are amongst issues plaguing the province that she will be expected to address.
OFM News earlier this month reported that the Special Investigating Unit (SIU) released investigative reports into Covid-19 PPE tenders, indicating that a total of 11 fraud and corruption allegations relating to the PPE tenders are currently under investigation in the Free State. The SIU Head, Andy Mothibi, confirmed several investigations involving officials from the Free State Treasury are underway, and have so far made a referral to the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) over one Senior Manager within the Provincial Treasury.
Brown will, amongst others, be expected to outline a concrete plan on how she plans to curb corruption in her own department and across the province.
The budget speech is set to kick off at 14:00.