Free State government departments have been tabling their budgets for vote during Legislature sittings held across the province this month. Last week was the chance of, among others, the Premier; the Department of Public Works and the Free State Legislature. Premier Ace Magashule delivered his budget speech during a sitting at Vredefort, while the Free State legislature and Public Works department laid out their budgets in Allanridge outside Welkom on Friday. The Legislature will sit in Ventersburg, Marquard and Clocolan this week, in line with the concept incorporating communities in the workings of government.
Here are some highlights from last week:
Office of the Premier
In tabling the R276 956-million budget allocated to his department at Vredefort, Magashule said, “Once again we would like to acknowledge the decision by this august house for allowing us to take this Budget Vote debate to the people, especially rural communities such as Vredefort and others.” Magashule has split his budget over three main programmes, namely: administration relating to executive support; guidance and coordination of provincial departments in transverse corporate support functions; and policy and governance. His office is responsible for oversight over the different departments, as well as promoting good governance. In conclusion, Magashule said: “The Department will therefore, during the 2013/14 financial year, accelerate and intensify its role in directing and coordinating planned activities of all stakeholders to ensure maximum alignment with the Free State Vision 2030.”
Free State Legislature
The Free State Legislature is one of only three departments in the province to have received a clean audit.
Acting speaker, Ouma Tsopo, said the current economic climate has impacted availability of resources on all sectors of society and requires both individuals and collectives to exercise greater responsibility in the use of financial and other resources. Legislature only receives 0,64 percent of the provincial budget and she said “this should be the subject of further consideration and debate.”
Tsopo emphasised the importance of taking parliament to the people, enhancing public education and facilitating public participation. She said everyone should ask if enough is being done to realise the Legislature’s vision of a “people-centred legislature that champions democracy.” Aside from ensuring the smooth operation of the Legislature and oversight of the Executive Committee, Tsopo’s department will also focus on initiatives such as the Youth Parliament, Women’s Parliament, Children’s Parliament, Sector Parliament and other such initiatives. Other budget allocations include procedural services such as the Hansard Directorate, Table Services, Legislation and Oversight and the Office of the Legal Advisor. She also announced that the responsibility for construction of a new legislature building rests with the Department of Public Works. “We trust that sufficient funds will be provided to ensure the Department of Public Works is able to complete legislature projects within an acceptable timeframe,” she said.
The Department of Public Works will spend the bulk of its more than R1,4-billion budget on property management. MEC Sisi Mabe says property management includes ongoing and new infrastructure projects, maintenance of existing property infrastructure, municipal rates and taxes payable by the department and so forth. During the budget vote debate, one of the issues highlighted is that the department will have a shortfall of well over R100-million in municipal taxes. Public Works HOD, Maditse Seoke, later confirmed this but said it was anticipated and discussed with the national Public Works department. “An amount will be allocated to provinces that have declared a shortfall.”
Mabe meanwhile announced that two major projects will be completed this year, which she termed the “Pride of the Department of Public Works and the Free State Government.” She said the Mantsopa Hospital will be completed in March, while the Alfred Nzula Hospital in Trompsburg is expected to be finished by September.
She also announced her department had exceeded its target of creating 36,533 work opportunities through the Expanded Public Works Programme last year. “As of today, we managed to create 43,565 work opportunities…”