Free State’s Finance MEC, Elzabe Rockman made several announcements on Tuesday in Gariep at the tabling of the province’s budget for the 2017/2018 year.
One announcement she made was that two of the Free State’s biggest departments, being Education and Health, are staying under the care of the provincial treasury, even though both departments have been under administration for over a year now.
Rockman stated that she allocated 74% of her provincial budget to the social and administration cluster, which consists of both departments as well as the social development and the sports, arts, and recreation departments.
Rockman also revealed that the education department received R12.7 billion rand, while the health department got R9.7 billion.
She says the department of health’s situation will be reviewed within the next three to six months and once the department of health’s situation is resolved, then the focus can be shifted to the department of education.
Moving onto other matters, Rockman also revealed that she allocated more than R687m for the current financial year to the department of sport, arts, and culture and that despite tight containment measures in the provincial government, the Mangaung Arts and Culture festival (Macufe) will continue.
Rockman says that some of the key priorities for the department include the 20-year celebration of Macufe. This is despite calls from opposition parties to overhaul the festival. Rockman says a feasibility study conducted by her department revealed that investment in the province during the festival is worth millions more than its allocation in the provincial department of sports, art, and culture.
And finally, Rockman has announced that she will take drastic steps to ensure that there is transformation in public institutions in the province.
During her speech in the State Legislature, in Gariep, she said her department decided to merge the Free State Tourism Authority and the provincial Gaming and Liquor Board, following a review of all the public institutions in the province.
She says this move will ensure that functions in both institutions are streamlined and that costs are saved.
Cathy Dlodlo- BloemfonteinCourant