FS budget: No room to manoeuvre

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Christopher Motabogi

Predictions by economists following the 2011 Census results that poor provinces like the Free State (FS), may have to generate their own additional income may be coming to pass. FS Finance MEC, Seiso Mohai, delivered his R26,87 billion budget in Bloemfontein last week, which saw the Education Department receiving R10-45 billion; a 38,9 percent chunk of the total purse.

And the MEC was clear that more creative ways need to be found to halt the high rate of unemployment in the province. "A key problem is that the structure of the FS economy is limiting to the creation of employment. Whereas 30 years ago the primary sector constituted 50% of the provincial economic output, today it makes up only 13 percent," says Mohai. The MEC also announced that his treasury department had been mandated to continue to facilitate further reprioritization of the budget to improve efficiency and better use of public resources."

"These include amongst others the introduction of strict conditions for spending the earmarked funds for which specific conditions must be met prior to incurring any expenditure."  This, says Democractic Alliance Finance spokesperson Peter Frewen, is the correct approach to curb wastage of public funded state money.

"There’s very little one can do to change the budget and allocate more here and less there. What really needs to be done, as the National Minister of Finance keeps on saying, is that ‘we need to get more bank for our buck’ and in the Free State we’re unfortunately not getting that," says Frewen.  Meanwhile, FS Treasury’s senior executive manager for sustainable resource management, Itumeleng Moses, announced that about R20-million would go towards refurbishing factories in the Thaba Nchu and Qwaqwa-areas.