FS budget speech to answer critical questions

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Expectations are high that the Free State Finance MEC’s mid-term budget speech will answer critical questions.

This, as opposition parties in the Provincial Legislature say questions regarding cost containment measures and consequence management, amongst other things, remain unanswered. Speaking ahead of the speech to be delivered on Tuesday (tomorrow), the DA’s spokesperson on Public Accounts and Finance, David van Vuuren, told OFM News that the two biggest departments – Education and Health – are technically bankrupt. They would like to see more funds being allocated to these. He says these departments are in a crisis and have the highest number of employees in the province. Van Vuuren adds that Rockman must outline what cost containment measures she is going to put in place to ensure that these departments are well funded.

During the tabling of the annual budget earlier in March, Rockman allocated more than R13.5 billion to the Department of Education and more than R10.4 billion to the Department of Health.

Van Vuuren, however, adds that these departments are not spending their budgets wisely despite being the two departments that continue to receive the biggest slices of the provincial budget cake.

Following concerns that have been raised by the Auditor-General (AG) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on the state of these departments, the DA and the Freedom Front Plus have highlighted that wasteful and irregular expenditure in these departments, as well as a lack of accountability, cause concerns which the Finance MEC needs to address.

The financial woes of the Health Department recently came to light during an oversight visit by the NCOP when they highlighted that this department battles to meet the basic needs of the people because of its costly litigation cases and continuous use of private ambulances. The council revealed that the department had racked up over R500 million in medical claims and paid out R21.5 million in the last seven months.

KATLEHO MORAPELA / OFM News