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By Political Staff | Oct 28, 2009 | COMMENTS [ 0 ]

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan's revelation that the newly established ministries would cost just under R600 million this year has created a political furore.

Presenting his medium-term Budget policy statement yesterday, Gordhan revealed that R589,1million would be spent on establishing new departments and the appointment of new ministers and deputy ministers.

Zuma added eight more ministries to former president Thabo Mbeki's previous cabinet.

DA leader Helen Zille yesterday said the appointment of the new ministers was not in the interest of service delivery but aimed at dealing with ANC's internal divisions.

Zille said the quoted figure for the new ministries was an indication that the whole cabinet could cost taxpayers "at least a billion, if not more".

"President Zuma had to expand his cabinet to 62 members - including deputies - to balance all the warring factions and interest groups in the ANC. Dealing with the ANC's internal problems is, once again, costing taxpayers hundreds of millions of rand," Zille said.

IFP MP Koos van der Merwe said there had been no indication that the expanded cabinet would improve service delivery.

"With at least two service delivery protests each week this year, there is abundant proof that the expansion of the cabinet has not improved the pace of service delivery," he said.

Cope spokesperson Nick Koornhof said Zuma's expanded cabinet was costing taxpayers "too much".

"We think half a billion rands is too much. If one can get the necessary output from these departments, it would be nice but we maintain it is unacceptable.

"We have the second biggest cabinet in the world after Pakistan."

However, Cosatu spokesperson Patrick Craven said the federation was confident the new departments would justify the money spent on their establishment.

"Cosatu fully supports the new departments and we are confident they will justify the money spent on them by improving the efficiency of government and meeting the (election) manifesto commitments."

United Democratic Movement leader Bantu Holomisa described the figure as "moderate".

Presenting his MTBPS, Gordhan revealed that funds were needed to provide offices and housing for the new ministers and deputy ministers.

Ebrahim Patel's Economic Development Department will get R29million to cover its operational expenditure and employees' salaries.

Other additional costs include R4,3million for the Department of Tourism to foot its salary bill and the running of the office of the deputy minister; and R8million for the Department of Higher Education and Training headed by Blade Nzimande.

The money will be used to cover the operational costs of the new ministry.

The Department of Mineral Resources will get R10million more than planned to cover similar expenses.

The departments of Human Settlements, Transport, Water Affairs, and Public Service and Administration will each get an additional R3million to pay for the offices of their deputy ministers.

The MTBPS is an adjustment to the three-year budget that the Ministry of Finance makes before introducing the next budget.

In this instance, the government had to make the adjustment to cover for the new ministries added to the previous government.


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