Budget shaped to what locals want

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Two widely criticised departments in KwaZulu-Natal were the major beneficiaries in this year's provincial budget.

The budget was tabled yesterday by Zweli Mkhize, MEC for finance and economic development.

Mkhize said during the unveiling of his whopping R43billion budget that the provincial departments of Health and Education would receive a bigger slice from his department, each receiving R2billion more than last year.

The Health Department will receive more than R13billion and education has been allocated more than R18billion.

The Department of Health was in the news a few weeks ago when nurses embarked on a strike, which resulted in more than 400 of them losing their jobs, while education was roundly criticised for poor matric results.

"I believe the increases will go a long way to ensuring these departments are able to curb the problems they encounter," he said.

"The strike by nurses raised eyebrows and it was a major concern to everyone."

Mkhize said this year's budget was the most exciting since he took office in 2004.

"I have never been so excited about a budget before. This is simply because I can say with pride that this is a budget for the people by the people.

"During our road shows, we listened to the suggestions from ordinary citizens and they helped us shape the budget according to their needs and wants," he said.

Mkhize said small businesses and co-operatives had played, and would continue to play, major roles in the economy.

"Three years ago, the co-ops were relatively unknown, but today everyone speaks about them with a clear understanding and this has increased the economy of the province dramatically.

"It is exciting to hear people from rural areas talking like business people," he said.

He said the province was being driven by the vision and commitment to work harder.

"Latest statistics show that 29percent of the economically active population is unemployed. Though this is less than the 35percent it was in 1996, we need to decrease the numbers more."