Skills needed for delivery

Thozi Manyisana

Thozi Manyisana

The Eastern Cape is failing to fully utilise its budget and fulfil its constitutional mandates, Finance MEC Billy Nel said on Friday.

Speaking before his 2007-08 budget speech at the Eastern Cape legislature in Bhisho, Nel said the province faced a lack of "basic skills" such as planning and "we need to improve [that]".

Nel said though financial management was "stable", there was still room to improve its stability.

"We need to streamline personnel in terms of skills in order to get value for money," said Nel after announcing that 60percent of the R31billion budget would go towards personnel.

"The financial performance from the expenditure perspective is very discouraging," he said, estimating that about R3billion of the 2006-07 budget of R27billion would be underspent.

The head of the finance department, Newman Kusi, said the province faced a "critical shortage of skills" and that from April 1 a shared services unit to help all departments with required skills would be set up.

Kusi said "weaknesses" detected by various portfolio committees included financial control and general management.

Among Nel's concerns were fraud and corruption, which he said "comes from all directions and in any form".

Nel vowed that the provincial government would guard against fraud and corruption, though he did not say how much was budgeted to fight it or how much money the province was losing because of it.

He said BEE companies would be checked to see if they were not "fronting" for big companies and their background would be scrutinised to ensure they worked efficiently.

Nel opened his speech with a promise that the province would expand economic opportunities to the poor by stimulating overall economic growth.

He said that the poor should be empowered by "making our departments and other state institutions more accountable and responsive to their needs".

The security of the poor should be enhanced by reducing their vulnerability to ill health, economic shocks, policy-induced dislocations and natural disasters.