R46BN for gauteng

Zweli Mokgata

Zweli Mokgata

The Gauteng government will be pumping more than 70percent of its R46,6billion budget into social spending in an effort to deal with the needs of the ever-increasing population of the province.

The biggest benefactor is the education department, which received 35percent or R16,63billion for the current budget year.

The health department received the second-biggest slice, R13,89billion (29,3percent), which encompassed provisions for possible future power outages.

Public transport, roads and works received the third largest allocation of R7,61billion (16percent).

Paul Mashatile, Gauteng finance and economic affairs MEC, said: "Infrastructure investment is an important ingredient of our ongoing effort of economic growth and job creation.

"However, education and skills development are major problems we are facing," he said.

"We won't be able to handle our infrastructure development plans without the critical skills to execute them."

Of the R47billion revenue for Gauteng this year, R44,2billion came from the National Treasury, and R2,9billion from the province's own revenue in the form of hospital patient fees, gambling taxes, vehicle licences and other sources.

The province has also set aside R31,5billion over the next three years to fund infrastructure projects.

This amount includes the development of roads, clinics, housing, schools and the maintenance and rehabilitation of existing infrastructure.

Johann Botha, Standard Bank economist, said: "There was no surprise here. The provinces generally spend more on social services, but as the World Cup approaches we will see infrastructure spending gradually increasing.

"Education and healthcare are still very important elements, especially in Gauteng where people form other parts of the country and the rest of Africa continuously flowing in," Botha added.

The Stats SA Labour Force Survey for March last year showed that unemployment in Gauteng declined from its 30,8percent peak in 2003 to 22,6percent last year.