thumbs up for R51bn budget

Mary Papayya

Mary Papayya

Business in KwaZulu-Natal gave the provincial budget, presented by finance and economic MEC Zweli Mkhize yesterday, the thumbs up.

The lion's share of the R51,1 billion, 70 percent, went to education and health.

This year's budget is 14 percent more than last year's R45 billion provincial allocation.

The budget focused heavily on poverty alleviation and job creation, carefully targeted second economy interventions, incorporating initiatives such as the co-operatives and SMME financing programmes as well as major investments in infrastructure aimed at job creation and access to the economy.

The budget was also geared towards fighting corruption, strengthening anti-crime initiatives and securing infrastructural development in the run up to 2010.

Mkhize told a packed legislature in Pietermaritzburg that quality education depends on the links between education and a variety of other social and economic outcomes, such as health, social stability, productivity, economic growth.

"Quality education also depends on the availability of physical infrastructure, basic services such as water, sanitation and electricity, housing, roads and health services.

"All of these need to be strengthened to support the schooling system."

He urged communities, the private sector, pupils, managers and practitioners in education to ensure that the quality of education, particularly for the black child, was restored to the correct status.

A total of R1,8 billion was allocated to the department of Education's FET training programmes over the next three years, including R213 million in new funding.

To address the serious concern about the raging HIV-Aids pandemic in the province, Mkhize increased the current Aids funding from R1,2 billion to R1,6 billion over the next three years.

This excludes allocations to the departments of education and welfare for the same project.

A total of R4,6 billion has been allocated to the HIV-Aids programmes in the province in these three government departments over the next three years.

The department will also implement a pro-active strategy to curb the scourge of fraud and corruption in the provincial administration through the project "Unembeza 2008".

The project is aimed at identifying vulnerability factors on the IT systems and networks.

Business leader Bonke Dumisa said: "The allocation takes into consideration both the social and business imperatives."