More money for education, health in KZN

OPTIMISTIC: KwaZulu-Natal's finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize. 25/02/09. © Sowetan.
OPTIMISTIC: KwaZulu-Natal's finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize. 25/02/09. © Sowetan.

Canaan Mdletshe

Canaan Mdletshe

Health and education received the lion's share of KwaZulu-Natal's R60,463billion budget.

Finance and economic development MEC Zweli Mkhize delivered the provincial budget in Pietermaritzburg yesterday. Mkhize said the health department's budget would rise from R17,8billion to more than R22billion while education would get more than R24billion.

"The country's economy has not been insulated from the global economic downturn. Though the direct impact has been minimal, the indirect impact has been much more significant and will continue to affect our national economy during 2009-10," he said.

"Economic reports already indicate an overall slowdown in employment growth and job losses amounting to tens of thousands in sectors such as mining and the automotive industry.

"We will weather this storm. It will not be easy, but with focus, strong will and fiscal discipline we will come out of this crisis," he said.

Mkhize said additional funding had to be made available for multidrug-resistant and extreme drug-resistant tuberculosis, occupational specific dispensation for professional health workers, combating infant and child mortality, the comprehensive HIV and Aids programme and the hospital revitalisation programme.

The IFP voiced its concern about the financial state of the department of health which is responsible for the bulk of the provincial government's overexpenditure.

"Health is a case in point, having overspent by R2billion without fulfilling many of its core functions while running up an advertising bill of R70million in the past financial year," said IFP leader Lionel Mtshali.

Social development will receive R1,1billion; transport R4,5billion; housing R2,1billion; agriculture and environmental affairs R1,6billion; community safety R104million; the royal household R39million; local government and traditional affairs R1billion; public works R733million; arts, culture and tourism R355million; sports and recreation R215million; economic development R2billion and the premier's office R397million.

The DA's spokesman on finance, Johann Krog, condemned Mkhize for failing to take a hard line against overexpenditure by certain departments. "The MEC is accused of failing to address the province's current overdraft of R2billion or a massive R2,5billion overexpenditure within the department of health. If you allocate a certain amount then that is what you spend - no more, no less," Krog said.