Gauteng increases budget by R4bn to deal with Covid-19

FILE IMAGE: Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.
FILE IMAGE: Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko.
Image: Antonio Muchave

Gauteng finance MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko has presented a budget to the legislature which reprioritised money to help the provincial government respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Nkomo-Ralehoko’s adjusted 2020/2021 budget increased by R4bn from the R142.4bn announced in March to R146.4bn.

Funds were reprioritised by provincial treasury to avail more money for health, education and social development which desperately need more funding in the fight against Covid-19 in the province.

“A total of R5.9bn is allocated to the health response, and will be used to provide health infrastructure including refurbishment of facilities and build field hospitals, procure necessary medical equipment, ensure the provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen and testing kits, and hiring and remuneration of frontline health personnel, which is a key component in the Covid-19 response,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

The education department received R6.3bn. This allocation includes R5.2bn which has been reprioritised internally and R1.2bn new money aimed at providing resources outlined by national government as requirements for the reopening of schools.

The department of social development received R88.9m to fund a Covid-19 response that extends beyond normal responsibilities such as shelters for the homeless.

Nkomo-Ralehoko protected the investment on infrastructure which is part of provincial government’s economic response to Covid-19 for the 2020/2021 financial year. She increased the budget for infrastructure by 5.3% from R11.6bn announced in March to R12.2bn.

“The increase is driven by the Covid-19 infrastructure requirements in health, where the budget for infrastructure has more than doubled from R2b to R4.2bn.  This budget will be used to provide additional health facilities and refurbish existing ones in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Infrastructure is a fundamental enabler towards the delivery of services, creation of sustainable job opportunities and economic growth and development,” she said.

 Additional allocations included:

-R250m to support small, medium- and micro enterprises (SMMEs) through partnerships with the private sector to raise money required to expand procurement and business development support;

-R28.3m towards the department of sport, arts, culture and recreation relief fund;  

-R14m for the contribution to operational costs for the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone; and

 -R20m for ward-based public awareness to limit the spread of Covid-19.

Allocation for the office of the premier declined by R17.5m. Human settlements also decreased by R598.2m as well as roads and transport whose allocation shrank by R691.4m. The department of infrastructure development’s budget was adjusted down by R28.8m while provincial treasury also cut its own allocation by R68.5m for the financial year.

Gauteng has become the epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic, overtaking the Western Cape. As at July 22, Gauteng led with 144,582 cases with 77,397 recoveries and 1,156 deaths.

Infections have risen so high that some funeral parlours have started building mobile mortuaries in preparation for a peak in fatalities.

 

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