KwaZulu-Natal Finance MEC Nomusa Dube-Ncube has promised that her department will move with speed to implement, in line with the national plan, the Provincial Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan, as articulated by KwaZulu-Natal Premier Sihle Zikalala.
Dube-Ncube, on Tuesday, tabled the 2021/22 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) Budget for the province.
Opposition parties have recently painted a gloomy picture of the provincial government’s fiscal position.
“Similar to all provinces across the country, the economic growth in KwaZulu-Natal continued to be slow, with the real regional gross domestic product contracting by 7.1% last year. This is expected to strengthen to 2.5% this year before moderating to 1.5% in 2022,” Dube-Ncube revealed.
She said the most negatively affected economic sectors were manufacturing, transport, trade and tourism.
Dube-Ncube’s department plans to quickly turn around the situation by enhancing industrial development through investment into the key productive sectors of the economy.
On fighting unemployment, she said there was a need for the province to ensure that the call for radical economic transformation did not remain a slogan, but that it should find practical expression in government and private sector programmes.
Procurement reforms would be one of the tools aimed at radical economic transformation by all spheres of government and its entities, she said.
The province has also promised to help fund enterprises that have suffered triple exclusion as a result of the pandemic, such as small, medium-sized and microenterprises and cooperatives owned by Africans in particular, and women, youth and disabled people in particular, as they remain excluded from the mainstream economy.
On the fiscal policy consideration, Dube-Ncube said the province’s year-on-year comparison shows a significant contraction.
She said despite the fiscal consolidation budget cuts, every effort was made to not effect these cuts against the infrastructure budgets of the departments.
KwaZulu-Natal therefore continues to invest in infrastructure development, with the infrastructure budget amounting to R16.3-billion, R16.6-billion and R17-billion over the MTEF.
The Department of Transport will spend R23.8-billion over the three years of the MTEF.
The Department of Health plans to spend R6.4-billion over the MTEF on infrastructure.
The department has embarked on a drive to install 356 generators in various clinics, forensic mortuaries, regional laundries and the provincial pharmaceutical supply depot.
It has earmarked R98-million in 2021/22 to complete the installation of these generators. This includes the purchase of additional generators for emergency breakdown of the installed generators.
R66-million will be used to eradicate asbestos roofs in all provincial clinics and community health centres.
Education has been allocated R8.2-billion over the MTEF, with a focus on the completion of construction projects in various schools.
“The department will also establish focus schools, namely an Agricultural School of Excellence in the uMgungundlovu District, a Maritime School of Excellence in Pinetown and a School of Autism in uMlazi,” Dube-Ncube revealed.
Meanwhile, the Department of Social Development will receive R3.7-billion.
Dube-Ncube said the department will also continue to lead government’s response to gender-based violence (GBV) through the implementation of the KZN Provincial GBV Plan in partnership with cluster departments.
“Economic and resource constraints remain a challenge facing government and hence the department will continue to build strategic partnerships with all stakeholders, including the private sector, to increase delivery capacity in the province,” she said.