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All government appointments frozen because Province has to pay back millions to national treasury

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All government appointments have been frozen until the new financial year as the province had to revert an amount of R702 million back to national treasury.

File image. Picture: Karen Sandison/African News Agency(ANA)

ALL GOVERNMENT appointments have been frozen until the new financial year as the Province had to revert an amount of R702 million back to national Treasury.

The MEC for the Department of Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Abraham Vosloo, stated that the Covid-19 pandemic has severely depleted the public purse, at the tabling of the adjustment appropriation bill for the 2020/21 financial year and the provincial medium term budget policy statement.

He said 43 applicants from various departments had qualified for the early retirement dispensation without penalties at a cost of R24 million that would assist in reducing the wage bill.

“The decision by national, to revert R702 million that was earmarked towards the wage agreement in this adjustment back to the national revenue fund has forced the Province to take certain drastic measures.

“The executive council has, with immediate effect, halted any further appointments in the current financial year pending the review of the decision by cabinet not to implement the last leg of the 2018 wage agreement, in the new financial year.”

He added that high levels of government debt would heavily reduce the Province’s spending over the next three years.

“We will have to account for every single cent spent as part of eliminating waste, inefficiency and theft in the system.”

He believed that it was necessary to enforce accountability through consequence management.

“We are determined to ensure that all forms of waste, corruption, and inefficiencies across levels of the provincial administration are dealt with to protect our core business.

“As part of improving political oversight on the budget the Premier, Dr Zamani Saul, will hold quarterly engagements with all MECs and senior management to account on irregular expenditure, unauthorised expenditure, accruals and expenditure. These engagements will ensure MECs take full responsibility for the performance of their respective departments.”

Vosloo stated that government had a responsibility to provide financial assistance to the vulnerable and prevent further devastation of the economy during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“In view of the dire economic circumstances and challenges brought on by increasing government debt, we must recognise the pressure that is placed on the national government. The Province receives 98 percent of its total provincial budget from national transfers in the form of the equitable shares and grants.”

He stated that the economy of the Northern Cape was severely impacted by the current economic crisis.

“The need for social distancing and reduced sizes of public gatherings is still preventing certain businesses from functioning at full capacity. Further relaxing of lockdown regulations is expected to further assist the provincial economy together with the national economy in its road to recovery.”

Vosloo said an amount of R529 million was reprioritised from departments and diverted towards Covid-19 spending, with the exception of the social sector, in the revised 2020/21 adjustment budget framework.

“Given this scenario, we found it extremely difficult to have a fair balance in view of further cuts as required by the national treasury.

“A total amount of R133 million that was made available but earmarked towards our economic recovery initiatives of the Province.”

He stated that the Province received an additional R281 million from the presidential employment stimulus towards different sectors.

“We are adding an amount of R138 million as our provincial share to this amount to allow us to have a comprehensive response towards creating a safety net to create job opportunities in different sectors in the Province. We will spend a total amount of R419 million between now and the end of March 2021.”

Vosloo added that an amount of R47.8 million would be allocated to fund urgent priorities in different departments.

He indicated that the net effect of all the adjustments on the provincial framework provided for total provincial receipts of R57 billion over the 2021 medium term expenditure framework.

“As to be expected, the social sector departments drives the expenditure of the province constituting 74 per cent of the total budget between social development, health, education and sport, arts and culture.”

Key adjustments include:

R148. 2 million for the appointment of teaching and school assistants and the saving of school governing body posts at the Department of Education

R101.6 million for the Department of Roads and Public Works of which R96.8 million will go to improve road infrastructure maintenance across the province

R37. 6 million to the Department of Economic Development of which R3 million will be allocated to to cover the operational costs of the One Stop Shop at the Northern Cape Economic Development, Trade and Investment Promotion Agency (Nceda)

R70 million for small, medium and macro enterprises

R1. 5 million for community library services and R115 000 for the mass participation and sport development grant.

R4 million to Provincial Treasury for the municipal intervention programme.

R5. 3 million to the Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlement and Traditional Affairs of which R4 million will be used in the provincial intervention at Renosterberg municipality.

R10.3 million to the Department of Health for community outreach services

R5.2 million for the appointment of community health workers and R4.3 million for statutory human resources, training and development

R150 million to assist the Department of Health as part of COVID-19 response.

R42.3 million for early childhood development

R13.2 million for food relief

R20 million to develop a business rescue plan for the rooibos factory

R35.5 million for land care and drought relief

R7 million to assist emerging entrepreneurs in the agricultural sector and establishment of an intensive sheep farming programme

R32 million to cover the costs related to the commission at South African Post Office

R10 million to conclude the technical feasibility studies for the Boegoebaai port project

R17 million to revitalise provincial nature reserves