KwaZulu-Natal’s provincial treasury was facing massive pressure as a result of the projected over expenditure at the province’s two largest departments, KwaZulu-Natal finance MEC Belinda Scott said on Thursday.
Scott was speaking while tabling the provincial mid-term budget in Pietermaritzburg and said that while expenditure had to be reigned in, service delivery had to continue.
“The economic environment is uncertain and also unusually difficult. While preparing a budget is always about making choices, a difficult economic environment sharpens and focuses the need to weigh up our priorities in line with the funding available,” she said.
The province’s two largest departments — health and education — were expected to overspend by at least R1.2 billion.
She said the provincial cabinet had directed the two departments to prepare credible cost containment plans that see their projected over-spending for 2016/17 reduced to zero.
The two departments get nearly two thirds of the annual government budget owing to massive workforce.
She announced that one of her senior officials will be deployed to the provincial health department in a bid to rein in runaway expenditure.
Herman Conradie will assist in the financial management of the provincial health department which was projecting an over-expenditure of R1.1 billion in the 2015/16 financial year. The provincial education was also expected to overspend by R87.455 million.
“Provincial Treasury is working with these two departments in preparing these cost containment plans. It is essential that this spending pressure be controlled as, without these plans, the provincial fiscus is at risk,” she said.
Part of the plans to curb spending in the province included asking more government departments to make use of the government owned Mayville Conference Centre in Durban.
Vacant posts would be frozen, but those deemed as critical will only filled with the express approval of the Premier and the MEC for Finance.
The various departments would need to cut down on the use of consultants.
“We are in tough economic times, there are no indications that government spending will increase massively next year because there is just not a lot of money around. This calls on all departments and entities to curb on over-expenditure,” said Scott.
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