Attention editors: English audio clip by MPP Deidré Baartman.
This afternoon, Minister of Finance Mireille Wenger tabled the Western Cape’s Main Budget for the 2023/2024 financial year in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. As the principal guide of government spending for the next financial year, the budget plots a practical, realistic path to shield the Western Cape from rolling blackouts, enhance social services, and create jobs.
The budget will see R1.1 billion spent over the 2023 MTEF on giving power to our citizens. This includes R444.5 million to generate new energy, and a further R148.7 million to drive the procurement of Independent Power Producers (IPPs) in the Western Cape’s municipalities.
In addition to all of this, R88.8 million has already been spent by the Department of Local Government on procuring backup generators for our local municipalities in order to shield critical infrastructure from loadshedding. These initiatives form a key component of the DA’s plans to end loadshedding in the province, and to free our citizens from the shackles of Eskom’s collapsing power grid.
These energy allocations will also be subject to the same Procurement Disclosure Reporting process that was used during the Covid 19 pandemic in order to ensure that this process is uncorruptible, and that every cent of this money is well-spent.
R39.82 billion will be devoted to the Western Cape’s new ‘Growth for Jobs’ initiative, which aims to grow the provincial economy by 4-6% by 2035. This will result in a continuation of the province’s spectacular growth in jobs, which saw the Western Cape create 167 000 of South Africa’s 169 000 new jobs last quarter. The province’s continued economic growth will further be boosted by an unprecedented R32.57 billion investment into infrastructure, including R13 billion on transport infrastructure and R7.76 billion on providing housing opportunities.
An extra R396 million has been added to the safety budget, which has now reached R4.76 billion. The budget not only funds policing, but will also pay for R987.38 million on the Department of Social Development’s Crime Prevention and Support Program. In this way, the Western Cape Government will attack both the causes and effects of crime in a holistic response which aims for the safety of every citizen.
Finally, several allocations have been made to Education, with an additional R350 million allocated to increase school spaces. This will result in a continuation of the highly successful Rapid School Build program, which has thus far built 721 classrooms, with a further 121 to be completed by 31 March. R192.74 million will be spent on the School Feeding Scheme over the next three years in order to keep our children well-fed and ready to learn.
As Minister Wenger noted, the budget has come together in a financially constrained environment, with national government spending R340 billion on debt servicing alone this year. The national government has dramatically reduced its conditional grants in many areas. Nevertheless, the Provincial Treasury has worked diligently to plug these holes, with R85.56 billion allocated to healthcare in the Western Cape. This includes R239.43 million for mental health services, and an additional R92.35 million to improve the response to Tuberculosis in the province.
Reacting to the tabling, DA Western Cape Spokesperson on Budget Deidré Baartman MPP said: “It is no secret that our province continues to suffer due to the problems created by the ANC at the national level, as exemplified by loadshedding. But this Budget of Action represents the Western Cape Government taking the initiative to ensure our people are safe, employed, educated and healthy. It represents this government’s desire to improve our infrastructure, to supercharge the provincial economy, and to give power back to our people. The DA constantly strives to improve the lot of every one of our citizens, and this budget represents the next great leap in that process.”