Johannesburg - KwaZulu-Natal will keep up belt-tightening measures to ensure provincial spending remained in check, finance MEC Ina Cronje said on Tuesday.
Delivering her R89 billion budget, she said education and health received the lion's share of budget allocations with R37 billion and R28 billion respectively.
However, these areas would not be unaffected by the tightening in spending.
Austerity measures to be introduced included:
- An immediate moratorium on filling vacancies except for critical posts such as department heads, financial officers, clinical staff and essential administrative staff;
- A review of all organisational structures would be undertaken to eliminate some non-essential posts permanently;
- Conducting a government staff head count to eliminate ghost employees.
Cronje called on the legislature, MECs and civil servants to do their best with the limited resources.
“We need discipline and courage to spend on budget, obtain clean audits, eliminate unnecessary costs and wastage, (and) get value for money,” she said.
“Doing more with less, deal with corruption and deliberate wrong-doing, and eliminate unauthorised and irregular expenditure.”
She stressed the need to be vigilant in the managing of personnel budgets, adding that officials had to ensure there was an existing budget before making appointments.
The MEC said the fight against fraud and corruption remained a priority.
“We cannot lose money that should be spent on effective and efficient service delivery programmes through dishonesty,” she said.
“Let us be mindful to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching.”
Cronje said the 2011 Census results had an impact on KwaZulu-Natal's budget, with the province receiving less money from the national government than expected this year.
Political parties widely welcomed Cronje's budget.
The ANC said the budget was well considered and meticulously crafted to fit perfectly with development programmes.
IFP finance spokesman Roman Liptak said cost-cutting measures would work with everyone’s participation.
“The new and existing cost-saving measures must be implemented consistently, monitored vigorously and communicated adequately so buy-in from every single civil servant in KZN is secured.”
The Democratic Alliance applauded Cronje, stating that curbing spending was an important tool that would guarantee the province's stability.
“The immediate moratorium on filling of non-critical posts and review of organograms, along with cut-backs on all subsistence and travel and other unnecessary expenditure are widely welcomed,” finance spokesman Johan Krog said. - Sapa