R11.5bn set aside for KZN to fight raging pandemic
Durban - A lump sum of R11.5 billion has been set aside by the KZN government to tackle the raging Covid-19 pandemic as the province is one of the worst affected by the pandemic.
The funds were announced by Ravi Pillay, the province’s MEC for finance when he presented his virtual adjusted 2020/21 budget.
“The total amount that the province has estimated is required for the Covid-19 response is around R11.5bn,” he said.
Out of this R11.5bn, the Department of Health will receive R8.2bn, Education R2.8bn, Social Development R300.1million and Transport R214m, which will mainly go to scholar transport.
The budget also had to be adjusted to avail another huge sum of R6.2bn by reprioritising budgets for some departments.
However, the critical departments of Health and Education were spared from having to reprioritise their budget as they are already at the forefront of the battle.
“As a first instance, all departments and public entities’ budgets were assessed line by line to first identify savings that arose as a result of the impact of lockdown. Items such as subsistence and travel were looked at, as there were savings against these for some departments, especially during level 4 and 5 of the national lockdown,” he said.
“Also impacted were expenditure items related to hosting events and these were identified as savings to be used towards the Covid-19 budget requirements. There was also further engagement with each department and entity on areas where further cuts could be effected, for example, against the consultants’ budgets, purchases of machinery and equipment and so on.”
Some of the other money came from freezing provincial government posts and reprioritising money for some projects like the construction of a new provincial archive repository.
This was while other money came from sources like the provincial contingency reserve where R190m of its R300m was taken.
As a result of the pandemic, the province expects its multibillion economy to shrink by 8.5% and in the process, it expects about 300000 working-class people to lose their jobs. However, it has plans to revive the economy after the Covid-19 period.