Western Cape 'on its own in Covid-19 fight after broken budget promises'
The Western Cape government has expressed concern that Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni effectively cut the provincial budget by R113.1 million today while the Covid-19 pandemic is gaining momentum in the province.
Mboweni's actions when he tabled a special adjustment budget contradicted what President Cyril Ramaphosa said when he opened the Hospital of Hope at the Cape Town International Convention Centre recently, promising that “cost is not the issue” in the fight against Covid-19 in the Western Cape, said Finance and Economic Opportunities David Maynier.
"We are on the frontline of the fight against Covid-19, including funding and providing temporary hospital facilities, quarantine and isolation facilities, humanitarian relief and ensuring that schools can operate safely, with costs expected to exceed R5 billion in 2020/21 in the Western Cape," said Maynier.
"A new Covid-19 component of the HIV, TB, malaria and community outreach grant, of R552.2 million meant to support the fight against Covid-19, is a drop in the ocean compared to the expected cost which is estimated to exceed R5 billion in 2020/21 in the Western Cape.
"What is worse, is that the Covid-19 component of the HIV, TB, malaria and community outreach grant is not new money and has in fact been funded by cutting expenditure primarily on infrastructure grants, including the education infrastructure grants, human settlements development grant and the provincial roads maintenance grant, by R665.3 million in 2020/21 in the Western Cape.
"Which amounts to an effective budget cut of R113.1 million in 2020/21 that falls far short of what will be required to fund the frontline response to the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western Cape. What this means is that we are effectively on our own in the fight against Covid-19 in the Western Cape."