KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott, and head of department, Simiso Magagula.

PIETERMARITZBURG - KwaZulu-Natal Finance Member of the Executive Committee (MEC) Belinda Scott on Friday said key services will still be delivered, this despite harsh economic realities such as low economic growth and the increase in value added tax which will force government to buy less goods and services.

Scott delivered the R122.5 billion budget for the 2018/2019 financial year at the Royal Showgrounds, in Pietermaritzburg on Friday. 

Scott outlined a series of interventions to control spending in departments, which includes deploying officials from provincial treasury to assist battling departments and public entities. 

"Despite the budget cuts, our commitment to the people of KwaZulu-Natal is that we will protect government’s key priority programmes as far as possible so that we do not lose sight of our vision of ensuring a better life to all," said Scott.

Some of the priorities for 2018/2019 include:

- The construction and maintenance of Early Childhood Development classes.

- Continuing with the slums clearing programme.

- Repairing the road network.

- Implementing community based, rural township tourism projects as part of radical economic transformation.

The education department has been allocated R50.9 billion and the health department received R42.3 billion with the remaining R30 billion split among smaller departments. 

According to Scott, the decline in contingency reserves from over a billion to a mere R174 million was an illustration that there was a need for departments to spend funds wisely.  

"Our fiscal discipline has helped us in the past and will help us again to deal with the budget cuts, while remaining focused on our key priority programmes. It is important for all of us to take joint ownership of the cost-cutting measures as these are not only the responsibility of Provincial Treasury," Scott said. 

"We all have a role to play. We must improve efficiencies in our spending so that we can re-direct more and more funds to core service delivery programmes for the benefit of our people, especially during this time of continued fiscal consolidation."

Scott said treasury would continue to enforce compliance with all Supply Chain Management (SCM) prescripts in provincial departments, municipalities and public entities; and establish and maintain a strategic link between financial management reforms and procurement processes. 

The move was aimed cutting down incidents of irregular expenditure relating to SCM, to ensure the number of departments getting clean audits was improved.

African News Agency/ANA