File photo: KZN Finance MEC Belinda Scott.

JOHANNESBURG - KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Finance, Belinda Scott, on Friday announced widespread cuts in the provincial government's conditional grants allocation over the next three years.

Presenting her 2018/19 Budget, Scott said that the province's portion of the conditional grant cuts over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework were R225.7 million in 2018/19 and R1.3 billion in 2019/20, while there would be an increase of R331.4 million in 2020/21. 

This comes after National Treasury last month indicated that reprioritisation and reductions were made against grants with fast growth, low spending and/or where the impact on economic growth and service delivery was less. 

KwaZulu-Natal's total budget allocation from National Treasury was R119 billion in 2018/19, R126.6 billion in 2019/20, and R135.8 billion in 2020/21.

Scott said that the provincial fiscal framework took into account the changes in the provincial equitable share, conditional grants and provincial own revenue allocations, as well as priorities funded using provincial cash resources.

Scott said that despite the encouraging economic outlook, the country’s financial position was "still under severe pressure, demanding that we make tough decisions".

She announced that the land care grant under the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development would be decreased by R985 000 in 2019/20 and R302 000 in 2020/21, with no additions or reductions in 2018/19.

The education infrastructure grant, Scott said, was cut by R57.9 million, R237.4 million and R40.7 million over the next three years as a result of the fiscal consolidation budget cuts. 

The HIV and AIDS grant under Education was cut by R447 000 in 2018/19 and by R539 000 in 2019/20, while showing inflationary growth of R2.8 million in 2020/21, with the allocation amounting to R58.9 million, R62.2 million and R65.5 million over the medium term.

Also, the Maths, Science and Technology grant under Education was reduced by R1.8 million and R1.9 million in 2018/19 and 2019/20, respectively, while increasing marginally by R552 000 in 2020/21. 

Other grants that saw a decrease include the important human settlements development grant, the provincial road maintenance grant, the public transport operations grant, early-childhood development grant, and the community library services grant.

Scott said that National Treasury indicated that reprioritisation and reductions were made against grants with fast growth, low spending and/or where the impact on economic growth and service delivery was less. Some grants benefit from additions, while one new grant is incorporated into the fiscal framework.

 African News Agency/ANA