Continued influx into the Gauteng province has placed demands for more social services, prompting government to allocate more money to health and education, Finance MEC Barbara Creecy said on Tuesday as she tabled the province’s R108 billion budget.
Health and education has been allocated R40 billion each, while social development received R4.4 billion.
“One in four South Africans live in Gauteng, and this places great demands on social departments to meet the ever-growing needs of our citizens. In times of fiscal consolidation at national level, we developed a revenue strategy to raise R15.6 billion over the past two and half years to fund increasing demands primarily in education, health and social services,” Creecy said.
Human settlements received a R5.5 billion share from infrastructure spend as the provincial government moves to implement 31 mega housing projects, announced by Premier David Makhura in his state of the province address (Sopa) last month.
Included in the human settlements budget is an amount of R129 million to be used for the revamping of mining towns such as Merafong, Rand West and Mogale City, said Creecy.
“To ensure infrastructure budgets achieve their targets, funds have been allocated only to those projects that are ‘shovel ready’. Preliminary research by auditing firm KPMG shows that the R30 billion spent on infrastructure between 2013-2016 created 92 000 direct jobs and sustained 69 000 indirect jobs, and added R15 billion to household income and generated R6 billion in government revenue.”
The education budget would help roll out the province’s e-learning plan and investing in school technological needs. R476.3-million was set aside to improve matric performance and bachelor pass rates, R586.9-million was for teacher development, training and support, and R630.9-million for early childhood development in the 2017/18 financial year.
From the health budget, R3.7 billion would be spent to prevent and reduce the impact of communicable diseases, implement antiretroviral therapy (ART) and TB testing, screening and treatment. R9 billion was allocated to enhance service delivery in district hospitals, community health clinics and community-based centres. These included hospital infrastructure improvement.
At least R893.8 million has been set aside to improve mental healthcare services over the next three years, added Creecy. This was done as part of implementing Health Ombud Malegapuru Makgoba’s recommendations, following the bungled moving of mentally ill patients from Life Esidimeni to nongovernmental organisations resulting in the deaths of more than 100 patients.
She said her department was ready and committed to helping families affected by the tragedy using the provincial revenue fund wherever necessary. The revenue fund has raised over R15 billion over the last two years, she said.