Western Cape tables its Medium-Term Budget

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The province of the Western Cape says it’s planning for a 10% shortfall in its annual budget as a result of the R50 billion tax under collection announced by SA Revenue Service (SARS) earlier in November.

Western Cape Minister of Finance Dr Ivan Meyer announced his Medium-Term Budget on Thursday with a lowered forecast of 0.5% in GDP growth. This is lower than the national forecast of 0.7%.

The province of the Western Cape, says while its growth will fall below the national average of 2017, it’s predicted to recover by 1% in 2018. Meyer says his government has clear plans to grow the economy of the province.

“Seven of the 10 fastest growing economies in the world are in the African continent, to have a 5, 6% growth that is happening in these economies, also in China India, our important part is to integrate our economy with the African economy, if we do that we can generate 1% growth, we have relations with East Africa, we are exporting more and more of our products into the rest of the continent”.

New demands to the fiscus have emerged, brought about by the drought, water security and the impact of the Avian Flu which has led to the culling of about 3 million birds in the commercial poultry sector and their eggs.

Meyer says over R300 million has been set aside over the next three years to mitigate the current drought in the province, with a further R75 million allocated for the emergency funding following the devastating fires.

“R365 million this year and over the next two years, the last thing you want to see is a hospital and a school running out of water, we are busy with plans to drill boreholes at specific hospitals and clinics.”

The African National Congress (ANC) Finance spokesperson in the legislature, Carol Brerwinkel says they want more involvement as opposition parties, in budgeting.

“Same old, same old. It’s just the boreholes and the drought and there’s no initiative as to something innovative that can really work. The drought is upon us and we still don’t know where these boreholes are going to be built, whether they are going to work. All the time we have the same rhetoric, but my biggest concern is that the sooner we get this bill going that says we are allowed to amend money bill, the sooner we will have inputs in these amendments that just get put in front of us and we have to accept it.”

The province says the army may be deployed in about a month’s time in crime hot spot areas, and to escort medical emergency vehicles on the Cape Flats. This, after several attacks on personnel who have to respond to emergency calls.

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) supported the budget although with reservations saying the province had been warned ten years ago about the coming drought, and did nothing.