Western Cape Government (WCG) departments last week tabled their Adjustments Budget votes in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP). This year’s adjustments votes were unprecedented because provincial governments across South Africa are being forced to make drastic current financial year cuts.
The adjustments lay the foundation for the next phase of the budget cycle. This entire process is vital to the WCG’s budgetary planning, which is firmly rooted in a scenario-based, risk-aware, and data-led approach.
Reflecting on the budget votes this week, Premier Alan Winde stressed, “Our budgetary planning is a critical requirement of a stable, effective, and citizen-centric government such as ours. This is even more important now as we face these catastrophic current financial year budget cuts. It is unfathomable and unconscionable that national government has broken its contract with the citizens of this province with such callous disregard for the impact on our vulnerable citizens and critical frontline services.”
Yet as provinces’ budgets are cut, threatening service delivery, national government still sees it fit to continue with futile bailouts of dysfunctional state-owned entities like South African Airways. As noted in the budget debates this week, over the last five years the national government has spent a staggering “R233 billion on zombie state-owned enterprises”, and now has the audacity to cut critical budgets for hospitals, clinics and roads. “National government should be ashamed of itself. This callous behaviour must be called out and challenged. This is why we are declaring a dispute with national government; we will do everything we can to ensure that the residents of the Western Cape get their fair share,” said Premier Winde.
The R1.1 billion current financial shortfall caused by the centrally negotiated public wage bill will be a major setback and is an affront, especially to the vulnerable in our province and country. To add insult to injury, conditional grants will be reduced by more than R642 million in total, affecting the budgets of the provincial government’s frontline service departments:
- Education will be cut by R156 885 million
- Health and Wellness will be cut by R121.987 million
- Infrastructure will be reduced by R323 889 million
- Social Development will be slashed by R351 000
However, the Premier emphasised that despite being short-changed, the provincial government will still strive to keep delivering for its residents.
During the Premier’s speech on the occasion of the Department of the Premier’s 2023/24 Adjustments Budget Vote speech on Thursday, 7 December, he stated, “Yet even in the face of perennial issues and adversities, including the catastrophic energy crisis, alarmingly high unemployment, and crime levels, and the calamitous fiscal crisis forced on us by national government – we still build hope for the future.”