KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Pietermaritzburg: Thursday, 24 March 2011
The prerequisite for government-enabled
economic growth and job creation is clean and efficient government.
While every department is responsible for safeguarding these
principles, Provincial Treasury, along with the Office of the
Premier, takes the lead by ensuring that the public money is spent
effectively and managed with integrity.
While Treasury has made significant progress
in this area – as has been pointed out by previous speakers during
this debate - the organisational structures in the fight against
corruption within government as a whole remain largely procedural.
The institutions within and outside the provincial government whose
job is to fight corruption are too many in number and too disjointed
Their work remains constrained not only by a
lack of capacity but, even more seriously, by a breakdown in
communication and a lack of cooperation with individual departments.
While the government and the law enforcement agencies accuse each
other of inordinate delays in taking action, hundreds of disgraced
civil servants continue to benefit from the stalemate.
Treasury’s role lies in coordinating these
efforts and for this purpose we have proposed a live access database
for all ongoing disciplinary cases. This project would mark a
significant step towards expediting disciplinary proceedings in
government departments. It would also help open these procedures to
regular public scrutiny through this Legislature’s finance and SCOPA
Similarly, Treasury plays an important role
in helping to rationalise the public sector and reprioritise
spending to ensure that the bulk of the provincial budget supports
service delivery and job creation. We acknowledge that a significant
portion of the provincial budget is earmarked for the social sector
and that social sectors are labour-intensive and therefore tend to
have sizeable staff components.
However, the cost of administration in the
social sector remains disproportionately high. This is obvious when
one compares the proportion of the budget for corporate services and
for service delivery in the Department of Community Safety and
Liaison. Another department where administration has been growing at
the expense of service delivery is Social Development. Treasury
needs to devise more effective formulas to redistribute funds from
administration towards service delivery.
The current budget structure does not
reflect the top priorities of the provincial government as a whole,
with the more marginal departments continuing to pursue
overambitious agendas, often without cooperation with key service
delivery departments. The choice of an across the board cut of 7.5
percent rather than redistribution of funds in the wake of the
deficit crisis in the 2009/2010 financial year confirmed this trend.
In dual recognition of the need to maintain
fiscal balance and the magnitude of challenges in key service
delivery departments, a greater effort could have been made to
redistribute the excess funding from the Department of Economic
Development to key service delivery departments, including
Education; Health; Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Rural
Development; and Transport while freezing the 2011/2012 budget
allocations for all other departments at their 2010/2011 levels.
We believe that such measures could have
gone some way towards averting the public service wage crisis in the
Department of Education as well as the ongoing spending pressures in
the Department of Health. We believe that the recent fiscal crisis
brought about by the multi-billion rand overdraft had created a
favourable opportunity for a shift of emphasis the province’s fiscus
towards service delivery departments. The current budget
demonstrates that this opportunity has now been wasted.
Parallel to our proposed shift in emphasis
is our propos.....ce key service delivery programmes in all
departments and, in order to pre-empt over-expenditure, to fund
unfunded mandates, such as OSDs and higher than budgeted for wage
agreements, from efficiency gains and savings from the elimination
of unnecessary bureaucracy and government intervention. This would
no doubt reverse the trend in the Department of Social Development
and elsewhere of expanding the cost of administration at the expense
of service delivery.
On the whole, it is refreshing to see most
government departments turning their attention to their core
functions rather than peripheral projects, which became a worrying
trend in this province during the previous term of this Legislature.
Upon her appointment two years ago, the MEC for Finance placed an
overdue emphasis on essential services and she has not lost her
focus ever since. As long as she and her team at Treasury continue
to pursue the path of fiscal prudence, they will have our
I thank you.
Dr Lionel Mtshali
082 556 0224