2015 main budget speech delivered by Premier Helen Zille
Madame Speaker, the 2015/16 Main Budget is R304 million more than the 2014/15 Main Budget. This represents an increase of 29,6 per cent in the budget of the Department of the Premier, chiefly as a result of the funding allocated to the Broadband Project from the 2014/15 financial year onwards. Compared to the 2014/15 Adjustments Budget, the budget of the Department drops by 1.2 per cent in 2015/16.
The budget outlook over the medium term is constrained. Due to MTEF budget cuts totalling R67 million for the period 2015/16 to 2017/18, all programmes have very little manoeuvrability going forward.
The budget was balanced with some difficulty, as gains from austerity measures were neutralised by the shortfalls that resulted from budget cuts. In an attempt to remain within its forecasted baseline, the Department reviewed all vacant posts according to strict criteria, which resulted in 111 posts being frozen indefinitely. A few absolutely critical posts were funded, some through cutbacks on project funding.
The budgets of all programmes had to be reprioritised to fall within the reduced budget allocations and this necessitated cutbacks on projects that were not absolutely essential to the achievement of strategic objectives. The inability of the Western Cape Government to influence national wage negotiations remains a major budget risk going forward.
Madame Speaker, the Department is guided by the Provincial Strategic Plan (PSP) adopted by Cabinet last month. The Department of the Premier has two main roles in relation to the PSP:
- Firstly, it co-ordinates and supports the Western Cape Government in the development and implementation of the PSP and oversees the Provincial Transversal Management System, including periodic measurement of implementation progress and evaluating whether we have achieved what we set out to deliver at the start of the planning period.
- Secondly, it leads the implementation of Strategic Goal 5, which aims to embed good governance and integrated service delivery through partnership and spatial alignment. The Department of the Premier is supported by the Provincial Treasury, the Department of Local Government and the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
Madame Speaker, the Western Cape Government has identified increased accessibility to broadband as a game changer that could be a catalyst for socio-economic growth in the Province.
Just last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Bandwidth Barn Khayelitsha launch which is based at Lookout Hill. The Barn, as it is known, serves as a business incubator which is enabling emerging people from the community to gain access to markets, internet & skills resources and opportunities they would otherwise be unable to tap into. Young entrepreneurs are creating jobs in Khayelitsha as a result of this initiative. When broadband is made accessible in our communities: innovation that leads to jobs is the result.
Therefore, the Department of the Premier through the Centre for e-Innovation, has been tasked to provide the infrastructure backbone for the provincial broadband strategy.
Our Broadband Strategy is aimed at co-ordinating and integrating government action to radically improve the provision of telecommunication infrastructure, skills and usage within the Province. The vision is that of a Western Cape where every town and village has access to affordable high-speed broadband infrastructure and services, the necessary skills to effectively utilise this infrastructure and is actively utilising this in their day-to-day lives.
R237 million has been set aside in the 2015/16 financial year for this purpose.
We have already rolled out free public WiFi of 250 megabytes per day for each user, in George, Robertson, Atlantis and Delft areas. At least 80 000 residents now have access to free broadband and we will continue to roll this out, in partnership with the private sector.
The implementation of an integrated province-wide monitoring and evaluation-automated solution (Biz System) will support departments in managing the performance information in this regard.
The Department will further initiate Business Process Optimisation projects, which seek to improve business efficiency and effectiveness, both on system and human performance levels.
A combined assurance framework will also be finalised and aims to provide accounting officers and managements of departments with a tool to manage the coordination of assurance efforts in an integrated manner.
The future is never certain, but good planning, responsiveness to changes in the environment, sound leadership, competent staff, a culture of innovation and effective management, all help ensure that we are able to address the needs and aspirations of the people of the Western Cape.
I thank you.
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