Today, Premier Winde delivered the budget adjustments speech for the Department of the Premier.
The speech comes after the mid-term budget policy statement delivered by Western Cape Finance Minister David Maynier last week, which reflected the Western Cape Government's relentless focus on safety, and on addressing its other key priorities of economic growth, empowering people, enhancing mobility and spatial transformation and investing in innovation.
The adjustments in the Department's vote relate largely to additional funds received and shifts between votes.
However, Premier Winde said two of the largest moves in the budget were a direct result of National Government actions negatively impacting the provincial budget.
In March this year, the National Minister of Finance introduced an amendment to the VAT regulations pertaining to electronic services. The amendment came into effect on 1 April, and affected the licensing charges of Microsoft products. As a result, the Department was required to pay VAT of R15 million for which no budgetary provision had been made, to cover the licenses for approximately 24 500 work stations.
As a result of extreme pressure on the national fiscus as a result of poor management of the economy, and poor fiscal decisions, national government called for better control of the public sector wage bill.
Premier Winde said: "The Western Cape Government has been committed to making prudent financial decisions, but nonetheless, the Department of the Premier has heeded the call. The department has been managing recruitment through a special committee which determines whether posts need to be filled immediately, or whether they can be filled at a later stage. This has yielded a R34 million saving which has been surrendered to the Provincial Treasury to help ease the fiscal pressures we are experiencing in the province at the moment."
In his speech, Premier Winde provided an update on several of the projects aimed at improving internet connectivity across the province. These include:
-An internal shift of R 5 million was made to the Cape Access Centres. These 71 e-centres are spread across the province and provide free access to ICT and digital skills development opportunities in the Western Cape. These centres are a valuable tool for learners and students, the unemployed and entrepreneurs.
-The Department of the Premier signed a new wi-fi agreement in December 2018, allowing us to expand wi-fi to approximately 1600 of our buildings. The free public wi-fi service will be rolled out at schools, clinics, hospitals, rural libraries, and other government buildings, so that the public can easily access internet services.
-The roll out of the Broadband Strategy and Implementation Plan progressed well during the year under review. During the first phase of the broadband project, 1875 sites were connected. The second phase has commenced and by November, 898 sites had been upgraded to minimum speeds of 1GB per second.
-In rolling out limited broadband to the municipal sphere 21 municipalities have been connected so far.
In responding to engagements in the house, Premier Winde one again underscored his commitment and leadership role in implementing the recently announced Safety Plan, the full details of which have been published at www.westerncape.gov.za. This is a joint plan across all of government which will see the ramping up of violence prevention strategies in at-risk communities, as well as increased boots on the ground. The provincial government has kick started the implementation of the plan by already having made funds available through the adjustments process, instead of waiting for the commencement of the new financial year.