KZN Cogta welcomes increased infrastructure budget

Pretoria: KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta), Nomusa Dube-Ncube, has welcomed the increased infrastructure budget allocations for municipalities and the fact that a significant share will go to KZN.

“As KZN Cogta, we have long called for increased allocations for basic services in our local municipalities, which despite major advancements, continue to experience infrastructure backlogs,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.

Tabling this year’s national budget on Wednesday, Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene announced that allocations for water, sanitation and electricity in rural municipalities have been increased substantially.

He said that R4.3 billion will be spent over the next three years to build capacity and strengthen systems for financial management and infrastructure delivery.

Review of infrastructure grants

MEC Dube-Ncube said she was also excited about the planned review of local government infrastructure grants, which will lead to consolidation of this crucial funding for development in the previously disadvantaged parts of KZN.

The review of local government infrastructure grants will give special attention to the maintenance of infrastructure, so that the gains made over the past 20 years continue to be extended and enjoyed by all over the life of these assets.

“We have long submitted to national treasury the argument about the need to review the equitable share allocations to consider costs of implementing projects based on the topography we have in KwaZulu-Natal.

“Repairs and maintenance of municipal infrastructure remains one of our key priorities as we urge municipalities to go back to basics as part of the Back to Basics programme, which we have just launched in the province,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.

Health budget welcomed

Meanwhile, the South African Medical Association Trade Union (SAMATU) has welcomed the budget increase in health and education spending, citing both as essential for the creation of a functioning healthcare system in South Africa.

The union’s president, Dr Phophi Ramathuba, said she hopes that the increase in spending will result in a great improvement on the quality of healthcare at medical facilities.

“Ordinary people are still complaining about shortages of medicine, medical equipment and healthcare professionals. We therefore call upon the Departments of Health and Treasury to find solutions to this crisis and indicate whether more funding or better management is needed,” said Ramathuba.

R1.5 billion allocated to NICD

SAMATU also welcomed the R1.5 billion that has been taken from provinces and allocated to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), as well as the final commitment on the release of the National Health Insurance White Paper.

The union, however, said it was worried that nothing was being said on funding towards the increased training of doctors, especially medical specialists.

“On a positive note, SAMATU is encouraged by the final registration of the Office of Health Standards and Compliance (OHSC) and the R120 million budget allocation it has been afforded.

“We hope the structure will now have no reasons to stop functioning. Our members on the ground have been patiently waiting for OHSC inspectors to visit our facilities and assist in making sure hospitals and clinics meet the required standards to operate,” Ramathuba said.