THUMBS UP: Imbali residents applaud MEC Ina Cronje’s budget speech. Picture: PHUMLANI THABETHE
The provincial treasury was given a warm welcome by the residents of Imbali township in Pietermaritzburg as finance MEC Ina Cronje, and her entourage paid visit for the 2012/13 pre-budget roadshow.
The roadshow’s theme is “Spend your Money Wisely”. She informed the public about how the budget would be used to alleviate poverty in the province.
Speaking at the public hearing on the budget yesterday, ahead of the provincial budget which will be on March 9, Cronje said they were there to empower people, and to let them see how government carries out its duties.
“We are here to talk about money and to empower our people about how to handle their money. We need your opinion on how our department should be allocating the money to the 16 provincial government departments,” she said.
“But we do have priorities and a large portion of the money goes to the education department with 42%, health department 32% and transport 9%.”
In her presentation to outline her department’s vision and motivation behind these three departments, Cronje said more money would go to education because most schools were no-fee schools.
“Another portion would go to school feeding schemes and to special schools where it would help disabled children.
“Our school feeding schemes started with primary schools and but they will be introduced into high schools because even in high schools there is a lot hunger. The big portion of this money, 75%, goes to teachers and the other staff salaries,” said Cronje.
She said another department to enjoy a high portion was health, for maternity and unborn children as well as ARVs to treat HIV patients. But the biggest portion would go to improving hospital and emergency services.
“Most communities don’t have ambulances and have to travel long distances to reach hospitals. Our last big beneficiary is transport where we will build and maintain roads. For instance, airports around our province are getting facelifts, including Pietermaritzburg, Ulundi and Richards Bay airports,” said Cronje.
This year her department had a new initiative called “Operation Pay on Time” based on government’s promise to pay service providers within 30 days.