Covid-19

CORONAVIRUS WESTERN CAPE

Western Cape unveils ‘Covid-19 budget’

Western Cape Economic Opportunities MEC David Maynier. (Photo: Gallo Images / Beeld / Nasief Manie)

‘A budget to beat Covid-19,’ is how Western Cape Finance MEC David Maynier described the province’s Special Adjustment Budget of R3.5bn.

The Western Cape Department of Health will receive R1.8-billion in a special adjustment budget, MEC David Maynier announced on Thursday. During a hybrid session of the provincial legislature, the Finance and Economic Opportunities MEC said this allocation would go towards personal protective equipment (PPE), the creation of temporary field hospitals and testing and screening.

In March, Maynier tabled the annual budget for the province, but this adjustment came from the government in light of an emergency Covid-19 budget that had been reallocated from various departments and provinces.

“When the main budget was tabled, we committed to supporting the health department should Covid-19 reach the Western Cape,” said Maynier.

Read in Daily Maverick: Maynier unveils R224bn budget, says province is ready for spread of Coronavirus.

“We have seen some positive signs that the storm may be subsiding, but while we are hoping for the best, we have to plan for the worst in the Western Cape”, said Maynier on Thursday. And it has been a storm for the province: since his last budget, the Western Cape at one stage became the province with SA’s most confirmed Covid-19 cases and related deaths, but by July, Gauteng had overtaken the Western Cape. On Thursday the latest provincial statistics reported 87,474 confirmed Covid-19 cases, with 11,991 active cases and 2,788 related deaths.

Speaking against the backdrop of the province’s response to the pandemic, Maynier said, “We have a plan… which is why we are tabling ‘a budget to beat Covid-19 in the Western Cape’ today in Parliament”. He said the plan supports the province’s health, humanitarian, and economic responses during Covid-19.

In addition to the money allocated to the health department, Maynier said the budget will be broken down in the following way:

  • The Department of Transport and Public Works gets R400-million for the hiring of venues and the purchase of services for quarantine and isolation facilities;
  • The Department of Education will be given R310-million for personal protective equipment, and the sanitisation of schools;
  • R14-million goes to the Department of Economic Development and Tourism to support small businesses, workplace safety, and screening passengers at the George Airport; and
  • R12-million goes to the Department of Social Development for personal protective equipment and operational support to old age homes and early childhood development centres across the Western Cape.

In addition, R84-million will be spent on humanitarian relief, which includes funding for school feeding schemes, emergency food relief programmes and local government coordination.

Deidré Baartman, the DA’s provincial spokesperson on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism said: “We have saved R1-billion by reducing costs as a result of the lockdown. These savings… will go directly to the needs of the province which government must meet and of which the legislature will have oversight.”

ANC legislature spokesperson on Finance, Nomi Nkondlo, said the provincial government now needed to focus on an economic recovery plan.

“We remain concerned with the government’s low spending towards economic recovery interventions. This is the same party which from Level 5 were calling for opening the economy but fail dismally to put the money where their mouth is,” she said after the briefing.

In addition to the spending allocations, Maynier also announced the “Procurement Disclosure Report” – an initiative to make public regular and standardised reports on the procurement of personal protective equipment in the Western Cape. These reports would be monthly, quarterly and annually, he said.

“We will begin by releasing information about the name of the department, a description of the item, the name of the supplier, the unit price per item and the total price in relation to procurement of personal protective equipment in the Western Cape,” said the MEC. DM

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