PROVINCIAL MINI BUDGET

Western Cape reveals billion-rand plan to counter Covid-19 resurgence

By Suné Payne 27 November 2020

Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister David Maynier said there is money available in key departments to help fight a resurgence of coronavirus in the province. (Photo: Flickr / Democratic Alliance)

With the spike in Covid-19 cases in parts of the province, the provincial treasury has made available funds from two key frontline departments to stand ready for the revival of the virus.

Western Cape provincial treasury says it is ready to support frontline departments as the province experiences a resurgence of Covid-19. Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister David Maynier said there is money available in key departments to help fight a resurgence of coronavirus in the province. 

On Thursday 26 November, Maynier delivered the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement in a hybrid sitting of the Western Cape provincial parliament, where he labelled the budget as a “Budget to Bounce Back”, following recovery efforts stemming from the Covid-19 economic downturn. The focus of Maynier’s speech was on two major issues: a resurgence of Covid-19 and the support for economic recovery in the province. 

‘Ready to support frontline departments’ 

Last week, Western Cape Premier Alan Winde issued a “hotspot” warning over the rising confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Garden Route towns of George, Knysna and Plettenberg Bay. This increase was attributed to the school holidays, which had occurred in the weeks preceding. However, Winde issued another warning: cases were not only rising in the Garden Route but also within the Cape metro. 

Covid-19 on a surge in Cape Town and Garden Route, warns Western Cape premier

Maynier, in his speech on Thursday, stressed the province could not afford another hard lockdown, stating “so we are also prepared and stand ready to support frontline departments to respond to the resurgence of the Covid-19 pandemic in the Western Cape”.

Maynier said R227-million from the budget of the health department and R200-million from the Transport and Public Works Department budget had been made available for the Covid-19 resurgence. An additional R864-million from the provincial reserves can be used if needed to fight the new resurgence in cases, said Maynier. 

All of the help, Maynier said, “is immediately available”. 

The two departments received the greatest financial allocations during the “emergency budget” tabled in July 2020. The Health Department received R1.8-billion for testing, screening and procurement of personal protective equipment. The Transport and Public Works Department received R400-million for the creation of quarantine and isolation facilities. 

Western Cape unveils ‘Covid-19 budget’

‘R1.4-billion support package for jobs, for safety and for wellbeing’

But the resurgence was not the only focus of the day — support for the Western Cape’s economic recovery in a post-Covid-19 world was also highlighted. 

“We have mobilised a combined additional R1.4-billion support package for jobs, for safety and for wellbeing in this financial year, so that we can bounce back in the Western Cape,” said Maynier before adding, “we have done so because when people have jobs, people have dignity and when people have dignity people have hope.” 

This is a sentiment shared by Winde, who discussed the need for a provincial economic recovery plan during a special address to the Western Cape provincial parliament earlier in October. 

Premier Alan Winde fleshes out Western Cape’s economic recovery plan

Maynier said treasury made the following budget allocations worth R1.4-billion: 

  • R115.9-million to support small business through basic maintenance and repairs of infrastructure at Western Cape schools. 
  • R12-million goes to support small businesses hit hard by Covid-19.
  • R8.5-million to support businesses in the wine industry affected by Covid-19. 
  • R36.5-million is allocated to the fencing of schools to “keep our children safe”, said Maynier.
  • R20-million is allocated to the employment of young people who will act as safety ambassadors to drive violence prevention programmes.
  • R4-million will be allocated to employ young people “to support the development of literacy and numeracy at early childhood development centres in the Western Cape”, said Maynier. 

In addition to these allocations, Maynier said national government is also adding its support in the province’s economic recovery efforts. This includes: 

  • R814.2-million to employ teaching and general assistants at schools.
  • R61.2-million to employ people to work on maintaining roads.
  • R53-million to supplement the salaries of employees of early childhood development centres.
  • R51.2-million for food relief.
  • R29.1-million to employ community health workers in the province.

Closing his speech, Maynier said, “we all have to play our part, and so please wear your mask, sanitise, practise social distancing and stay home if you’re sick”. 

Budget adjustments will be deliberated among parliamentarians on Friday, 27 November. DM

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