WESTERN CAPE NEWS - “The Covid-19 pandemic facing South Africa requires a whole-of-government and whole-of-society response. That is why the provincial treasury, working together with all departments in the Western Cape government, is working hard to support a full-scale response to Covid-19.”
This was the message of David Maynier, Western Cape Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, at the start of Provincial Treasury’s presentation to the province’s parliamentary ad hoc committee on Covid-19.
“When I presented the 2020 budget in early March this year, we were only at the beginning of the Covid-19 crisis, with no known infections in the Western Cape. In my budget speech I noted that the Provincial Treasury had made provision for unanticipated events and that we stood ready to support the Health Department should Covid-19 reach the Western Cape,” Maynier said.
“We have done this to the best of our ability, but we could not have imagined the size and scale of what we would face, nor the implication for the provincial budget, which will require us to make deep budget cuts. We are currently projecting a R610-million in own revenue shortfall, at least a R3-billion provincial budget cut and expenditure demand, to fund the Covid-19 response, of at least R2,4-billion in the Western Cape.”
He added that, for now, Provincial Treasury is supporting key departments like Health, Social Development and Transport and Public Works to ensure that critical decisions about procurement of supplies are made as fast as possible, while still complying with National Treasury’s emergency procurement protocols.
To date, R1,14-billion has been committed towards Covid-19 related expenditure across the Western Cape government.
This includes, but is not limited to:
- R628-million to the Department of Health for personal protective equipment, laboratory tests, hospital beds and ventilators;
- R273-million to the Department of Education for personal protective equipment, digital infrared non-touch thermometers, sanitisers and cleaning materials;
- R168-million to the Department of Transport and Public Works to set up quarantine and isolation facilities, including the field hospital at the Cape Town International Convention Centre;
- R35-million to the Department of Social Development and R18-million to the Department of Education for an initial humanitarian response which has included provision on 50 000 food parcels; the re-initiation of school feeding schemes; and the delivery of 10 000 cooked meals per day for one month; and
- R16,2-million to the Department of Local Government in the form of a Local Government Support Grant to strengthen and support the current humanitarian initiatives within municipalities.
In addition to this, said Maynier, Provincial Government is identifying and re-prioritising all non-essential expenditure across government towards the immediate needs in the departments of Health and Social Development.
“We are committed to ensuring that our healthcare workers and other frontline staff across the Western Cape receive adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).” They are also working to ensure that funding is available to scale up acute and ICU bed facilities, as well as quarantine and isolation facilities in the province.
They engage with National Treasury weekly, both in technical committees, and with Minister Tito Mboweni, to remain aligned with National Government’s response. This week they kicked off the budget process towards a mid-year adjustments budget in response to the Covid-19 crisis, which will follow the adjustment budget that National Treasury will table in June.
“In closing, Covid-19 will require continued efforts by all role players to overcome the pandemic, and Provincial Treasury continues to work hard to ensure that our fiscal response is aligned to support such efforts in every way possible,” said Maynier.
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