DURBAN – KwaZulu-Natal’s infrastructure budget has been boosted to provide an injection of funds into the provincial economy, finance MEC Belinda Scott said on Thursday.
Scott was tabling the 2019/20 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) at the Provincial Legislature in Pietermaritzburg. She said boosting infrastructure was one of the ways to address South Africa’s growth prospects and was in line with President Cyril Ramaphosa’s State of the Nation Address.
“The province is budgeting to spend R13.6 billion in 2019/20, R13.6 billion in 2020/21 and R14.4 billion in 2021/22 on various infrastructure projects,” said Scott.
This included both equitable share and conditional grant funded infrastructure.
“If we include the amount budgeted for infrastructure by Human Settlements where the asset, in the end, does not belong to government, the total infrastructure spend increases to R16.8 billion, R16.9 billion and R17.5 billion over the MTEF,” said Scott.
This was “a considerable injection of funds into the provincial economy,” she said.
Infrastructure budgets for the province’s transport, health and education departments were R23.7 billion, R6.3 billion and R7.6 billion over the 2019/20 MTEF, said Scott.
Besides upgrading of main and local roads, transport had also set a target of constructing 10 new pedestrian bridges and seven new major vehicle bridges.
“These structures will provide easier and safer access to schools, hospitals, clinics and other government facilities, while also allowing for improved economic activity. Areas where bridges will be built include Mdloti, Mfule, White uMfolozi and uPongola,” said Scott.
The provincial health department would be completing the regional 500-bed Dr. Pixley ka Isaka Seme Memorial Hospital with its infrastructure funding. R300 million was also allocated for the procurement of the equipment needed for the facility.
King Edward VIII Hospital, Hlabisa Hospital and Addington Hospital would together receive over R159 million for infrastructure improvements, with carry-throughs into the 2020/21 budget.
Schools set to receive major upgrades included Zululand’s Dingukwazi Secondary School (R90 million); Harry Gwala district’s Pholela Special School (R109 million for the continued construction of a new school) and Open Gate Special School in uMgungundlovu district, which would see R59 million spent on major upgrades.
Collingwood Primary School in Umlazi district would be getting a new school at a cost of R80 million.
Overall, education again received the largest slice of the provincial budget, taking 41.4% of the pie. “The budget allocation over the MTEF is R54 billion, R57.7 billion and R60.9 billion,” said Scott.
The largest share of the education department’s budget allocation was for personnel, she said.
Furthermore, KwaZulu-Natal’s no-fee learners currently constituted 75% of the population in public ordinary schools.
The National School Nutrition Programme provided nutritious meals to 2.3million learners in 5729 schools, said Scott.
“Projects relating to new schools, curriculum support classrooms, laboratories, multi-purpose classrooms, as well as electrification, sanitation and water will continue so that basic functionality can be achieved in all 6 175 schools,” said Scott.
The KZN health department took the second biggest slice of the budget pie, at 34.5%, followed by transport, at 8.3%.
– African News Agency (ANA)