Gauteng’s finance and e-government MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko smiled a bit as she related her victory in convincing provincial departments to prioritise R7.9 billion to the fight against Covid-19, a move that raised her budget to R146.4 billion.
Nkomo-Ralehoko was at first irritable amid fierce debate about which language should be used during the tabling of her special budget. But her face began loosen up as she announced an increase of R4 billion from the R142.4 billion allocated in March. She thanked the departments that reprioritised their funds to strengthen the fight against Covid-19 and boost the economy.
Gauteng is the country’s epicentre of Covid-19 infections with more than 145,000 as of Wednesday night. The Covid allocation included R20 million for ward-based civic education to increase public awareness about the virus. But the MEC stressed that despite the prioritised budget allocations favouring anti-Covid-19 activities, there had to be a balance with economic needs so it did not impact negatively on the Growing Gauteng Together (GGT) 2030 plan.
“Our message is that we are still on track with the implementation of GGT 2030,” she said. She said R5.9 billion had been allocated to the Covid-19 response. It would be used to provide health infrastructure, including the refurbishment of facilities, building field hospitals and procuring necessary medical equipment.
It would also be spent on provision of personal protective equipment (PPE), oxygen and testing kits and hiring and remuneration of front-line health personnel. Education received R6.3 billion for Covid-19 related challenges.
“The R5.2 billion that has been reprioritised internally and R1.2 billion is new money, aimed at Covid-19 resourcing requirements outlined by the sector and which are a precondition to the resumption of schooling,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.
A sum of R88.9 million went to social development to fund aspects of the Covid-19 response that extend beyond normal responsibilities. These included shelters for the homeless. Nkomo-Ralehoko protected the investment in infrastructure for the 2020-21 financial year, which is crucial for job creation and boosting economic growth. This allocation was increased by 5.3% from the R11.6 billion announced in March to R12.2 billion.
“Infrastructure is a fundamental enabler towards the delivery of services, creation of sustainable job opportunities and economic growth,” she added.
“The increase is driven by the Covid-19 infrastructure requirements in health, where the budget for infrastructure has more than doubled from R2 billion to R4.2 billion,” she said.
Among other measures aimed at boosting the economy amid the pandemic, Nkomo-Ralehoko gave an additional budget allocation of R250 million to support small, medium and micro enterprises, including township economic development.
An amount of R28.3 million was offered to the department of sports, arts, culture and recreation relief fund; and R14 million for the Tshwane Automotive Special Economic Zone.