Thapelo Lekabe

By Thapelo Lekabe

Senior Digital Journalist

Gauteng health dept to receive once-off R1.1bn for retention of staff fighting Covid-19

Gauteng e-Government MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko on Wednesday tabled the provincial government's budget for 2022/23.

Gauteng’s Department of e-Government has allocated a once-off amount of R1.1 billion to the provincial Department of Health until March next year.

This is for the retention of some existing staff who are assisting in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Gauteng budget

Gauteng e-Government MEC Nomantu Nkomo-Ralehoko announced this on Wednesday, during her tabling of the provincial government’s R153 billion budget for 2022/23 at the provincial legislature.

While the province had in recent weeks seen a significant decline in new Covid-19 cases recorded as well as a drop in the rates of hospitalisation, Nkomo-Ralehoko said the R1.1 billion would enable the Department of Health to keep some of the existing human resource capacity.

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The MEC said the department would receive an additional amount of R2.8 billion in the 2022/23 financial year, of which R1.1 billion would be for the retention of staff working in the fight against the pandemic.

“While we acknowledge that the pandemic is still in our midst, our response is driven by scientific evidence.

“Accordingly, in the 2022/23 financial year, it is expected that this additional amount will largely go towards resourcing the Gauteng Covid-19 response plan, together with off-setting other budgetary pressures,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

The MEC’s budget speech followed Gauteng Premier David Makhura’s State of the Province Address (Sopa), delivered two weeks ago at the provincial legislature.

Nkomo-Ralehoko said the tabled budget was under the backdrop of a very tight fiscal environment characterised by the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, the negative impact of last year’s July civil unrest, negative investor confidence and increasing levels of unemployment.

She said Gauteng’s economy, which contributes more than 35% to South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), was projected to grow by 2.2% in 2022 and 2.1% in 2023.

The budget expenditure priorities of the provincial government largely focused on the social sector – comprising health, education and social development – accounting for the largest share of the 2022/23 budget.

OHS practitioners

To address the risks to employees and patients, Nkomo-Ralehoko said matters of Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) would be resourced.

A total of R39.3 million would be made available towards the employment of OHS practitioners.

“These funds are specifically allocated towards protecting and promoting workers’ health, to sustain and improve their working capacity and ability, to contribute to the establishment and maintenance of a safe and healthy working environment,” she said.

“There is also funding allocated towards goods and services, in particular, consumable supplies and medical supplies, which items are at the core of healthcare, and which will ensure that the department is able to provide adequate healthcare.”

Budget allocations highlights

R400 million was set aside for the procurement of consumable supplies like personal protection equipment (PPE), R25 million for medical supplies, R28.9 million for the rental and hiring of equipment used to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The provincial Department of Education would receive an additional allocation of R156.8 million to revive technical schools in townships to ensure they offer a market-related curriculum that is aligned with the 4th Industrial Revolution.

R1.2 billion is for enhancing e-learning through ICT investment, R2.2 billion is for the appointment of additional educators to respond to the increase in the number of pupils.

R817.8 million was allocated to enable the education department to provide for PPE in public schools.

R12.2 billion was allocated for the 2022/23 financial year to the Department of Infrastructure Development for infrastructure projects.

Public sector wage bill

A total of R42.4 million was set aside to provincial departments to offset the public sector wage settlement that was previously not budgeted for.

“This is a once-off amount, and it must be borne in mind that the wage negotiation process is underway and expected to conclude in the course of the 2022/23 financial year,” Nkomo-Ralehoko said.

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