As a build up to the provincial budget presentation on 12 March 2013, MEC for Finance, Ina Cronjé trekked to the tourist-friendly spot of Okhahlamba, famously known as Drakensberg to discuss and solicit views of the business people and communities on the budget.
Cronjé was joined by the Mayor of Okhahlamba Municipality, Cllr David Thulani Sibeko as well as his councillors. The objective of the budget outreach is to explain the budget process and get business and communities involved in the provincial budgetary processes. Okhahlamba is one of the many municipalities that MEC Cronje has visited with a similar mission.
Addressing business people, Head of Treasury, Simiso Magagula said "We want you to know that the budget matters are as important to you as they are to you, and the province has come out of an overdraft to a positive cash position of over R4 billion. This indicates that your money is in good hands.
"The province of KwaZulu-Natal will experience a cut in the equitable share from the national government because of the census results indicating that KwaZulu-Natal now has the less number of people than before, and this will impact on the financial allocations to departments. We therefore need to know that our spending will be controlled to ensure that we still manage to deliver services to the people as we have been doing," he said.
Cronjé said I want to put a question to business people: "In your businesses, what are you doing to employ more people without killing your business?" We want to find more creative and productive ways of ensuring a balanced economic growth, infrastructural development while ensuring that the money is spent wisely. She said government must deliver more services, more efficiently, with less money and still get value for money.
Sibeko said: "The condition of the national road, R74 which starts from the Free State into KwaZulu-Natal, is in a bad condition and has subsequently affected business growth and development in the area of Okhahlamba. We have reported this road to the Department of Transport and we expect something to be done about it speedily because it affects the quality of life of the locals here."
"Despite other challenges such as the availability of water, I hope that the people of Okhahlamba will appreciate this opportunity to hear and contribute in the budgetary process," he said.
Rosemary Kellen of Champagne Valley said the R74 national road is in horrible shape and because of that many people from Johannesburg prefer to drive straight to Durban and ignore Drakensburg.
"Our challenge is that this affects the tourist flow and other businesses in the area. As a result, some businesses have closed down and this still threatens the life of many businesses in the area. We would like this road to be top priority for government". Other problems cited included land of accessible agricultural land and water.
Issued by: KwaZulu-Natal Provincial Treasury