The Western Cape Provincial Government released their Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Thursday 26 November saying that it presents a platform upon which the province can “bounce back” from the catastrophic economic and social impact of COVID-19 in 2020. 

Provincial Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities, David Maynier, delivered the budget to the provincial parliament, and was optimistic about the potential rewards the plan is capable of reaping.

Western Cape aiming to ‘bounce back’

Maynier said that the provincial government expects to spend R71.3 billion in 2021/22, R72.5 billion in 2022/23 and R73 billion in 2023/24 over the medium term, with Premier Alan Winde’s previously outlined focus areas – jobs, safety and well-being – remaining the primary areas this investment will be targeted towards. 

“I am pleased to announce that we have mobilised an combined R1.4 billion support package for “Jobs”, for “Safety” and for “Well-being” in this financial year, so that we can bounce back in the Western Cape,” said Maynier. “

He said that the road to recovery, while highly achievable, will be difficult due to budget constraints and said that “because of that we will have to make difficult decisions in the Western Cape”.

“However, we can and we will do whatever it takes to ensure that every single person, no matter who they are, or where they come from, could live a life of dignity, because the life of every person matters in the Western Cape,” he said.

Job creation to be accelerated through additional funding  

In July, Provincial government warned that more than 167 000 jobs and R720 million worth of revenue will be lost in the Western Cape province during 2020 as a result of the pandemic and subsequent hard lockdown. The MTBPS outlines the following allowances for adding to and supporting the job market:

  • An additional R155.9 million to support small businesses by accelerating basic maintenance and repair of infrastructure at schools in the Western Cape.
  • An additional R12 million to support small businesses, which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Western Cape.
  • An additional R8.5 million to support businesses in the wine industry, which have been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic in the Western Cape.

Safety a priority in gang-ridden province  

In terms of enhancing the province’s safety and security capabilities, the MTBPS provides the following funding:

  • An additional R36.5 million to keep our children safe by accelerating the fencing of schools in the Western Cape.
  • An additional R20 million to appoint young people as “safety ambassadors” to drive violence prevention interventions in the Western Cape.
  • An additional R15 million to improve the collection of data at emergency centres to support evidence-based violence prevention in the Western Cape.

The western Cape is currently in the midst of rampant gang  violence, with communities constantly under threat of violence from organised crime groups and taxi associations. 

The City of Cape Town, along with the provincial safety and security department, have deployed hundreds more officers to patrol hotspot areas, but as recently as Tuesday a mass shooting occurred in the middle of the city centre, in which a gunman fired shots indiscriminately, wounding seven people. 

Social support a focus area 

In terms of well-being, the provincial budget aims to empower those who are facing social difficulties stemming from rampant poverty by implementing the following fiscal measures:

  • Adding an additional R4 million to appoint young people to support the development of literacy and numeracy at early childhood development centres in the Western Cape.
  •  an additional R814.2 million to employ education assistants and general assistants at schools;
  • An additional R53 million to supplement the salaries of employees at early childhood development centres;
  • An additional R51.2 million to provide food relief to people who are hungry.

Western Cape ‘will do whatever it takes to recover’ 

He said that provincial departments are currently equipped with sustainable funding, with R227 million available on the health department’s budget, R200 million available on the transport and public works department’s budget; and R864 million available in the provincial reserves.

Maynier also voiced his encouragement over national government’s commitment  to  funding to support “Jobs”, “Safety” and “Wellbeing” in the Western Cape.

“We can, and we will, do whatever it takes to bounce back in the Western Cape,” he said in conclusion.