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While the IFP appreciates the ANC's continued commitment to solving KwaZulu-Natal's socio-economic challenges, the Official Opposition does not believe poverty and unemployment can be eliminated fast enough by excessive regulation and patronage through government control of public resources.
"The MEC for Finance has gone out of her way to put a new spin on the ANC's traditional approach of government through control and patronage. Public employment schemes are still given more encouragement than the job-creating private sector despite lip service being paid to the contrary," said Leader of the Official Opposition in KwaZulu-Natal Dr Bonginkosi Buthelezi.
The ANC seems oblivious to the fact that the recession has decimated KwaZulu-Natal's private sector employment while the province's public sector continued to grow. "While the private sector has shed 220 000 jobs since the onset of the recession, public service jobs have continued to add expenditure to the overspent fiscus despite the moratorium on the filling of non-critical posts," said Dr Buthelezi.
The IFP was hoping for a radical review of funding for the money-gobbling public entities such as the KwaZulu-Natal Growth Fund which have little or nothing to show for the millions of rands poured into them. "The MEC for Finance would have given substance to job creation by redirecting public funds to small businesses as incentives for every new worker hired," said Dr Buthelezi.
The IFP remains supportive of the provincial government's efforts to stabilise KwaZulu-Natal's wobbly public finances. "It is encouraging that the province is budgeting for a surplus but we are sceptical about the possibility of achieving it given anticipated unfunded mandates, runaway wage agreements and inherent inefficiencies within the provincial government," said Dr Buthelezi.
The IFP remains to be sceptical of the value-for-money generated out of the provincial government's public participation programmes. "The planned pre-budget road shows are another old hat rehashed for the 2010/2011 budget. The public have previously been encouraged to give input on the province's challenges which are well-documented and government priorities that have been cynically formulated beforehand," said Dr Buthelezi.
The IFP applauds the planned extension of HIV/Aids programmes as well as the renewed commitment to improving basic education and skills development. "We finally hope to see an improvement in the performance of the Departments of Education and Health that have been receiving growing budget allocations but continued to produce substandard results," said Dr Buthelezi.
The IFP will respond comprehensively to the 2010/2011 provincial budget during the upcoming general budget debate and debates on departmental budgets in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature.