07/03/2017 10:41 GMT | Updated 07/03/2017 11:43 GMT

Gauteng Finance MEC Creecy: We're Saving Millions By Cutting Costs And Wasteful Expenditure

Gauteng government
Gauteng Finance MEC Barbara Creecy

Gauteng put an extra R195 million in mental health care, after cutting R414 million from the catering, accommodation and corporate branding bills.

The province saved another R386 million by cutting interest on overdue accounts.

Gauteng MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy delivered her budget speech in the Gauteng Legislature on Tuesday and reiterated that cost savings strategies have never included cutting back on services.

"Every effort has been made to protect the budgets of Health, Education and Social Development," said Creecy.

She reaffirmed the provincial Treasury's commitment to support the Department of Health in implementing the recommendations of the Health Ombud's report. The Ombud report found that 94 psychiatric patients died after the Gauteng health authorities moved them from Life Esidimeni facilities to 27 unregistered NGOs in order to cut costs; the death toll subsequently went up to at least 100.

Creecy said the was now a budget of R893.8 million for mental health care services in the province, part of restoring public confidence in the Gauteng public health system.

"When the alternative dispute resolution process is complete, we will appropriate any necessary resources for the families of the victims of the Life Esidimeni Tragedy from the provincial revenue fund," said Creecy.

Gauteng's total budget for 2017/18 is R108 billion.

The big shares are: Health gets R40.2 billion, Education gets R40.8 billion and Social Development gets R4.4 billion.

"One in four South Africans live in Gauteng and this places great demands on social departments to meet the ever growing needs of our citizens. In times of fiscal consolidation at national level, we developed a Revenue Strategy, to raise R15.6 billion over the past two and half years to fund increasing demands primarily in education and health and social services," said Creecy.

The province will spend R43.7 billion on infrastructure over the medium term (the next three fiscal years), mostly on housing, with 31 mega housing projects underway.

"To ensure infrastructure budgets achieve their targets, funds have been allocated only to those projects that are 'shovel ready'," said Creecy.