R61.6bn for education and health

Nessie Knight Hospital in Qumbu
Nessie Knight Hospital in Qumbu
Image: File

The departments of education and health once again received the lion's share of the 2019-20 Eastern Cape budget.

The departments were allocated a combined R61.6bn, which is 75% of the R82.2bn provincial budget.

The department of education received R36.3bn in the 2019-20 financial year and R114.4bn over the medium term expenditure framework (MTEF).

The troubled department of health has been allocated the second biggest budget – R25.2bn in the 2019-20 financial year and R79.7bn over the MTEF.

The department has been facing a number of medico-legal claims with some of them fraudulent.

The Dispatch has recently reported on how the claims almost crippled the department and led to the recent arrest of lawyer Zuko Nonxuba.

In his budget speech, finance MEC Oscar Mabuyane raised major concerns over the amount of these claims and how coffers had been looted.

“As we speak, in the 2018-19 financial year, R620m that should benefit our communities has been paid to settle claims benefitting a few individuals who are even defrauded by their unscrupulous lawyers. We are dealing with these evil acts,” he said.

The department of education’s school nutrition programme received a major boost after being allocated R1.3bn in the 2019-20 financial year and R4.1bn over the MTEF.

It provides meals for 1.6 million pupils in more than 5,000 schools.

“Not only are learners able to concentrate in class, we are also advised that there is improvement in school attendance.

“In essence, the government was correct to implement this programme in 1994,” Nonxuba said.

The scholar transport programme is also set to receive R570m in the 2019-20 financial year and R1.8bn over the MTEF. “This is done to make sure that 81,000 learners are transported to school every day.”