WESTERN CAPE NEWS - On Friday, the Western Cape provincial parliament approved the 2020 budget adjustment, tabled by Finance and Economic Opportunities Minister, David Maynier.
This R3.05 billion budget is the first step in financing our spending in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in the province, and the associated impact that the lockdown has had on residents and businesses.
Over the past week, my cabinet members and I delivered the budget speeches for our respective departments, detailing the massive amount of work that has been done in just a short space of time in order to respond effectively and appropriately to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This response has been a whole of government response, with every single department contributing. Some of our departments also underwent significant budget cuts, surrendering funds to help this province finance the expenditure required.
Department of the Premier:
The Department of the Premier provides administrative support across the Western Cape Government, and has, over the course of our response, provided strategic leadership to inform our decision making and response.
- The Department has financed a major educational communications campaign, which has reached millions across the province using radio, print, social media, posters, flyers, loud hailing and taxi decals to give residents the information they need to keep themselves and their families safe, and to effect long-term behaviour change.
- The Department also allocated over R11 million to upgrade the provincial call centre to cope with the huge demand for humanitarian relief during the lockdown period. During this time, the call centre received an average of 10 000 calls per day. The call centre is now also assisting in our tracking and tracing efforts.
The Department of Health received the biggest budget increase of R1.6 billion which has been distributed as follows:
- We have spent R424 million in the four months since the pandemic started and have budgeted a total of R 1 billion for PPE.
- We have budgeted for 54 testing units at a cost of R93 million and budged for 850,000 COVID-19 tests.
- We built the 850 bed CTICC Hospital of Hope, 330 bed Brakengate hospital, and have partnered with MSF on the 60 bed Thusong Centre facility in Khayelitsha. We have budgeted R244 million for the establishment of the field hospitals, spent R74 million on medical equipment with an additional R130 million on order. A further 150 beds will be made available at the Sonstraal facility in Paarl.
- We have hired 620 workers at an additional cost of R23 million per month.
- We have invested internally within the provincial hospital platform in an additional 122 critical beds, 654 acute care beds and 82 palliative care beds.
- We have secured access to private sector hospital beds and EMS services should the need arise. Fortunately, with 4 admissions to date the demand for private beds has been significantly less than the forecasts.
Transport and Public Works:
The Department of Transport and Public Works has played a significant role in our response sourcing, hiring and fitting out venues and facilities to be used for quarantine and isolation.
- R365m has been allocated towards activating 4672 quarantine and isolation beds in 15 government and 29 private fully-functioning facilities across the province. These facilities were fully supported by all the necessary services.
- A further 9670 beds are ready to be activated in 14 government and 168 private facilities in the Western Cape should the need arise.
- R44 million has also been allocated to the Red Dot taxi service, which transports healthcare workers to and from work, and is also used to transport residents to Q and I facilities.
The Department of Education has invested significantly in the materials required so that learners could return to school safely. In addition, the Western Cape was the only province to continue feeding learners during the lockdown period.
- R18 million was allocated to an emergency school feeding scheme, which provided over 1 million meals to learners during the first month of the lockdown-providing essential meals to children while schools were close.
- We provided every school with liquid soap and hand sanitiser, cleaning and disinfecting chemicals, two masks for every learner and WCED staff member, and digital temperature scanners for the simple screening process that every staff member and learner must undergo every day. We budgeted R310 million for this, which is reflected in this adjustment budget, as it had to be taken from other crucial programmes in our department, mainly infrastructure, but the costs have already exceeded R400 million.
- In addition, schools have to be decontaminated when a positive case at a school is identified. This costs an average of R3 500 each time. So, an additional R21 million has been set aside for this purpose – over and above the cost of the health and safety supplies for schools.
The Department of Social Development has played an important role in our humanitarian response at this time, providing food, support services to old homes and ECD’s, while continuing to offer their regular social support services.
- Over R25 million in emergency funding was allocated to food relief, including the distribution of 50 000 food parcels across the province, and the provision of cooked meals.
- Over R 10 million has been allocated for operational capacity to support over 300 old aged homes in the province in the fight against COVID-19.
- R12.9 million has been allocated for PPE for old aged homes, homes for the disabled, partial care facilities and early childhood development centres.
Economic Development and Tourism:
The Department has provided significant advice and support to businesses across the province since the start of the pandemic and the introduction of the phased lockdown regulations.
- An amount of R14 million has been allocated which includes:
-R3 million to provide professional occupational health and safety support to small businesses.
-R9 million allocated to the SMME Covid-19 Relief and Recovery Fund to support small businesses.
-R2 million for the screening of passengers at the George Airport.
- An additional R17.93 million has been allocated to support small businesses who have been negatively impacted by Covid-19.
- The Department has also shifted R2 million to a Covid-19 small business supplier developer programme which will support 20 small businesses manufacturing cloth masks, hand sanitisers and dispensers, or those providing disinfecting services so they can increase capacity.
- An additional R2 million has been shifted to a Community Economic Recovery Project to stimulate the informal sector economy by distributing electronic vouchers to 150 community kitchens who can then redeem them for essential goods at local spaza shops.
- The Tourism Product Development Fund commits a total of R5 million to support new or existing tourism products and experiences in the Western Cape.
The Department of Community Safety has played an important role in monitoring civil compliance in our hotspot areas in order to bring about behaviour change.
- They have deployed 60 Chrysalis graduates and 15 NHW structures at places of gatherings.
- Deployed LEAP Officers in targeted Covid-19 hotspot areas to support the SAPS, SANDF, law enforcement, metro police and traffic officers.
- Of the R8.3 million allocation received from the provincial Treasury for COVID-19 related expenditure, R6.8 million has been allocated to Neighbourhood Watches, and R1,5 million will be used towards operational costs, which include PPE.
- The Department also rolled out of a communication strategy involving radio, billboards, local newspapers, posters and social media platforms to create positive Covid-19 related behaviour change.
Despite the Department of Agriculture surrendering funds from their allocation, and seeing significant cuts in grant allocations from the national government, they have contributed towards food security, and safety in the agricultural sector.
- The Department has established more than 1300 food gardens as part of the One Home, One Garden campaign which will empower households to produce their own food and to sell the surplus, contributing to long term food security in communities.
- They have distributed masks to agri-workers in the province and partnered with Distell to distribute alcohol-based sanitisers.
Departments of Cultural Affairs and Sport:
The nationwide lockdown resulted in significant pressure on the sports, arts and cultural sectors in the province, as events had to be cancelled. The Department re-prioritised over R7 million in funding in order to provide relief to these industries, which contribute significantly to job creation in the province.
- In the Arts, Culture and Heritage sector, relief, in the form of event cancellation support for venues, events, and artists was made available. The Department also developed relief for older artists and cultural practitioners who are at a higher risk should they contract COVID-19.
- The arts, culture and heritage relief fund received 1058 applications in total, with 948 adjudicated after duplications and unrelated applications were removed. There were a total of 691 (73%) successful applicants. Funding allocations are currently in progress.
- A similar relief fund was established for sports and recreation- receiving 108 applications from federations on behalf of their coaches, athletes and officials. We are pleased that all of the successful applicants have received their funding.
- The Department of Human Settlements interventions will be more long-term due to the nature of their work.
- In spite of shrinking allocations from the national government which will significantly impact this province’s ability to provide housing, the Department remains committed to de-densification and reblocking projects in Dunoon, Greater Kosovo and Ithemba in order to reduce the risks associated with high density living in these spaces.
- The Department is currently still waiting on National Minister of Public Works Patricia de Lille to hand over power of attorney (POA) to the Housing Development Agency (HDA), so that relevant statutory processes can commence on the Ithemba land.
The Department of Local Government has ably led our disaster response during the pandemic, and has assisted local municipalities throughout the lockdown period.
- R17.8 million was allocated to the Department for an emergency food relief programme- with funding allocated to local municipalities to support their food relief efforts.
- R27 million has been allocated for the coordination and implementation of the response to the pandemic in the province’s hotspots.
Coronavirus infection update for the Western Cape
As of 13:00 on 2 August, the Western Cape has 10 630 active cases of COVID-19, with a total of 94 691 confirmed cases and 80 956 recoveries.
The Western Cape has recorded an additional 35 deaths, bringing the total number of COVID-19 related deaths in the province to 3 105. We send our condolences to their family and friends at this time.
'We bring you the latest Garden Route, Hessequa, Karoo news'