For the current adjusted budget, the Western Cape Department of Agriculture will delay appointments to ensure that unfunded salary increases do not stand in the way of the delivery of projects and services and continue to reach as many residents as possible.
This was the key message coming out of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture’s engagement with the Standing Committee on Agriculture, Environmental Affairs and Development Planning in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament today.
Conditional grants from the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) were cut by R11,065 million for the current (2023-2024) financial year.
Commenting on the engagement, Western Cape Minister of Agriculture, Ivan Meyer said, “The delayed appointment strategy is not sustainable beyond the current financial year which inevitably will lead to less budget for service delivery over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) and beyond. The reduction in conditional grants has a direct impact on service delivery towards support for new farmers, alien clearing and fencing projects which are all critical services for the agricultural sector and safety in the Western Cape.”
Western Cape Head of Agriculture, Dr Mogale Sebopetsa highlighted that the reduction in conditional grant funding which is the result of the country’s dire fiscal situation, means that the Department will have to reduce some service delivery over this period.
Dr Sebopetsa said, “We are currently working on planning towards this end to make the impact as small as possible for as short a period as possible. We are also trying our utmost to maintain our facilities such as research farms, albeit at a reduced level, in order not to close them, as reopening them in future will be unaffordable. Research provides us with an evidence-based approach to agricultural development. This is critical for the sustainability of the agricultural sector.”
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture also informed the Standing Committee that it has submitted a claim of R500 million to the national government for the repair of recent flood damage.
“We are fortunate that the Western Cape Government has allocated R5 million for the adjusted budget and a further R40 million the next financial year towards flood relief for affected farmers. We will continue to work with our commodity organisations to strengthen support to our farmers and to find ways of mitigating the impact of the national government’s unjust shifting of the civil service wage bill on provinces which hinders our ability to support our communities including the agricultural sector,” concluded Meyer.
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