The R684-million Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation to the Eastern Cape Development Corporation (ECDC) by Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle on Thursday should be seen as a sign of public confidence in the financier’s effective use of public funds and assets, ECDC CEO Sitembele Mase has asserted.

Reacting to the 2014/15 Eastern Cape Budget Speech presentation, Mase said in a statement that, in the first year of the MTEF alone, the ECDC was allocated R336-million, of which R221-million would be funnelled into its social infrastructure programme, while the remaining R115-million would be set aside for yearly grant funding.

“From an ECDC perspective, this has been a smart and integrated budget that prioritises a balanced and diversified economy, which encourages linkages between the primary production and manufacturing sectors.

“It, therefore, demands the effective and efficient coordination of public efforts between State entities for improved economic growth, development and job creation,” he noted.

The corporation also viewed the allocation of the provincial budget as a sign of “its effective stewardship of public funds and assets as well as [the] turnaround of the institution”.

“Since 2008, the ECDC has boasted unqualified audit outcomes. The development financier intends to further improve its systems and processes for the effective use of public funds and assets. ECDC will thus work harder to improve its capacity to deliver,” said Mase.

The focus of the ECDC would now shift to the maintenance and renewal of existing social infrastructure, as well as improving “infrastructure functionality” in the social sector.

The social infrastructure programme would focus on providing running water, electricity, sanitation and ablution facilities, and would include the replacement of mud schools and the improvement of access to social infrastructure facilities within the district municipal areas.

It also included the refurbishment of hospitals.

The ECDC said this was aligned with government’s objective of improving access to social infrastructure to ensure the quality of life and services to the affected communities improved.

“The ECDC is, therefore, pleased that it has been put in [a] space where it will play a central role in bridging the inequality gap between rural and urban settlements.

“This social infrastructure programme should improve the quality of life of rural citizens and ensure that young people in these parts enjoy the same privileges as their urban counterparts. This is a challenging task that demands the recruitment of new skills and delivery capacity,” explained Mase.