Business Day, 16 October 2002, DA Warns of Effect HIV/Aids Will Have On Projects

THE Democratic Alliance (DA) warned the Gauteng government yesterday that the looming welfare burden as a result of HIV/AIDS posed a serious threat to two of the province's flagship projects.

These are the economic development initiative Blue IQ and the proposed high-speed train link between Johannesburg and Pretoria, the Gautrain.

Speaking to Business Day after the release of a DA-commissioned study into the effect of HIV/AIDS on budget priorities in Gauteng, DA health spokesman Jack Bloom said that the party's research indicated an urgent need for Gauteng to revise its budget allocations.

"It (requires) a delicate trade off between alleviating human suffering while still investing for economic growth," he said.

The DA study painted a grim picture of the strain that HIV/AIDS would place on the province's welfare, education and health departments.

Maternal AIDS orphans (children under 18 who had lost their mother to AIDS) were predicted to rise from 39500 this year to 245000 in 2010.

The DA said foster care grants for AIDS orphans would cost about R1,5bn by 2010, spending which would erode Gauteng's budget for capital projects.

Bloom said Gauteng's capital budget for 2002-03 was R3,35bn; R1,45bn was allocated to special projects, which included a R744m budget for Blue IQ.