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Depts warned on spending

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The process of determining trade-offs and reprioritisation could not be seen to be the responsibility of provincial Treasury

WARNING: The MEC for Finance, Mac Jack, and the Premier of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas, at yesterdays budget lekgotla in Kimberley. Picture: Supplied

THE PREMIER of the Northern Cape, Sylvia Lucas, has expressed concern about growing unauthorised expenditure by provincial departments, who “continue to spend money they don’t have”.

Lucas was addressing the budget lekgotla in Kimberley, where she indicated that she was concerned that the provincial government continued to spend money “which we don’t have.”

“We should appreciate that there is no money and no new money will come into our system. What we have, should be used with proper care. However, we appreciate the effort put in place by provincial treasury to assist departments such as Health, Education and Local Government to turn things around,” Lucas said.

Her sentiments were echoed by the MEC for Finance, Economic Development and Tourism, Mac Jack, who stated that “drastic measures” should be employed “to tackle the growing unauthorised expenditure of the Province”.

“We are, however, encouraged by the fact that the departments of Education and Sport, Arts and Culture are reporting good progress in this regard and other departments are following suit, which will drastically improve the picture for 2019,” Jack said.

He added that the fiscal measures adopted by the executive council needed to be maintained into the medium-term period to optimise full value and impact.

“One of these measures was to apply strict conditions on the equitable share unspent funds presiding from the previous financial year. The moratorium (for jobs) has become a contentious issue and we need to improve our approval processes to deal with the red tape, especially for those departments with adequate resources to appoint additional personnel,” Jack stated.

Jack added that the process of determining trade-offs and reprioritisation could not be seen to be the responsibility of provincial Treasury but an approach that is premised on the interests of the Province rather than the individual portfolios.

“This posture and broad understanding will assist us greatly as we move towards the final stages of the budget process,” he said.

Jack further indicated that the Budget Council had endorsed a new grant which would be added to the system for the roll-out of the Sanitary Dignity project for the provision of free sanitary towels in the 2019 medium-term expenditure framework .

“The Infrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme (IDIP), which was introduced 10 years ago to improve delivery of infrastructure across the country, is coming to an end and in order to sustain this programme and improve the delivery of infrastructure, resources will be made available through the Provincial Equitable Share (PES) to be allocated in the provincial Treasuries,” Jack said.

He indicated that “most of the problems” would not be solved by adding resources into the system.

“We expect HODs to manage and present options about how some of these problems can be resolved, but we will not throw money into every problem and disregard consequences, symptoms and the origin of these problems,” Jack concluded.

Yesterday’s budget lekgotla precedes the extended budget lekgotla which will take place today and the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement by the Minister of Finance, Tito Mboweni, tomorrow.