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No operational budgets for new health facilities in NC

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Unauthorised and irregular expenditure is high in both provinces, and the committee asked about action plans to address this

Picture: Reuters

The non-availability of operational budgets for new health facilities in the Northern Cape has come under the spotlight by the Select Committee on Finance.

The parliamentary committee was briefed yesterday by National Treasury as well the Northern Cape and Limpopo provincial treasuries on the preliminary outcomes of 2017/18 provincial expenditures, as at May 31 2018.

During the briefing, it was pointed out by members of the Select Committee on Finance that the operationalisation of new health facilities presented challenges to the Northern Cape Health Department because of the non-availability of operational budgets.

The committee expressed the concern that these new facilities would become white elephants, as the department had failed to provide operational budgets for them.

Committee members also asked why government departments in the Province continually underspent their conditional grants, pointing out that failure to spend budget impacted on service delivery.

A report issued yesterday on behalf of the Chairperson of the Select Committee on Finance, Charl de Beer, stated that the committee had noted with the overall fiscal risk pertaining to education and health in both the Northern Cape and Limpopo, as well as the high accruals.

“Unauthorised and irregular expenditure is high in both provinces, and the committee asked about action plans to address this,” the report stated.

It was pointed out that in the Northern Cape, irregular expenditure was caused by high levels of non-compliance in supply-chain management within the departments of education and health.

“The committee agreed with the National Treasury that capacity enhancements, better planning and project execution skills should be sought by the departments to reduce underspending on certain items and on conditional grants.”

Committee members also felt that it was unacceptable for the Northern Cape to underspend on its conditional grant, year in and year out, and for departments to make continual applications for roll-overs.

The committee also called for consequence management for officials implicated in flouting expenditure rules and guidelines. It stated that it was unacceptable to appoint service providers to investigate irregular expenditure.

De Beer pointed out that non-compliance of the Public Financial Management Act was trespassing the law, and there had to be consequences. “If we can address public entities and departments to comply it is our responsibility as Members of Parliament to hold accounting officers to account.”