MILLIONS OWED BY EASTERN CAPE GOVERNMENT TO MUNICIPALITIES

Municipalities are owed at least R136 million by provincial departments. If immediate payment is not made this will cause further cutting back of municipal services.

In response to a parliamentary question from me to the MEC for Local Government of 11 May 2010 the full amount owed to municipalities is  R136,760 million. However, there is a discrepancy, as the attached schedule to the answer from the MEC indicates that an amount of R137,188 million is owed, with Education owing R40,013 million, Public Works R56, 817 million and Health R28, 231 million being the main culprits.

The interest owed as a result of this debt amounts to R6, 826 million — clearly a case of fruitless and wasteful expenditure!

This non-payment can cause repeated over expenditure of departmental budgets. With local government in a state of dysfunctional collapse in this ANC lead province, every effort to assist municipalities with greater funding and capacity remains a priority. This money could be used to build more clinics, supply better roads, build and fix leaking pipes and improve sewerage services to many communities.

Thus the tardy attitude by provincial departments to not pay over these monies causes even greater hardship to already financially cash strapped municipalities in the province.

Despite this and in response to a further question posed regarding liability for the wasteful expenditure, the answer received from the MEC was that “it is incumbent upon the affected department to institute disciplinary proceeding against the officials responsible for causing the delay in payment”.

Quite clearly there is no plan to institute disciplinary action against errant officials in this regard.

On 23 March 2010 I put a motion to the Legislature asking for all outstanding monies owed by provincial departments to be paid as soon as possible.

Despite undertakings in reply to the motion from the MEC that various processes are in place to recoup this astronomical amount of money owed, the current non collection and slow payment of this money further undermines future financial spending for service delivery by these municipalities.

The lack of political will to collect this huge debt going back as far as 2009 shows the incapacity by this provincial government to lead the province and to govern effectively and undertake basic functions like paying accounts owed to municipalities.

As part of the Democratic Alliance Agenda for Accountability, I have written to the Premier seeking answers from her as to when all the outstanding money due to municipalities will be settled.

For more information please contact Dacre Haddon on 079 694 3788.