USE OF R10M FOR FUNCTIONS UNDER FIRE

Cupido said it was “a sad state of affairs when the department can’t help an iconic facility such as Bayworld but sees fit to spend millions on cooldrinks or bottled water at up to four times their cost without blinking”.

THE Eastern Cape Sport, Recreation, Arts and Culture Department has spent nearly R10-million on workshops and functions over the past two years – money that could have gone a long way towards aiding the ailing Bayworld complex, which recently was forced to close down its once iconic Oceanarium.

Replying to a written question from John Cupido (DA), MEC Xoliswa Tom revealed more than R5.8-million had been spent on workshops and functions since April 1 last year. In addition, more than R4-million was spent on this in the 2009/10 financial year.

Of the nearly R10-million spent in the last two years, R1.2-million went to East London’s posh Regent Hotel and International Conference Centre. R413 250 was also spent on a sports summit in February this year.

Tom disclosed that R15 was charged for a 500ml can of cooldrink at the hotel and R12 for still water.

Cupido said it was “a sad state of affairs when the department can’t help an iconic facility such as Bayworld but sees fit to spend millions on cooldrinks or bottled water at up to four times their cost without blinking”.

He said the DA had received information that the cost for a can of Coke had been seen as high as R25 and bottled water at R23 at some venues where events were held.

He said anyone who had attended a government workshop or event would agree “the majority bring no benefit or sustainable outcomes”.

Further, he said, most of the workshops and events could have been held at facilities owned by the departments “at no cost or a fraction of the cost”.

Cupido said there was also the cost of items like caps and golf shirts “that usually get dished out at these events”.

“At a time like this when money is tight, departments should all be seeking ways to cut unnecessary spending. The department needs to reassess its spending on events and use government facilities available to them at no cost.”

Tom revealed 13 events were held at the Regent Hotel over the past two years. The hotel is part of the complex that includes the International Conference Centre on East London’s beachfront. Among the events held at the hotel were: A Human Rights launch at a cost of R63 500; Judicial Records indaba at a cost of R42 739; Conditional Grant workshop costing R38 075; Oral history training costing R18 550; and A Provincial Business Planning workshop that cost R45 493.

Tom stressed the nearly R10-million spent had been at hotels and conference centres across the province and were not limited to the Regent.