THE Eastern Cape Education Department had spent just 8.5% of its R1.3-billion capital budget by the end of the first quarter of the current financial year.

In the last financial year the department only spent 33% of its capital budget.

According to figures released by National Treasury the under-expenditure is the lowest of all the provinces, while the provincial average stands at 23.9%.

DA caucus leader in the Bhisho Legislature Bobby Stevenson said yesterday it was clear infighting over who was in charge of Education was “crippling the department”.

The figures show the department spent 25.7% of its total budget of R24.6-billion, despite the underspending on the capital budget.

Stevenson said this indicated the department would once again overspend.

He said spending patterns on Health were also of concern and predicted the department would overspend on personnel.

Spending on Human Settlements has also been tardy with the Eastern Cape having spent just 16.6% of its budget by the end of the first quarter, the third lowest of all the provinces. In addition only 13.7% or R299.3-million of the R2.2-billion allocated for the Human Settlements Grant had been allocated.

That situation may well be exacerbated by the fact Nelson Mandela Bay will probably have to return part of the R523-million it has been allocated by province because it does not have the funds to service the sites required.

As far as personnel expenditure in general is concerned, the Eastern Cape has spent 24.7% of its budget which is the second highest of the nine provinces while it languishes at the bottom of the list alongside the Western Cape with only 15.8% of its total capital budget spent.

One bright point is that the Eastern Cape is well over target with the collection of revenue – funds generated from within the province from, for example, motor vehicle licence fees and gambling taxes.

By the end of the first quarter the Eastern Cape had collected 32.4% of the R668-million it hopes to pocket by the end of the financial year.