SPEECH NOTES BY BOBBY STEVENSON, DA LEGISLATURE LEADER AND SPOKESPERSON ON FINANCE SPEAKING ON THE EASTERN CAPE FINANCE BILL

This bill is based on the recommendations of this House that was approved by SCOPA in June of this year.

Although the Provincial Revenue Fund also has sufficient funds to cover the unauthorised expenditure contained in this Bill for 2007/8 through to 2009/10, this Bill must not be seen as a cure for the Province’s financial ill discipline.

Rather this Bill must be seen as the outcome of such problems. It is a reflection on the poor state of control when it comes to Provincial finances.

Although we welcome the fact that only R1.1 out of the reported R1.9 billion is recommended for funding in terms of the Bill before us today, it still remains far too high. What it means is that funds are paid out where there is no budget for those funds. The big culprits in this finance bill are Health at R183 million and Education at R862 million. This is largely as a result of over expenditure on personnel mainly due to under budgeting for occupational specific dispensation adjustments in the budget.

This Province needs to adopt a tough stand. We can’t simply pay out money for personnel costs when the money is not there and then come to SCOPA and expect us to authorise those payments and then expect everyone to simply approve this Bill in the house.

This method of dealing with unauthorised expenditure, is becoming all too common. The question I would like to ask the MEC – Is all unauthorised expenditure reported to the Executive Authority in this Province as it should be? Are there proper monitoring and controls in place to ensure that this reporting takes place and when it does, what action is taken immediately to deal with the situation?

What is not included in this report is the R874 million that was paid out in the 2009/10 year by the Health Department for the HROPT payments (Human resources operational task team). The investigation into this has not yet been finalised.

In June this house passed a recommendation that the office of the Premier and the Provincial Treasury must ensure that the investigation is finalised as soon as possible. How far are we in this investigation and when will it be finalised? The payment of R874 million in backpay without the funds being present to do so, is a very very serious matter.

The other question I would like to ask the MEC is that in the SCOPA recommendations, which the house agreed to, disciplinary action needs to be taken against officials in the following departments – Health, Education, Agriculture, Local Government and Sports Arts and Culture for unauthorised expenditure. What progress has been made with this recommendation for disciplinary action? Sifuna iimpendulo.

MEC’s must prepare themselves for answers because my colleagues and I will be taking this matter up when we have a chance to question you under departmental votes.

Unauthorised expenditure is sometimes inevitable but in most cases it can be avoided if we apply sound financial management. MEC we cannot allow the situation to continue where money is paid out for personnel costs when that money is simply not there.

This Province ends up engaging in smoke and mirrors accounting. Where we overspend on personnel, and underspend on capital. The books might balance but service delivery becomes imbalanced. Strong leadership is needed in this Province to turn the situation around. That’s why we are here. Leaders must lead.

iinkokheli mazi kokhele. The Democratic Alliance supports this Bill.