BHISHO SINGS CAPITAL BUDGET BLUES: THE HERALD

DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said the province’s poor performance on budget spending had a negative effect on the lives of poor people who were desperate for better education and healthcare services.

THE embattled Eastern Cape Department of Education spent a paltry 43.9% of its funds budgeted for capital expenditure – the lowest of all the provinces – during the 2010/11 financial year, according to a report released by the national Treasury.

And at 163%, the Treasury’s fourth quarter figures released last week ranked Gauteng as the highest in terms of education capital expenditure.

Overall, the Eastern Cape only spent 65.3% of its capital budget. The Western Cape spent 97.9% of its capital budget, followed by Limpopo at 95.1% and North West at 91.8%.

While Gauteng spent 163% of its R382million provincial education capital budget for the 2010/11 financial year which ended on March 31, the Eastern Cape Department of Education spent only 43.9% of the R903.3-million allocated to it.

The lowest rate of health capital expenditure was also recorded in the Eastern Cape, which only spent 55.1% of its R1.34-billion budget, compared to Gauteng’s 58.3%, North West’s 105.3% and Western Cape’s 99.3%. Limpopo spent 91.2% of its health budget, North West 105.3%, Mpumalanga 81.1%, Free State 68.8%, KwaZulu-Natal 71.8% and Northern Cape 74.5%.

DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said the province’s poor performance on budget spending had a negative effect on the lives of poor people who were desperate for better education and healthcare services.

“Education only spent R396-million out of R903-million. This is 54.3% less than they spent last year. Health only spent R740-million out of R1.34-billion. This is 20% down on last year’s expenditure.

“It’s a tragedy that funds are available and can’t be spent when there is a crying need throughout this province for better education and health facilities. Schools without roofs and hospitals that lack basic equipment violate people’s human rights.

“The fact that education has only spent 43.9% of its capital budget and health only 55.1% for the 2010/11 financial year must serve as a wake-up call to the provincial government that something is rotten in the ‘State of Bhisho’.”

COPE regional chairperson Mzwandile Hote said the ANC had been very soft on taking stricter measures against underspending provincial departments.

“Rhetoric won’t help. The government must bring more laws that will allow for a fair punishment for under-spending.”

Hote said political parties should join hands in an effort to address the socio-economic challenges confronting the province as a result of under-spending.

Eastern Cape Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Mlibo Qoboshiyane said: “Indeed, we have also noted the under-expenditure in the province and we believe the situation has to be improved. We don’t take pleasure in this, while there is a need of services, especially in the departments of Health and Education.”

Qoboshiyane said in the current financial year – 2011/12 – provincial government processes would be fast-tracked in an effort to consume budgets in the first and second quarters of the financial year.

“The third and last quarters should be for polishing up.”

He said together with the provincial Planning and Finance Ministry, led by MEC Phumulo Masualle, they would overcome the challenge of under-expenditure.

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