I am fed-up that decisions taken by the Portfolio Committee on Finance that the Provincial Treasury table quarterly reports on the state of the province’s finances are simply being ignored. They have been requested to do this on a number of occasions. We also do not receive regular quarterly report on the state of municipal finances in terms of Section 71 (7) of the Municipal Finance Management Act. Not only is the Treasury ignoring the portfolio committee’s instruction but it is also failing its statutory obligations.
As a result I have now tabled a formal motion in the Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature to ensure that Provincial Treasury is reigned in and becomes accountable to the Legislature. For the motion, click here.
The motion I tabled for discussion yesterday (subs: 26 Sept) will improve financial accountability in the province. In terms of the motion the MEC for Finance and Provincial Planning must table a quarterly report in the House on the state of the finances of the province and the overall financial position of municipalities. I also want the findings and recommendations that flow from these reports to be debated in the House.
The Legislature and the public needs to be fully informed as to the critical nature of provincial finances. The economy is not doing well and the latest miners’ strikes have added to the problem. Tax receipts are not what they were in previous years. It is therefore very unlikely that there will be bailouts from national government. The Eastern Cape was warned by National Treasury over a year ago to deal with its additional employees and I have repeatedly cautioned against the dangers of our bloated bureaucracy. In the region of 77% of the provincial budget — less conditional grants — go to personnel costs.
Bhisho cannot simply be reduced to an employment and redeployment agency. My biggest fear is that there will be continue to be massive under expenditure on infrastructure so it can be offset against rising personnel costs.
It is common knowledge that the province is projected to overspend by at least R1,8 billion in this financial year. Depending on whether or not certain factors are brought into play, the Education Department could also be heavily under-funded in the new financial year as a result of the overheating of personnel costs.
I have today sent in a question for written reply wishing to know if Provincial Treasury intends imposing a R1,6 billion penalty on the Department of Education, for its failure to deal with the reassignment of teachers who are in posts that are redundant.
I also wish to get clarity as to whether or not any departments are going to have funds top-sliced from their budgets in the new financial year or whether or not national treasury intends imposing budget cuts.