When the Eastern Cape MEC for Provincial Planning and Finance, Phumulo Masualle, introduces the 2012/13 Adjustments Appropriation Bill in the Bhisho Legislature tomorrow (subs: Tuesday, 27 Nov), he must give clear direction about what action will be taken to rescue the province from the historical patterns of under expenditure on capital and over expenditure on personnel and goods and services. This is a fiscal nightmare which is wrecking service delivery in the province with no-one being held accountable and no consequences for poor performance.

The extent of this fiscal nightmare is illustrated by the projected under expenditure of R1, 014 billion on conditional grants and the projected over expenditure on a combination of personnel and goods and services in the region of R 1, 078 billion.

The under expenditure on capital in the province is a matter of grave concern. According to the National Treasury’s statement of receipt and payments for the second quarter, ended 30 September 2012, most provincial departments had under spent on their capital budgets. The two biggest departments, Health and Education, had spent 27,1% and 29, 4% respectively. Other slow spenders were Local Government and Traditional Affairs (19, 9%), Economic Development, Environmental Affairs and Tourism (11, 4%) and Safety and Liaison (10, 8 %).

One also expects the MEC to spell out how financial management will be tightened and to deal with the practice of not paying municipalities and businesses within 30 days.

Furthermore, according to the DA’s analysis of the Auditor-General’s finding in the latest annual reports for all departments, the Eastern Cape government failed to achieve nearly half of all its delivery targets for the past financial year.

This raises the whole question of the efficiency of government spending.

The fiscal nightmare which the Eastern Cape is experiencing highlights the broken chain of accountability that flows from MEC’s right throughout government departments. Until there are consequences for poor performance nothing will change.

Where the DA governs we enforce stringent performance targets and accountability. We expect nothing less from the Eastern Cape government.