THE provincial health budget has an extra R1.4-billion this year – up from last year’s R15.16-billion to R16.58-billion.

The additional amount will assist with payments including compensation of employees such as salaries, rural allowances and Occupational Specific Dispensation (OSD).

The extra funds will also bolster the budget for capital assets, which entails upgrades to hospitals, building new clinics and buying or replacing equipment.

The lion’s share of the budget – R15.40-billion – goes to current payments, which are made up of compensation of employees and goods and services. Compensation of employees gets 66% and goods and services receives the rest.

Delivering the 2013/14 budget and policy speech at the legislature in Bhisho on Wednesday, Health MEC Sicelo Gqobana noted the department’s fight against fraud and corruption.

Earlier this year the Dispatch reported how a probe by the Special Investigation Unit and Eastern Cape treasury revealed about 9 000 health department employees were active company directors. Some of these employees are doing business with the department.

Gqobana said the department had recovered over R120-million through this fight. Two senior managers and 10 employees were dismissed, 12 disciplinary cases are still under way and close to 50 other matters are with the police.

But DA health spokesman John Cupido said “very minimal” work had been done to stop the fraud and corruption.

“An increase of at least R3-billion would’ve been better to make significant inroads in the existing backlogs,” he said.

Cope’s Sam Kwelita said the health system in the province had “almost collapsed”.

“We remain convinced there is nothing much the current crop of leaders can do to salvage this department out of the mess.”

The increase in the budget would not be sufficient, he said. “Cope will continue to push for the national takeover of this department.” —