The Gauteng Provincial Government (GPG) has incurred unauthorized expenditure to the tune of R1.6 billion which is placing an extra financial burden on the residents of this province and has a negative impact on service delivery.
Unauthorized expenditure occurs when more money is paid for goods and services than was initially budgeted for.
In addition, if a department utilizes a saving from the salaries budget to buy goods and services, such expenditure is also unauthorized.
At a recent meeting of the Gauteng’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) it emerged that as of the 31 March, six departments within the provincial government incurred unauthorized expenditure as follows:
• Economic Development R 16.7 million
• Health R 653.9 million
• Education R 935.8 million
• Social Development R29 million
• Human Settlements R7.1 million
• Infrastructure Development R 30.3 million
The unauthorized expenditure amount represents just over 1% of the overall provincial budget which is just shy of R149 billion.
Should SCOPA find that the procedures in the guidelines for authorized expenditure were not followed or the criteria were not satisfied, SCOPA will recommend that the unauthorized amount be recouped from the new budget before any other money is spent.
In the case of Health, as stated above, the department will forfeit almost R636 million rand from its new budget to pay for the previous year’s over-expenditure if SCOPA so recommends.
This means that a critical service like Health will have to provide services with an even more constrained budget, which will negatively impact the residents of Gauteng. Our residents will have to wait longer as some public healthcare services may not have sufficient healthcare personnel or equipment.
If this mismanagement of public funds is not fixed in time, officials do not face consequence management, and money is not repaid, SCOPA can punish unauthorized expenditure by making departments pay out of their new budgets.
The DA will insist that SCOPA ensures that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill that was adopted by the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) in 2016 be enforced.
This bill makes provision for Provincial Treasury to assist some departments by paying off historic unauthorized expenditures if the departments have given satisfactory reasons for the unauthorized expenditure.
Where a department has unauthorized expenditure that is unjustified it must be funded from the department’s own budget.
The DA will write to the GPL SCOPA Chairperson, Sochayile Khanyile demanding that the Unauthorized Expenditure Bill be enforced to ensure that GPG departments adhere to all Provincial and National Treasury Guidelines.
By adhering to this bill government departments will be forced to budget correctly and spend money wisely for the benefit of our residents.