Malusi Gigaba. Picture: REUTERS
Malusi Gigaba. Picture: REUTERS

National and provincial departments spent a combined R22bn on travel and subsistence, catering, entertainment, advertising, newspapers, publications, conferences and other related expenditure in the 2016-17 financial year, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba has revealed.

DA finance spokesman David Maynier said there was a now a huge "budget hole" which needed to be addressed by the imposition of austerity measures.

In the period April to end-August 2017, the total amount spent on these items was R7.8bn to R3.8bn by national departments and R4.2bn for provincial departments. Expenditure on these items by national departments in 2016 was R11.5bn and R10.4bn for provincial departments.

National departments spent R3bn on consultants last year and R5.4bn on travel and subsistence, while provincial departments spent R3bn and R3.9bn respectively.

Gigaba gave the figures in a written reply to a parliamentary question by Maynier who wanted to probe whether Treasury’s cost-containment measures had been successful or not. Commenting on the minister’s reply, Maynier said that Treasury "has fought a brave belt-tightening battle imposing cost-containment measures that have, at least, slowed the rate of increase in current spending on items such as catering, travel and subsistence, and entertainment.

"However, the ‘budget hole’ is now huge and the time has come to impose austerity measures aimed at cutting spending. To illustrate the point, just a 10% cut in spending on, for example, catering, consultants, stationary, travel and subsistence, and venues and facilities would save about R3.6bn in 2017-18."

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