Gauteng health halts new building projects
By the end of December, Gauteng’s cash-strapped health department owed suppliers more than R6.5bn and had virtually run out of money for the fourth quarter of the financial year, the provincial legislature heard on Tuesday.
This forced the department to freeze all new building projects for fiscal 2018-19, delaying plans to add wards to Edenvale Hospital and new hospitals in Kempton Park, Daveyton and Soshanguve.
The latest details of the desperate state of Gauteng health’s finances were presented by Gauteng Health MEC Gwen Ramokgopa, when she reported on her department’s third quarter performance for fiscal 2017-18, which ends on March 31.
The department began 2017-18 with R7bn in accruals rolled over from the previous year and has yet to resolve a long-running billing dispute with the National Health Laboratory Service.
The department has seen its compensation budget steadily crowd out spending on other programmes.
The department had just R229m available for goods and services for the last quarter of the financial year, according Ramakgopa’s presentation,
The DA’s Jack Bloom said barely a quarter of suppliers were being paid within 30 days and the SA Qualifications Authority had stopped verifying the credentials of nonclinical staff because it was owed money. "I am greatly concerned that there is a 30% under spending on infrastructure in this financial year and there will be a freeze on all new building projects," said Bloom.
Craig Househam, a member of the intervention team appointed to help turn around the department, said it needed to reduce its spending on personnel, receive a budget allocation in line with the population it served, and not spend money it did not have.