Picture: 123RF/PAY LESS IMAGES
Picture: 123RF/PAY LESS IMAGES

The Gauteng provincial government has failed to spend more than R4.165bn of its R132bn budget, including money that could have been used to appoint more than 1,200 teachers and build schools, clinics, libraries and hospitals.

The biggest culprits are the departments of education, health, social development, human settlements, and roads and transport. The annual reports were presented to the legislature earlier in February.

The education department underspent its budget by R1.3bn, resulting in vacancies at schools not being filled, school furniture not being bought and bursaries for teachers not being settled.

According to the education annual report, the department’s failure to spend its entire budget resulted in incomplete school kitchens and gas installations, making it difficult to provide nutrition for pupils.

The annual report states that the influx of pupils from other provinces and neighbouring countries posed a challenge during the 2019/2020 financial year.

“The large increase in learner numbers due to in-migration resulted in budget pressures relating to the provision of infrastructure and the resourcing of schools. This has impacted on the ratio of educators to learners and resulted in overcrowding in some of our schools.”

The report further states that the slow delivery of infrastructure projects continues to be a challenge.

“This is as a result of inter-departmental dependencies, capacity of the sector to deliver at a desired rate, as well as business forum protests hampering delivery of services. The protests are as a result of the misunderstanding of the 30% clause in the procurement regulations,” the report says.

The report further states that vacant posts at school level were not filled by school governing bodies.

“The new system to procure learning and teaching support material (LTSM) was introduced by the Gauteng provincial treasury, which caused delays and contributed to underspending,” the report states.

Gauteng education spokesperson Steve Mabona confirmed that his department had failed to spend its budget.

“The personnel expenditure outcome for 2019/2020 reflects personnel under expenditure of R374.757m. Using the average annual cost of a post level 1 (PL1) educator in 2019/2020 (R298,990.73) this amount is about 1,253 PL1 educator posts,” Mabona said.

He said the bulk of the underspent budget was due to the rate of natural attrition of about 2% within public schools. “Accordingly, this remains significantly below the Department of Public Service and Administration’s recommended vacancy rate target of 10%.”

He said the department incurred about R14m in irregular expenditure during 2019/2020. “The irregular expenditure resulting from prior years (legacy issues) will terminate once the contracts reach the end date. “

Mabona said disciplinary processes had commenced in respect of the irregular expenditure and the department had engaged provincial treasury with a view to obtain a condonement for the irregular expenditure in its financials.

Health provincial spokesperson Kwara Kekana confirmed her department underspent by R905.1m, but the department applied for rollover of funds amounting to R431.5m to the 2020/2021 financial year.

Kekana said underspending was mainly in paying of salaries due to staff turnover.

The DA’s MPL Alan Fuchs said consequence management in Gauteng provincial departments is non-existent and culprits are allowed to resign before disciplinary proceedings get instituted against them.

Fuchs said the reasons provided for failing projects by the infrastructure development department when they tabled their annual report were late payments to contractors, poor performance of contractors, additional scope of work by clients, slow approval by municipalities, poor compensation, event management and community disruptions.

Gauteng treasury spokesperson John Sukazi declined to say what was being done to prevent the underexpenditure.

“The auditor-general has not finalised the audit process of the 2019/2020 GPG annual combined financial information. Once the audit is done, we will send the report,” Sukazi said.

Breakdown of underspending departments

  • Health R905.1m
  • Roads and transport R637.2m
  • Social development R401.9m
  • Cogta R66.5m
  • Human settlements R283.7m
  • Sports R91.5m
  • Office of the premier R60m
  • Infrastructure development R82m
  • Treasury R52.4me
  • Government R64.6m
  • Economic development R79.3m
  • Community safety R13.4m
  • Development R38.3m

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