Eastern Cape underspending, failing its people’ February 05, 2007, 17:15

The Eastern Cape is underspending on its allocated provincial budget and therefore failing its people, the Public Service Accountability Monitor (PSAM) said. Adrienne Carlisle, the PSAM spokesperson, said the province's budget had been underspent in the 2006/2007 financial year."Our concern is that the Eastern Cape had spent only 60.45%, or R1.24 billion out of its R2.5 billion capital budget by the end of December. This means that only 69.5% of the budget had been spent," said Carlisle. She said provinces at this stage of the year should have utilised about 75% of their budget.Education department on track with spendingThe National Treasury's quarterly spending results are responsible for the in-year monitoring mechanism that enables departments to reflect on achievements and to take steps necessary in correcting over or under expenditure.This ensures that the departments spend funds allocated to them responsibly, said Carlisle.Some of the departments that underspent on their budget allocation include the department of housing, local government and traditional affairs which spent R621.8 million of its R1.2 billion budget and the provincial treasury which spent only 49% of its budget.The departments on track with their spending include the department of education which spent 72.5% of its budget and the department of social development which spent 72.4% of its budget.Housing department on hot seat for underspendingCarlise warned the departments that their spending should be in line with their strategic and performance plans service delivery targets for the 2006/07 financial year. Carlisle said the province had not spent its conditional grants properly, referring to the department of housing, local government and traditional affairs.The department had only spent R291 million out of its R762 million budget, she said."We call on Sam Kwelita, the local government MEC, to explain why spending on conditional grants, meant to provide housing to the poor, has been so slow," said Carlisle.Kwelita could not be reached for comment. - Sapa

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