Housing and local government lags behind in E Cape grant spending

By Patrick Cull
THE Eastern Cape has spent less than 70% of the more than R1,2-billion in conditional grants it received from National Treasury for the first nine months of the current financial year.
The worst offender is housing and local government, having spent only a fraction over R291-million of the R656,7-million it received for the integrated housing and human settlement grant. In addition to the more than R365-million the department has not spent to date, National Treasury still has to transfer some R94-million to the province.
Apart from this grant and the ill-fated national school nutrition programme grant of which only R157,6-million out of R233,8-million had been spent by the end of the third quarter with little hope of the remainder being allocated, the Eastern Cape was essentially on track at the end of December.
Both the education and health departments were up to speed in spending grants for HIV/Aids, with education having used R21-million of its R25-million grant for life skills education and health having spent R191,2-million of its R218-million allocation for the comprehensive HIV and Aids programme.
And it would appear health will not have to forfeit funds from the hospital revitalisation grant as was the case in the last financial year, the department having spent R89-million out of a total allocation of R105-million.
Commenting on the figures, Finance MEC Billy Nel said there was cause for concern about some of the grant spending, particularly that earmarked for housing, although it was “a definite step forward” that the HIV/Aids and hospital revitalisation grants had been spent.
Overall provincial capital expenditure is well behind schedule for the year with only about 60 per cent of budget spent.
Education as well as health and roads and transport have still to spent large amounts, although Nel said this could be because of the time lag between receiving the money and awarding contracts.

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