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Gauteng spends on infrastructure budget

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Gauteng provincial departments have for the first time spent 99% of their total adjusted infrastructure and conditional grants budgets for the 2014/15 financial year, an indication that government continues to improve spending to meet the service delivery needs of the people, MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy announced yesterday.

“We are very pleased that we have managed to spend 99% of our infrastructure budget in this period. In 2013/14 financial year we only managed to spend 91%. Infrastructure gives citizens services and provides jobs so it is very important that we have dramatically increased spending,” Creecy says during a presentation of the state of finances in the Gauteng Provincial Government at the finance committee of the provincial legislature.

The Department of Roads & Transport recorded 100% of expenditure, Sports, Arts, Culture & Recreation, Education, Human Settlement and Infrastructure Development recorded an expenditure that is above 90%.

“This money was used in the building and upgrading of schools, roads, clinics, hospitals, libraries, community care facilities and children’s homes. This is spending on a lot of social infrastructure and it means that we are expanding services to our citizens, while at the same time doing maintenance work as you know that many of our facilities are old,” she says.

In 2012/13 infrastructure expenditure in the province was 96% of the budget. The figure went down in 2013/14 to 91% before significantly increasing to 99% in 2014/15 financial year.

Expenditure on Conditional Grant totalled R16.9 billion or 99% of the budget in the year under review. This is a significant improvement over the past three years because in 2012/13 total expenditure on Conditional Grants was 94% of the budget, before increasing to 97% in 2013/14 and eventually reaching 99% in 2014/15 Agriculture and Rural Development was one of the best performing departments in the previous year with spending rates of 99% of the allocated budget.

Conditional grants are funds transferred from the national treasury for specific functions and may not be spent on anything else. These functions include school nutrition, Extended Public Works Programmes, provincial roads maintenance, poverty relief through agricultural projects, HIV/Aids life skills, and technical schools recapitalisation.

GPG departments spent 87.2-billion or 98% of the total 2014/15 provincial budget. This was an improvement on the previous year and demonstrated that government is making substantial investment in public programmes including the provision of quality of public education and healthcare services have to ensure the social net benefit for the people.

The Department of Health, Department of Education and the Department of Social Development were the main drivers of expenditure for the provincial government, recording expenditure rates of 98%, 99% and 99% respectively.

“To prevent incidences of under expenditure, it is important for departments to institutionalise (at strategic and operational levels) the continuous implementation of cost-cutting and cost-containment measures in light of the prevailing regional economic conditions,” MEC says.

Total expenditure on compensation of employees remained within the budget, but more work needs to be done to manage personnel numbers especially in labour intensive departments.

“That is why we are constantly expanding the control environment in the departments. One of the important things that we are now saying is that the head of every section in each department has to sign off on the payroll every month. If you are a director you have to say on a monthly basis that these people work for me and it’s alright to pay them. These are the measures that we are implementing to ensure that human resources/capital management continues to receive prominent attention within departments, from planning, budgeting to implementation,” she adds.

Government also managed to increase revenue collected from provincial sources including interest earned from investments, motor vehicle licenses, gambling, betting taxes and hospital patient fees by R700 million to R4.3 billion in the year under review. This was a 16% jump from the previous year.

“The improvement in the collection rate of departments was due to innovations we continue to make in order to enhance revenue in our province. This is particularly the case when you look in the area of transport where we have made it easier for our people to pay their motor vehicle licenses through the South African Post Office,” Creecy says.