DA slams waste on ‘nice to haves’

2008-04-16 00:00

RISING inflation caused the KwaZulu-Natal Health Department to overspend by over R800 million on its budget for the 2007/08 financial year.

Responding to questions sent by The Witness, the department said some of the costs incurred could not be foreseen and therefore could not have been budgeted for.

These include the higher compensation of employees, the public servants’ strike and the increase in the demand for medicines.

Other factors were the increase in the cost of catering for patients and fuel hikes.

“The rising inflation rate, especially in respect of medical inventory, is eroding the funding of the department and is beyond its control.

“The department is legally bound to treat all patients who are present at its institutions and it is difficult to manage this demand as it affects the Constitutional rights of patients who require health care,” the department said in a statement.

It said: “the cost of living inflation as well as the increase in the cost of fuel have been much higher than predicted. Provision could not be made to cover the additional expenditure within the allocated budget without compromising service delivery.”

Yesterday, the provincial government came under fire from the opposition, which lambasted the over-expenditure incurred by some departments, including the struggling Royal Household Department.

Roger Burrows of the Democratic Alliance said this over-expenditure is bound to have negative consequences for the province as a whole.

He called on the provincial treasury and the executive to ensure that spending by the departments is in line with their particular departmental priorities and said the government should curtail spending on the “nice to haves”.

“If money is required for health and education, then that’s where it must be spent — not on the ‘nice to haves’ of the ANC, such as profligate imbizo spending, clothes for the queens … Quite clearly our entire budget needs a zero-based reassessment, not just in Health,” he said.

bmbanjwa@witness.co.za

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