Dept to use LSM budget to pay staff

2013-10-09 00:00

THE provincial Department of Education intends to spend about R155 million from its learner support material (books and stationery) budget to pay monies owed to its employees.

This emerged yesterday at the meeting of the portfolio committee in the Legislature.

The Witness recently reported that the department planned to cut its infrastructure budget to pay teachers who had embarked on industrial action recently.

Department head Nkosinathi Sishi said the move was prompted by financial pressures.

A report tabled to the committee said the department has been managing its budget under extreme pressure in the past four to five years due to underfunding of the occupational specific dispensation and wage agreements dating back to 2008.

“This has had a carry through expenditure effect which resulted in the erosion of the budget for compensation of employees for subsequent years.”

The report said the department had an approved organogram of 89 437 teachers and 19 623 office-based personnel since 2007/8.

“During these years a number of collective agreements were signed at various levels of government which had an effect of increasing the rate of pay for various categories of employees.

“Due to the department’s not being able to afford such, the implementation of these agreements was deferred,” the report said.

It added that the department had tried to catch up on the personnel budget without success and sought assistance from the legislature in order to get more funding.

The report said the department already showed in its first quarter of this financial year that the pressures on compensation of employees totalled R451 million.

As a result, the department conducted reprioritisation of its funds, which would mean R1,1 billion being moved from various budget categories.

As at August, R1,042 billion has been identified for reprioritisation of funds with R453 million from goods and services, R500 million from infrastructure and R150 million in machinery and equipment. Of the amount that was reprioritised, R155 million will come from learner teacher support material, R15 million from bursaries of employees, R20 million stationery and printing, R40 million in property payments, R22 million in assets less than R5 000 and R60 million in training and development programme, among others.

The reprioritisation of the funds would now cater for 1 866 posts that were unfunded.

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