Public Works grilled on R200 mln under-spending

2011-10-19 00:00

THE under-spending by over R200 million by the Public Works Department of its conditional grant on property rates is due to some municipalities overstating the amounts owed to them by the provincial government’s departments.

This is what the head for the KZN department, Roger Govender, told the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) yesterday.

Govender was responding to a question by Scopa about what had led to the excessive under-spending in the department’s 2010/2011 financial year while there was significant underdeveloped in most areas of the province.

“In 2010/2011, the department was given an opportunity to request additional funding for the conditional grant in the adjusted budget estimates. All municipalities were then requested to provide details of outstanding invoices in respect of property rates … It was found that a number of municipalities had significantly overstated the amounts owing to them, which resulted in the department requesting and being allocated about R200 million above its requirements.

“It must be noted that the department had settled all invoices received for property rates at the end of the financial year,” Govender said.

He also confirmed that the department faces 22 lawsuits estimated at over R15,5 million brought by companies and individuals.

“As with all lawsuits, the certainty of the outcome of these lawsuits is unknown. These cases are dealt with through the normal legal process.”

Scopa asked the department to provide details of the lawsuits and show how much each cost.

The head of the Human Settlement Department, Gabi Masilela-Gumi, told Scopa that three officials who have been dismissed from the department for improper sale of housing units are due to stand trial.

Masilela-Gumbi said two other officials were hauled before the department’s internal disciplinary hearing for fraudulently obtaining subsidy houses. They were issued with warning letters and have signed acknowledgements of debt letters. Another two employees were not subjected to internal discipline as they are no longer department employees.

• skhumbuzo.miya@witness.co.za

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