MEC: We check before we pay

2015-05-20 06:00
THE MEC of Health in the Free State, Dr Benny Malakoane.

 Photo: Mlungisi Louw

THE MEC of Health in the Free State, Dr Benny Malakoane. Photo: Mlungisi Louw

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THE Free State Department of Health is being billed at least R6,5 million per month by the Buthelezi Ambulance Service for services rendered towards health provincially.

Dr Benny Malakoane, the Free State MEC for Health, said although the Buthelezi Ambulance Service may be billing the department millions of rands, the department does not make payments before verifying the figures first.

“We have to verify the service provided before making payments,” said Malakoane, adding that his department was accountable to the Social Services Committee housed at the Southern Life Plaza Building in Bloemfontein.

He said this on Wednesday (13/05) when replying to questions regarding the department’s critical financial state.

Despite the privatisation of emergency services as a cost-cutting measure, Malakoane told the Social Services Committee more money was needed to cover the essential services given by the department.

The Buthelezi Ambulance Service has been awarded a three-year contract by the department to supplement the department’s emergency ambulance services. The Buthelezi Ambulance Service has a fleet of 48 ambulances operating throughout the province.

Mariette Pittaway, the DA’s member in the Provincial Legislature, has raised concerns about the department overspending by R46 million on emergency medical services.

Malakoane explained that although the budget for the department had decreased, the demand for health services had also increased.

“The department also provides services to people from Lesotho, the Northern Cape, the Eastern Cape and some regions of Gauteng,” he said.

He further stated that government had to restructure the equitable share formula, which was bleeding the provincial coffers.

According to this formula, provinces are allocated funds according to the population in the respective provinces.

With the Free State population declining steadily, Malakoane said the government did not take into consideration people from other provinces and countries such as Lesotho flocking to the Free State for health services.

Malakoane added that the treasury had reduced the Free State Department of Health’s budget by R148 million in the current 2015-’16 financial year.

It emerged that the Free State Department of Health was still in a dire financial crisis and struggling with accruals to the amount of R800 million.

Malakoane said the turnaround strategy of the department would focus on financial policies, internal controls and cash flow management, which he said were the department’s biggest weaknesses

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