Limpopo could miss out on R1.3bn in grants

2014-03-05 09:25

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Irregularities and exploitable systems could see Limpopo losing more than R1 billion meant for roads and housing.

While it could deprive the province of better roads infrastructure and houses, administrators said they could not have allowed that the money be used through unacceptable mechanisms, hence tenders had to be cancelled.

Now the Limpopo government will plead with Treasury to let it keep some of the R1.3 billion in conditional grants, which is on its way back to state coffers.

Finance MEC Rudolph Phala said this money could not be used for the intended purposes after tenders, which were awarded in the run-up to the Mangaung conference were questioned and subsequently became the subject of an investigation.

“It was later discovered that some companies awarded tenders were companies that were being investigated and some things were not right with them and tenders were stalled. Now we will be meeting the finance minister to discuss how some of the money can still be spent,” he said.

Limpopo treasury’s head of department, Gavin Pratt, added: “We hope to convince Treasury that the money is still needed in Limpopo and we’re ready to spend it. We could have just spent the money for the sake of spending but we needed to strengthen our systems first.”

Meanwhile, Phala has tabled Limpopo’s R51.46 billion 2014/15 budget in which education continued to get the lion’s share, followed by health.

Education was allocated 48.5% of the overall budget at R24.97 billion – an increase from R23.48 in the last financial year.

“The need to improve our educational systems in the province has been a priority of this administration and a lot has been achieved in this regard. We have witnessed an improvement in the matric pass rate from 48.9% in 2009 to 71.8% in 2013,” Phala said.

“We built 33 new schools between 2009 and 2012 in an endeavour to reduce overcrowding in our schools. We have delivered textbooks to all schools in the 2014 school year.”

Health was awarded the second biggest chunk of budget at R14.37 billion, an increase from R13 billion in the last financial year.

Phala continued to pat the Limpopo government on the back for its successes although there were still many problems and challenges, including poor infrastructure and medical equipment and medicine supply shortages in the province.

“Delivering better quality health services remains one of the key priorities of government. In an attempt to achieve this, the government has constructed 24 health centres and 21 gateway clinics between 2010 and 2013,” he said.

Meanwhile, the department of cooperative governance, human settlements and traditional affairs (Coghsta), which is responsible for housing, was allocated R2.16 billion.

Phala said R5.1 billion was allocated across departments for infrastructure development, with Coghsta getting R59.4 million while roads and transport got R1.7 billion. Roads and transport’s slice of the cake from the main provincial budget is R4.43 billion.

Phala has reiterated Premier Stan Mathabatha’s words on the clampdown on corruption. “One of the areas we must work together in and tighten all our efforts is the fight against the scourge of corruption including all other acts of dishonesty such as bribery, fraud, tender-rigging, nepotism, patronage, money laundering and embezzlement.

This includes among others striving to totally remove or reduce irregular, unauthorised and fruitless and wasteful expenditures,” he said.

“Several officials have been arrested for corruption-related crimes of fraud, tender-rigging and other misdemeanours in the previous few years and months. We vow to redouble our efforts to uproot similar rotten apples that are still inside the public service.”

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