Housing funds lying unused

2010-11-10 00:00

A WHOPPING R587 million has been lying stagnant in the coffers of provincial municipalities over the past eight years.

The money comes in the form of advanced funding from the provincial Human Settlements Department, but instead of being used to address housing shortfalls, it has been left to sit in municipal bank accounts while housing needs remain unaddressed.

Democratic Alliance MPP George Mari disclosed this in a recent statement in which he also accused municipal officials of having failed to declare the interest generated from the funding.

“It is incongruous that while communities have been forced to take to the streets to protest over a lack of funds for housing, certain municipalities have been sitting on the money — in some cases for more than eight years,” said Mari.

He said challenges in the form of slow-moving projects resulted in unused funds, but lack of capacity was the main reason for the money not being used as it should have been.

“The irony is that the previous MEC and HOD hid this information from the provincial portfolio committee, painting a glowing picture without any fiscal dumping or under-spending,” he said.

Mari praised the incumbent MEC, Maggie Govender, for “unearthing the rot”, but said immediate intervention is still required.

He said clarity is needed on whether municipalities have used the money for other operating expenses or whether the funds are sitting in their accounts.

“But the biggest question remains: why has this situation been allowed to develop?” he said.

According to the figures supplied by the department, eMnambithi Municipality is sitting on the most money — R62, 1 million. Hot on its heels is Newcastle Municipality with just over R56 million and third is Msunduzi Municipality with R44,5 million.

The Msunduzi Municipality and the department failed to react to Mari’s statement by the time of going to print.



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