Scopa grills health bosses

2011-10-25 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal Health Department had a mammoth task last week explaining to the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) how it managed to underspend its R22 billion 2010/2011budget by almost R1,4 billion.

This figure raised eyebrows widely when it was first brought to light.

Health MEC Dr Sibongiseni Dlomo, head of department Dr Sbongile Zungu and their team had a busy day answering questions from the no-nonsense members of Scopa.

They referred to a 35-page document and spent more than three hours giving their explanations.

This financial year the department received a qualified report for, among others:

• Material under-spending worth R1 billion

•Inefficiency in explaining the management of its movable, tangible capital assets

• Incurring irregular expenditure worth R401 million

• Transgression of procurement and contract management policies

Among its responses on underspending the department outlined uncertainty over R20 million for the occupation-specific dispensation (OSD), an additional R462,5 million that included R340 million for the higher-than-estimated 2010 wage agreement, and an additional R20 million provided for the HIV and Aids conditional grant for the male circumcision programme.

Added to this was an amount of R87,5 million for OSD for therapists and doctors in this programme.

The R525,1 million underspent on district health services was attributed to late provision of the budget among other factors, while R229,1 million ­underspent on the central hospital project was due to the journalling of incorrect expenditure of R127 million.

Health management at about R513,3 million related mainly to under-spending on a hospital revitalisation grant, the national infrastructure grant to provinces and an extended public works programme.

An amount of R609,4 million for goods and services was due to late budget provision, as well as savings on the various conditional grants and forced savings implemented at institutional level to remain within budget.

On the issue of irregular spending in the Health Department, Zungu conceded that part of the R400 million in question was lost to corrupt activities.

He said an amount of R11 million has been recovered so far, while investigations of other cases continued.

Scopa chairperson Makhosi Khoza said her committee is not pleased that R1,4 billion was under-spent and she is unhappy that the department has received a qualified report for the third year in succession.

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