MSUNDUZI Municipality has been forced to return R196,6 million to National Treasury because it did not spend it on much-needed projects in time.The unspent money was under the Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant, Municipal Infrastructure Grant, the Integrated National Electrification Grant and the Municipal Systems Improvement Grant. The bulk of this was meant for electricity upgrades in the city.Acting city manager Dr Ray Ngcobo told the city’s executive committee (Exco) that they had applied for a roll-over but were denied it.“We have to pay [back] what was not used,” Ngcobo said.General manager for Infrastructure Services - the department accountable for spending these grants - Nomnganga Sabatha, said there was “confusion” about whether to spend the money or not and when they received the go-ahead, “it was too late”.When asked if the city had the money to repay Treasury, the Exco was told that the money had already been returned to the department in December.Chairperson of the Economic Development committee Eunice Majola said she was “very disappointed” with the report.“I am wondering why we have not spent this money. People out there need service delivery and this is not painting a very good picture of the municipality,” Majola said.She demanded that a report from “those accountable” be delivered at the next executive meeting.DA caucus leader Sibongiseni Majola said the report raised serious concerns as this was part of the reason the auditor-general gave the city a qualified audit.“We are not learning from our past mistakes. What obstacles are leading us to give this money back? Management must provide answers,” he said.Ngcobo, who sat in for acting city manager Sizwe Hadebe, said certain projects were bound to face various challenges at ground level.He mentioned the Integrated Rapid Transport Network project as a large-scale project for the city as one example.He said there were issues that hindered certain projects.“It is not just for the sake of just spending; expenditure must be disciplined.“Yes, it is taboo to not spend conditional grants but we must be practical and responsible,” Ngcobo said.Raising another issue, DA councillor Glenn McArthur said the report was dated almost four months ago but only brought to council last week.He said the delayed reports were one of the reasons why the municipality could not keep control of their finances.Exco demanded monthly reports on how the city was spending the grants.