Education risks losing half of grant

2016-11-16 06:00

THE provincial Department of Education is running the risk of losing out on a second transfer of the multimillion rand mathematics, science and technology grant, due to their underspending of the grant.

The department was allocated R62,4 million at the beginning of the 2016/2017 financial year from the national Department of Basic Education (DBE).

Documents presented to a finance portfolio committee mid-term budget performance hearing at the provincial legislature yesterday show the department had only spent 12,2% of the grant at the end of the mid-term, which was on 30 September.

A document presented by the provincial treasury said the department now has to explain itself to the DBE.

“The department needs to provide an action plan in respect of the strategy to accelerate spending, as the Department of Basic Education has previously indicated they are considering withholding the second transfer based on the low spending,” said the department.

Head of department Enock Nzama was quick to point out that the expenditure had improved since then, saying it was currently at 33% and R4,1 million had been committed.

“A turnaround strategy plan has been developed,” he said.

The department now has under five months to spend the grant fully.

Committee member Maggie Govender said it was unacceptable that the department was not prioritising the spending of the grant.

“This is not the first time there has been underspending in this grant. We heard the same story last year.”

The department also has to explain to the executive council how it will bring to zero the projected over-expenditure which is thought to be around

R40 million.

The actual projected over-expenditure is R87,455 million. However, the provincial treasury indicated that it will allocate just over R40 million to the department during the budget adjustment, which will bring down the total over-expenditure to just over R40 million.

The committee also warned the department to keep staff numbers in check.

A report by provincial treasury showed the department’s staff had fluctuated from 105 617 employees in April to 106 728 in September.

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