ConCourt orders KZN dept to pay subsidy

2013-04-25 14:34
The Constitutional Court (Picture: Sapa)

The Constitutional Court (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The KwaZulu-Natal education department must pay the outstanding amount of a subsidy it promised independent schools, the Constitutional Court ruled on Thursday.

In 2008, the department issued the province's independent schools a notice setting out the approximate funding levels for the 2009 financial year.

In May 2009, after the first instalment was due, the department warned in a circular that schools could expect a subsidy cut not exceeding 30% for that financial year.

The subsidies eventually paid were, on average, 30% less than those set out in the 2008 notice.

The schools challenged this in the KwaZulu-Natal High Court, arguing that the 2008 notice should be viewed as an enforceable undertaking to pay the entire year’s subsidy without any reduction.

The high court dismissed the application and the Supreme Court of Appeal refused leave to appeal.

In a majority ruling, the Constitutional Court found that while the 2008 notice did not give rise to a contract between the schools and the department, it did constitute a publicly promulgated promise to pay.

Most of the judges accepted, in general, that the government's promised subsidies could be reduced.

Judge Edwin Cameron, who wrote judgment, held that it was constitutionally sound that a public official who promised to pay specified amounts could not unilaterally reduce the amounts after the due date of payment.
Read more on:    pietermaritzburg  |  education

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