Parliament slams Water and Sanitation Dept for missing targets, outstanding debt

Cape Town – The Department of Water and Sanitation overspent close to R111m of its budget for the 2016/17 financial year, but only achieved 48% of its performance targets, according to a report tabled in Parliament on Friday.

Parliament’s standing committee on appropriations, which monitors the spending patterns of state departments, has fingered a number of state departments for either under of overspending in the most recent financial year.

In its report, the committee said it was concerned about the “significant disjuncture” between the Department of Water and Sanitation’s spending for the past financial year and the targets achieved.

“Of particular concern is the poor performance under [the] Water Infrastructure Development programme where 100% of the budget was spent, yet only 33% of the targets were achieved.”

Other problems highlighted in the report include high levels of accruals, irregular and unauthorised spending and failure to pay invoices within the specified 30-day period.

Irregular spending of R1.3bn was incurred due to deviations from supply chain management procedures, according to the report. “This raises questions about the credibility of planning within the Department.”

READ: Cash crunch: Water dept struggles to pay off R1.5bn debt 

The Water Trading Entity that resorts under the Department was owed a total of R9.9bn at the end of March 2017 of which R3.7bn was owed by municipalities, the report noted. Worryingly, the Water Trading Entity expected that long standing debt from municipalities of R2.9bn would be paid and included this payment as revenue in its 2016/17 financial year.

However, the amount was not recovered and therefore the entity had an overdraft of R3.3bn at the end of April 2017.

In addition, Parliament noted that the Department has not finalised its National Water Masterplan, which could undermine sector-wide planning as significant financial resources are directed to water infrastructure across the country.

Parliament recommended in its report that the Department in consultation with the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation develop a mechanism whereby poor performance such as non-attainment of annual targets are sanctioned.

The Department and the Water Trading Entity should eliminate all outstanding debt and strengthen their cash flow management systems.

News24 earlier reported that Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane blamed her Department’s poor performance on “ill-equipped municipalities” that could not implement their projects.

In August this year, she appeared before the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) to account for R2.5bn in irregular expenditure in 2015/16.

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