EC government blows R8.5 billion on consultants in three years

Bobby Stevenson MPL

DA Eastern Cape Provincial Legislature Leader and Shadow MEC for Finance

The Eastern Cape government spent R8.5 billion on consultants over the last three years. A parallel civil service is being established whose duplicate costs run into billions that could otherwise go to fixing our schools, hospitals and roads.

A total of R2.9 billion was spent in 2009/2010, R3 billion in 2010/11 and R2.7 billion in the 2011/12 financial years. This is according to a reply from Finance MEC Phumulo Masualle to my parliamentary question this week.

These latest figures are a further sign of how governance is increasingly being outsourced due to a lack of internal capacity within Departments to deliver. This is a direct result of the failed cadre deployment policy. The spending on consultants must be seen in the context of Departments paying for bloated administrations without prioritizing the skills to deliver. The Eastern Cape cannot afford a parallel civil service.

The Health Department was the biggest spender on consultants at R1.151 billion in 2011/12. The other biggest spenders for 2011/2012 are Roads and Public Works (R1.007 billion), Rural Development and Agrarian Reform (R159 million) and Education (R123 million). Premier Noxolo Kieviet’s office is also failing to set the example by spending R63 million on consultants in 2011/2012.

The DA will use upcoming committee meetings on government annual reports to probe Departments on the exact details of which companies were paid and for what service. We will request information on whether any skills transfer took place from consultants to the permanent staff of each Department as required by Treasury regulations. I am sceptical that government will stick to the budget of R1.229 billion for consultants in the 2012/13 year given the record over the last three years.

To achieve effective governance in the Eastern Cape, we need a skilled public service that does not require us to waste billions on unnecessary consultant fees.

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