Citizens foot bill for Education department’s debt

Bosman Grobler MPL

DA spokesperson on SCOPA:

Mpumalanga’s citizens will have to foot a bill of more than R25.6 million for debts that the department of Education has deemed irrecoverable and must be written off in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

The department indicated that some of the reasons the R25.6 million couldn’t be recovered was because some debts belonged to debtors with financial difficulties while the debts of ex-employees were struck off if they showed no movement in the current year.

According to the findings of the Auditor General, the Department of Education has the third highest amount of irregular expenditure at R56 million and the second highest amount of fruitless and wasteful expenditure at R5.7 million.

In its document on fruitless and wasteful expenditure, the department lists overpayments of leave, overtime, qualification bonuses basic salary arrears and acting allowance arrears as some of the debt they have created. While the department has recovered most of this, overpayment on leave gratuities amounting to R1.5 million is still under investigation.

The department hired a debt collector to recover the owed funds but this debt collector failed to recover any significant amount. The services of this debt collector add to the fruitless expenditure because despite the fact that debt collector’s appointment yielded no results, payment must be made for ‘services rendered’.

The DA will submit parliamentary questions to the MEC for Education, Reginah Mhaule asking who this debt collector was and how much was paid for their services.

The department of Education gets the bulk of Mpumalanga’s money from the National Treasury. This money should be spent on building schools and supporting education initiatives and must not be wasted on overpayments and dubious debt collectors.