Budget vote speech: Treasury

By Langa Bodlani, DA MPL:

The following speech was delivered by Langa Bodlani DA MPL, to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature on 02 June 2015 during the Debate on the 2015 Budget of the Department of Treasury.

Madam Speaker

Honourable members

Ladies and gentlemen

The DA wishes to congratulate the new MEC Honourable Tooley as the new MEC for Treasury.

We hope you will continue with the measures that were put in place by your very able predecessor to make sure that not a department nor a state entity or local government sphere collapses because of lack of proper oversight.

To Honourable Phala, none dares the assertion that in your role as and as part of the executive, you played it par excellence.

Your erudition as a speaker, even if I have to confess myself, sometimes did dislodge us as the opposition.

More importantly your understanding of the legal framework within which treasury must operate gave us all hope that we were indeed on the path of financial recovery as a province.

Honourable  Member

The acknowledgement by the MEC on the mandate of his department to exercise control over implementation of the provincial budget by provincial departments is welcome by the DA.

We hope that with the appointments of the new staff, we will see improvement in the audit reports of the province.

Honourable Speaker

Whilst there was a decline in a number of qualified opinions and the decline in disclaimers there seems to be a continuation of instability with our municipalities.

Whist these are a sphere of government on their own, the law does allow the Treasury MEC to intervene when things have degenerated into utter collapse as is happening in a number of our municipalities.

The low expenditure patterns of conditional grants by Limpopo’s provincial departments are very concerning.

According to the document handed to the portfolio committee on provincial treasury, as at 31 January 2015, R5.3 billion out of R7.8 billion on conditional grants was spent. This effectively meant a mere 68.1 % of the entire budget on conditional grants was spent.

Honourable members

To put this in context, close to R2 billion worth of rands remain unlikely to be spent by the time the 2014/15 financial year ends on 31 March 2015.

Failure to spend these grants is an affront to our people who rely on government to provide them with services.

Madam Speaker

Coghsta is the worst performing department which recorded a failure to spend R559 million.

This failure to spend conditional grants is a reflection of poor management by the ANC.

Provincial Treasury is the custodian of our provincial coffers and MEC when he responds must tell Limpopo citizens how he plans to reverse this under-expenditure   trend in the province.

Honourable members

The worst performer, second only to Coghsta, is the department of Sports, Arts and Culture.  This department is responsible for our community’s libraries and yet it was only able to utilise R36 million out of R95 million when our communities are still struggling to have proper libraries with resources.

This annuls your own injunction that the doors of learning and culture shall be open.

Ladies and Gentlemen

The health department shifted R 42 million meant for HIV/AIDS grant to goods and services. This is totally unacceptable given the fact that our people who are on chronic medication are returned daily due to shortages of these medicines.

Treasury must play its effective oversight to make sure that these potentially illegal shifting of funds does not happen.