By Francois Rodgers, MPL, DA KZN Spokesperson on Finance:
DURING last weeks’ debate on KZN’s 2014/15 close out reports the DA exposed an almost R1 billion under spend by provincial government – a figure which is in stark contrast to the R422 million reported by Treasury and the chairperson of the Finance Portfolio Committee.
The difference comes after provincial government failed to include a R523million under spend by KZN public entities as well as R20million in unspent conditional grants, bringing the total under spend in the province to R965 million.
The KZN government’s failure to include these figures is both inaccurate and disingenuous.
The close out report also reveals that the province’s Transport, Social Development and Health departments unilaterally made use of exclusive and appropriated funds to defray spending pressure elsewhere within their budgets. This is in direct contravention of the PFMA and Treasury regulations.
KZN’s Department of Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs (EDTEA) was also found to have contravened the PFMA. This after the department requested a R11million virement from Treasury after it had funded events including the Richards Bay Imbizo, Durban Summer festival, Umgababa New Years Eve Picnic and Fact Durban Rocks without having the monies to do so. This irregular expenditure is nothing new for this department which receives annual warnings from Treasury. Yet the trend continues unabated.
During the debate, the DA questioned KZN Finance MEC, Belinda Scott, over the lack of real consequences for officials who ignore relevant legislation and policy when it comes to provincial expenditure.
The MEC’s response was that while she has the power to enforce the law, KZN’s Finance portfolio committee that has the authority to instruct implicated departments to instigate necessary legal steps against officials found guilty of any contravention.
The DA has therefore written to KZN’s Finance committee Chair, KK Nkosi, requesting that in terms of section 38(1)(h)(i) of the PFMA the four implicated departments – Transport, Social Development, Health and EDTEA – are instructed by the Finance Portfolio Committee to commence with the relevant legal action against implicated officials.
I have subsequently received a response from the Chair in which he confirms that he is in the process of doing so.
The DA welcomes this move. We will continue to monitor this process to ensure that those found guilty of any contravention of the legal framework face the full might of the law.
The time has come for KZN’s government to walk the talk.