COGHSTA under the scope

Scopa Chairperson, Snowy Kennedy is calling for Scopa to do reports on the issues found in the recent hearing.

POLOKWANE – The Department of Cooperative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs (Coghsta) appeared before the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) last week, among other to give reasons as to the department’s exorbitant under-spending for the last four years.

The department’s total underspending in terms of the Human Settlement Grant funding stands at R1,48 billion for the financial years 2013 to 2017.

In real terms, 26 500 houses could have been built had better planning been done in terms of how to appropriate the grant.

If a conditional grant is underspent or not utilised, the money is returned to National Treasury.

The following budgets were allocated to address the housing backlog in the province in those years, but withheld by National Treasury due to continuous underspending:
• R855 million in 2013 /2014 financial year;
• R559 million in 2014 /2015 financial year;
• R68,7 million in 2015 / 2016 financial year; and
• R800 000 in 2016/2017 financial year.

According to the DA Provincial Leader, Jacques Smalle, the party is gravely concerned by the millions of Rand that continue to be lost through underspending.

“Last week it was revealed that in the 2016/17 financial year, the department incurred R463 million in underspend on critical programmes and have applied for a R394 million rollover.

“The main reasons for underspending across the department’s programmes were poor performance, the late appointment of contractors, underperformance due to scattered development areas and unavailability of geotechnical reports.”

Crucial programmes such as the Rectification Programme which is meant to fix RDP housing, which does not meet specification in order for it to be given to beneficiaries, were affected by an underspend of R20 million, he added.

“The budgeting for rectification in itself sees more expenditure on housing that has already been paid for, and highlights the department’s poor management, lack of planning and improper criteria in selecting contractors.”

This continuous underspending by Coghsta is a slap in the face of every person in our province who still does not receive adequate basic services and the vulnerable in our communities who have been waiting for RDP houses for years now.

Political will is needed to hold officials accountable for this underspend according to the Code of Conduct for Public Servants and the Public Financial Management Act (PFMA).”

Smalle has called on the MEC, Makoma Makhurupetje to outline her plans to prevent underspending in the future.

[email protected]

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Riana Joubert

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