Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize visit Tshwane District Hospital to monitor the level of preparedness as the province has become the epicenter for Covid-19. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)
Minister of health Dr Zweli Mkhize visit Tshwane District Hospital to monitor the level of preparedness as the province has become the epicenter for Covid-19. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency(ANA)

Five provinces record low spend on Covid-19 fund

By Mayibongwe Maqhina Time of article published Jul 22, 2020

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Johannesburg - Five provinces have recorded low expenditure on the R466-million emergency funds allocated and transferred for the buying of personal protection equipment (PPE) and ventilators in April.

Only four provinces fully spent the allocation made to the health sector from the provincial disaster relief grant.

This was revealed when the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department made a presentation on its adjusted Budget and Covid-19 interventions to the appropriations committee on Tuesday.

Director-general Avril Williamson said Gauteng (R115.9m), KwaZulu-Natal (R138.9m), Limpopo (R42m) and North West (R18.5m) were the provinces that fully spent their allocations.

Williamson said the Eastern Cape had spent a mere R3.1m out of its R44m, Western Cape R7.4m out of the R53.2m allocation, Free State R6.6m out of R12m and Northern Cape R1m out of its R6.2m.

Reasons for the low expenditure ranged from challenges in delivery of goods to implementation of interventions being still under way.

Although Mpumalanga spent the R33m allocation, the report submitted to the portfolio committee showed that the province was still finalising its implementation of interventions.

Williamson also said that R138m was allocated and had been transferred to provinces as part of drought-relief funds this month.

She said that only R8.4m was spent on the R150.9m allocated to municipalities for temporary sanitation and decontamination of selected public places as well as waste and refuse removal.

The Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga and Northern Cape recorded zero expenditure though funds were transferred in May for a six-month period.

Williamson told the MPs that only Gauteng, KZN, North West and the Western Cape had submitted expenditure reports. “Engagements are under way with respective provinces on

reporting and accounting for the allocation,” she said.

Williamson told the MPs that the R20m for local government that was announced by President Cyril Ramaphosa as part of the R500-billion relief measures was taken from existing budgets.

“This is not an increase in budget but rather the reallocation of funds from other government programmes provide for the municipality responses and interventions as part of government response to the Covid-19 epidemic,” said Williamson.

The amount allocated was for emergency water supply, sanitisation of public transport and facilities as well as provision of shelter and food for the homeless.

A total of R11bn was from the local government equitable share and R9.4bn was obtained from repurposing allocations already made to municipalities through the Division of Revenue Act.

Chief director for municipal finance Mbulelo Sigaba said that the R11bn to be transferred to municipalities would supplement households that were not be able to pay for services.

“We estimate the number to increase to 14 million households.”

Sigaba said that the amount would also supplement the loss in revenue the municipalities would suffer due to the Covid-19.

He also said the R9bn from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant was not reduced but re-purposed to respond to Covid-19.

“The focus was on water-related infrastructure. We have not reduced allocation for MIG but responded to Covid demands,” Sigaba said.

Deputy Minister Obed Bapela said a number of municipalities were going to run short of money as the estimated revenue to be collected would be less because people were unemployed.

Bapela said Gauteng municipalities were already short R5bn and Rustenburg municipality in North West had reported a R1.2bn deficit.

“Post-Covid, we will have a difficult environment, financially,” he said.

Political Bureau

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