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Johannesburg - The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Friday reiterated its claims that national and provincial governments owe businesses a combined R7.1 billion in unpaid bills - something the party said was an indication the state mooted National Health Insurance (NHI) would not work.

"The DA can today reveal that the collapse of the South African public service’s ability to execute its most basic functions is accelerating," the party said in a statement attributed to MP Leon Schreiber, the DA Shadow Minister for Public Service and Administration. 

Schreiber said two months ago, the DA reported that national and provincial governments owed businesses a combined R7.1 billion in unpaid invoices older than 30 days at the end of March 2019. 

The massive government debt accrued from unpaid invoices with the department of health identified as the worst offender. 

At the end of March 2019,  provincial health departments owed R5.8 billion in unpaid invoices older than 30 day and they had racked up additional unpaid debt of R3.7 billion.

"Today we can reveal that, in the span of only three months between April and June 2019, provincial governments have racked up an additional R4.3 billion in debt that it failed to pay to the hardworking businesspeople and workers of South Africa," said Schreiber. 

"This constitutes clear evidence that the public service is nowhere near equipped to run the R256 billion NHI fund. 

"The government cannot even ensure that the current public health sector pays providers and other contractors on time, yet they expect South Africans to put their lives in the hands of the same incompetent and corrupt cadres who cannot even process invoices."

Schreiber said the only exception was DA-run Western Cape, which accounts for only 0.01% of outstanding debt. 

The DA reiterated its call to the ANC-led government to scrap its plans for "nationalising" healthcare through the planned NHI.

However, commenting on the revelations the Department of Health said most of the invoices received had been settled. The department said of the invoices received 12,792 had been paid and only 2,928 were still outstanding for up to 60 days and 1, 830 were yet to be paid in 30 days.

“Delays in payment can be attributed to but not limited to the following: differences between the invoiced amount and the Purchase Order; differences between quantity delivered vs quantity ordered; suppliers delivering on expired Purchase Orders and lastly because of disputed invoices.”  explained department spokesperson, Kwara Kekana. 

She said the department was embracing ICT platforms using E-invoice in order to improve supply chain processes and prevent corruption and fraud in the department.

African News Agency (ANA)