Public Works waiting for National Treasury guidance on budget changes
Cape Town - The Department of Public Works and Infrastructure is waiting for guidance from National Treasury regarding the adjustment of its budget for the 2020-21 financial year.
This comes as departments have had to divert funds as part of government's strategy to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.
Briefing a joint meeting of parliamentary committees on Wednesday, Deputy Minister Noxolo Kiviet said they presented their strategic plans and annual performance programme amid the country facing sluggish economic growth.
"We are doing that in the space where our processes and plans are going to be disturbed a bit because of the current situation of the Coronavirus which has diverted our focus and plans because in March and April we have not done what we should have done," Kiviet said.
She added: "Therefore, at some point, guided by the Treasury, we will adjust our plans accordingly.
We are trying our best as the department to contribute to alleviate the pressure the citizens are feeling around the question of Covid-19."
She also said despite the high unemployment rate and sluggish economy, infrastructure has been identified as the backbone through which the country can rebuild the economy and deal with high unemployment.
Chief finance officer Mandla Sithole echoed Kiviet's sentiments saying the budget was done last year and presented early this year by Mboweni.
"Because of Covid-19, it is highly likely that there will be a lot of changes when the Treasury starts saying surrender certain money," Sithole said in reference to funds not spent in the last two months.
He projected the budget changes to be made when Mboweni tabled a budget estimate later this year.
The budget and annual plans tabled at the meeting showed that the total budget stood at R8 billion, with a R113 milion from the last financial year.
The department has identified a number of programmes for the year.
This includes identifying one of the country's cities for redesign and refurbishment as a smart city.
It also plans to introduce the Expropriation Bill in Parliament in the last quarter of the financial year.
There are also plans to release 34995 hectares of land for development of infrastructure programmes and lease put 70 unutilised vacant state owned properties as well as reduce private leasing of buildings within the security cluster.
MPs raised concerns with targets set by the department on some programmes and lack in others.
DA MP Tim Brauteseth said he noted that amount to be spent on parliamentary villages and accommodation of the executive.
He said in light of Covid-19 the department should consider putting on hold some of its programmes to refurbish the parliamentary villages and assist citizens who some were facing starvation.
EFF MP Mathapelo Siwisa noted with concern that the department had been able to identify properties to be used for quarantine when it continued to lease properties from the private sector.
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