Gauteng depts instructed to monitor spending

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pretoria - Departments under the Gauteng Provincial Government have been instructed to monitor their spending more robustly in light of the tough economic climate.

Departments are experiencing serious spending pressures and cash flow problems which may result in substantial overspending.

During an ordinary meeting on Thursday, the provincial Executive Council warned that no department would be allowed to overspend or implement projects for which no budgetary allocations have been made.

"Heads of department will have to ensure that their departments have effective, efficient and transparent systems for financial and risk management and internal controls," the council said.

The Department of Finance was tasked with meeting the various departments to identify programmes that can be reprioritised and contracts that can be cancelled or rescheduled in line with the council decision to reprioritise programmes and review all contracts within the provincial government.

The council further agreed that the Department of Finance will make recommendations to the council on which programmes should be reprioritised and which contracts should be terminated or rescheduled.

The council acknowledged the progress made in terms of paying outstanding debts to service providers in Operation Badala.

The operation was launched to ensure that all monies owed to suppliers for service rendered during the 2008/9 financial year are paid by the end of September 2009. It has subsequently been extended.

However, the operation had uncovered some systemic problems which led to departments being unable to properly monitor their financial commitments and manage cash flow.

The council was assured that the systemic problems are being resolved and the Department of Finance was working with departments to deal with any other outstanding debts.

It was also noted that the outstanding debts could not be cleared at the end of September as initially promised due to cash flow problems.

As the outstanding debts relate to goods and services that were procured during the financial year 2008-2009 financial year, it was noted that the departments have to find funds to service the debts from the current financial year's allocations.

This together with the current spending pressures means departments have to reprioritise some of their current programmes.

During the meeting, the Executive Council approved the revised Gauteng Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS.

This plan aims to drastically reduce new HIV infections in Gauteng to achieve a target of 50 percent reduction in new infections by 2011 as well as prevent death from AIDS by extending treatment, care and support to 80 percent of people with HIV.

The plan also seeks to support normal development of children affected by AIDS.

"The plan will focus on promoting increased safe sex behaviour for key population groups, reducing vulnerability and gender inequality, further reduction of HIV in babies by fully implementing the Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission policy and encouraging male circumcision for the youth," said the council.

To achieve 80 percent antiretroviral treatment for people living with HIV, the plan will increase the number of specialised antiretroviral services and the percentage of local primary health care clinics which can follow up people who are well.