Provincial spending on track: report

4 February 2003

Nine months into financial year 2002/03 and government’s provincial spending is said to be on track, with provinces having already spent R104.5-billion, or 71.1%, of their total budgets, according to the Third Quarterly Expenditure and Revenue Report.

This is R16.8-billion more than its expenditure at the same time last year, said the document released by the National Treasury in Pretoria on Friday.

“Provincial expenditure is now comparable with national departments’ expenditure of R87.5-billion or 73.8% spent (or transferred) for the same nine-month period,” the report stated.

Provinces have collected 93% of budgeted own revenue of R4.4-billion for the year, collecting R4.1-billion after nine months.

“The high 93% collection may be an indication of provinces being modest in their revenue projections in their initial budgets, as the R4.3-billion budgeted amount is still less than the R4.5-billion actually collected in the previous year,” the report noted.

The collection varies from a low of 77.3% in Gauteng to a high of 148.8% collected in the Eastern Cape.

The report explained that national government had transferred R88.8-billion of the equitable share, and R9.7-billion in conditional grants, to provinces in the first nine months.

According to the report, education expenditure is at R39-billion or 74.2% of the budget of the adjusted R52.5-billion. Health expenditure is at R23.8-billion or 72% of the adjusted budget of R33-billion.

On social development, provinces spent R23.8-billion or 74.3% of their revised budget in the first nine months of the financial year.

“This represents a massive increase over the R17.1-billion spent for the same period last year. The reason for this is the acceleration in the take-up of the Child Support and Disability Grants, as well as payment of the R2-billion social grant arrears (transferred on the last day of the previous financial year),” the report said.

However, the biggest provincial capital budgets are for public works, roads and transport.

“These departments are performing the best, having spent R2.9-billion or 68% of their R4.2-billion budget. The spending compares well with the R2-billion spent last year for the same period, and to the full-year spending of R3.2-billion last year.”

Between provinces, the lowest spending is in North West (42.3%), while Gauteng recorded 116.5% in spending.

Head of inter-governmental relations in the National Treasury, Ismail Momoniat, said the fact that the problem of under-spending had been addressed was a good sign.

However, he said there was a need for national departments and portfolio committees to check on the ground as to whether the money had indeed been spent correctly.

“It is good that sectors like education, health and social development are spending their monies. We assume that clinics are being upgraded, social services are improved and children, elderly and the disabled are getting their grants,” Momoniat said.

Source: BuaNews