Water and sanitation department finances “messier than a pit latrine”
Bianca Capazorio | 2017-05-26 16:12:23.0
Minister Nomvula Mokonyane.
Image by: KEVIN SUTHERLAND / SUNDAY TIMES.
Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane’s budget vote very nearly didn’t get the buy-in from the portfolio committee – it’s financial state was describe as “messier than a pit latrine” by one opposition MP.
Parliament’s water and sanitation committee this week initially expressed strong reservations about signing off on the budget but‚ following an eleventh hour meeting on Thursday‚ the committee decided to adopt it “albeit with various concerns”.
Chief among these was an amount of R1.8 billion the department still owes contractors from the 2016/17 financial year‚ R18‚9 million in over-expenditure and the R8 billion debt book and R2.9 billion overdraft of the Water Trading Entity.
The committee said in a statement on Friday that it would exercise stricter control and has instituted quarterly meetings to track progress on these financial issues.
Mokonyane’s speech made no mention of her department’s economic woes. She chose to focus on projects currently under way and those already delivered.
Her department had only 25 000 bucket toilets left to remove. Of these‚ 14 000 were a “work in progress” and 11 000 would be tackled with “alternate technologies”.
She also thanked South Africans for saving water during the drought.
The Democratic Alliance’s Tarnia Baker said there was a “serious disconnect between planning and budget” in the department.
“Its finances are in a deeper‚ darker and messier state than one of its abandoned pit latrines” she said.
Chair of Parliament’s water and sanitation committee‚ ANC MP Lulu Johnson‚ said the department’s R15.1 billion budget for 2017 was less than that of the previous year‚ made up only two percent of the national allocations‚ and placed it 13th in the queue for allocations.
“This implies that service delivery is compromised‚” he said.
He said the department needed to avoid additional costs such as fines for late payments‚ adding that failure to pay contractors was “as good as killing them”.
Mokonyane said she would work with the department on matters of financial control.