Gauteng health underspends on hospital repairs

About R83-million stands to be lost in unspent money allocated for hospital infrastructure in Gauteng, the Democratic Alliance said on Monday.

This figure was reported in the second quarterly report of the Gauteng provincial government, tabled recently in the Gauteng legislature, MPL Mike Moriarty said in a statement.

It covers the period from July to September.

Moriarty said R143-million was allocated by National Treasury for badly-needed repairs in Gauteng public hospitals, but only R26-million, which is 18% of the cash, was spent after six months.

Spending in the first quarter was only 9%, at which stage assurances were given that it was a project management issue and capacity was being added, Moriarty said.

“At this rate, the department will have under-spent by two-thirds of its entire budget by the end of the financial year,” he said.

“Clearly, whatever the provincial government has done to bring about improvement is not working.”

The solution was to fire incompetent officials, Moriarty said.

“Until then we do not believe there will be any improvement and health care, especially for the poor, [who] will continue to suffer.”

In responding to questions posed by the Mail & Guardian, Gauteng health department spokesperson Simon Zwane said it was premature to predict an underspend in hospital infrastructure in the province.

“It’s too soon to say we will lose money as their calculations are only based on the second quarterly report. We still have a full two quarters to spend this money where it is needed and we are confident we will do so,” Zwane said.

Zwane pointed to the almost completed trio of hospitals in Germiston, Natalspruit and Zola, which will all need to be furnished with medical infrastructure and machinery, as a sign of the intention to fully spend the budget allocation.

“I can guarantee a gradual increase in our infrastructure spend as we enter into the latter part of the financial year,” Zwane added. — Sapa

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