Government department

Houses of Parliament (Cape Town, South Africa)

Key government departments fail to spend their budgets

The guilty government departments include the police, health, transport, cooperative governance and traditional affairs, and environmental affairs.

Government department

Houses of Parliament (Cape Town, South Africa)

Several critical government departments are not spending the money given to them by government according to a presentation from National Treasury to the national council of provinces (NCOP) joint standing committee on appropriations.

Government departments underspending

The news seems to be completely at odds with a South African economy that has pretty much becoming synonymous with poor service delivery at government level.

It raises serious questions about how the departments are being managed that they can suffer from a lack of service delivery and not be spending their budgets at the same time.

The presentation showed a pattern of underspending in key departments associated with service delivery for the 4th Quarter of the 2018/2019 financial year.

Prominent departments underspending include:

  • Police (R1.3 billion)
  • Health (R966 million)
  • Transport (R640 million)

Other departments with underspending include:

  • Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (R3.2 billion)
  • National Treasury (R1.1 billion)
  • Environmental Affairs (R702 million)

DA want answers

The Democratic Alliance (DA) made a request in the meeting for all these Departments to be summoned to appear before the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations to account for their underspending and detail a way forward.

“This underspending is indicative of mismanagement and corruption at these departments, which is concerning since they play such a critical role in delivering services, yet they are unable to use the budgets given to them to deliver on their mandates,” said Dennis Ryder, the DA’s representative on the NCOP committee for appropriations.

“The R966 million underspending at the Health Department is alarming, given that many of the country’s hospitals are completely dilapidated and have become sites of violence, whilst KwaZulu-Natal has been hamstrung by the ongoing oncology crisis.

“The Department of Police underspent by R1.3 billion, money which could have been allocated to curb gang violence on the Cape Flats and resourcing police to curb rural crime and violence.”

Overall, 24 departments failed to spend 100% of their allocated budget. Ryder calls this a gross disservice to South African citizens.

“With billions having been underspent, South Africans are receiving the short end of government’s stick,” he said.

“Government needs to start prioritising services to the people by trimming the fat and capacitating departments to ensure that they meet their budgetary targets and that the needs of the people of South Africa are met.”