Provincial government departments have only been able to spend about 30% of their overall annual budget for the current financial year.
The figure was revealed during an Eastern Cape provincial government executive council meeting held virtually on Wednesday.
Provincial government departments had spent R25,973bn of their R85,406bn annual budget by the end of July 2020, with the Covid-19 pandemic given as the reason for only being able to spend 30.4% of their allocated budget.
To address the low expenditure levels, departments developed expenditure recovery plans and submitted them to the office of the premier and provincial treasury to scrutinise and ensure proper monitoring of implementation.
At the same meeting, it was discovered that 565 provincial government employees had raked in government tenders worth a combined R46.9m between April and June.
Finance MEC Mlungisi Mvoko told the provincial executive council on Wednesday that there were 565 provincial government employees red-flagged as having done business with the same government they draw their salaries from.
Mvoko said their companies were registered on the government’s central supplier database (CSD).
This is in contravention of regulations which forbid state employees from doing business with their employer.
Premier Oscar Mabuyane’s spokesperson, Mvusiwekhaya Sicwetsha, told The Herald’s sister publication Daily Dispatch that the only departments where employees had not benefited from state tenders were the office of the premier, treasury, economic development, environmental affairs and tourism, and safety and liaison — four out of 12.
These departments, Sicwetsha said, were the only ones that did not have employees registered on the database or doing business with the state.
The provincial cabinet recommended this week that the 565 public servants be held to account.
Sicwetsha did not specify whether they would have to pay back the money or whether the tenders were for Covid-19 procurement.
“Exco has resolved that heads of departments must take necessary remedial action against all these potential conflicted officials,” Sicwetsha said.
“It has also resolved that remedial action be taken against the officials of departments responsible for sourcing quotations, serving in bid evaluation committees, and supply chain management officials who were responsible for the awarding of such tenders to fellow government employees.”
Heads of departments, Sicwetsha said, would then have to submit reports to the provincial administration head, director-general Mbulelo Sogoni, on what action has been taken against the conflicted officials.
But Sicwetsha said there was no time frame given on when the reports should be submitted to Sogoni.
The executive council also resolved that due to lockdown levels being eased, departments had to improve their expenditure and delivery of projects.
In relation to the underspent budgets, Sicwetsha said the money would be used for what it was intended.
According to a statement released on Thursday by the office of the premier, performance of the delivery of infrastructure was also affected by the lockdown.
Departments were putting together infrastructure recovery plans outlining how they would speed up infrastructure rollout which would be submitted to the office of the premier by the end of August.
The statement read: “The provincial government has appointed Coega to lead packaging of its infrastructure projects to be used to source funding from the national government’s infrastructure funding programme.
“This will help the provincial government submit bankable infrastructure projects for funding so that strategic infrastructure projects of the province are funded to yield economic injection to create jobs.
“To grow the economy in pursuit of the 5% economic growth by 2030, increase investments into the province to 27.1% of the GDP by 2030 [is planned].”
The executive council, according to the statement, approved the economic recovery plan which focuses on using infrastructure development to promote economic growth.