Provincial Welfare Expenditure: briefing

Social Development

09 March 2000
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Meeting report

PROVINCIAL WELFARE EXPENDITURES

WELFARE & POPULATION DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 March 2000
PROVINCIAL WELFARE EXPENDITURES


Documents Handed Out:
Overview of Provincial Welfare Budget 2000/1
Idasa Quarterly Sectoral Report: Welfare
Idasa Brief: Basic Income Grant: Some Concerns

Presentation
Ms Lydia Ntenga of Idasa's Budget Information Service briefed the committee on the Provincial Welfare Budgets (see the documents).

Discussion
(Q) A committee member asked why the welfare expenditures for the Free State had not been included in the presentation?

(A) Ms Ntenga responded that the provincial budget for the Free State was tabled too late to include in the presentation.

(Q) Ms Cupido (ANC) asked why the approximately R203 million from the 1999/2000 financial year appeared again in the 2000/01 and 2001/2002 financial years? [see relevant news article]

(A) Ms Ntenga replied that the numbers had been taken from the national expenditure survey, but that to her knowledge 64% of the R203 million had already been spent, with projected expenditures of 90% by the end of the financial year. The Chair queried the validity of the statistics, and stated that it was a matter that would be discussed with the Department.

(Q) Professor Mbadi (UDM) asked for clarity on the rumors that the Department would be decreasing spending on social services?

(A) Ms Ntenga believed there would not be a decrease in social services spending, but rather savings as a result of re-registration and the phasing in of child support grants in place of child-maintenance grants. She felt that these savings would enable more money to be allocated to the poorer provinces. The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
Watchdog shakes stick at welfare sector
Independent Online
March 06 2000 at 10:52PM
Parliament's watchdog public accounts and welfare committees have joined forces to take action after the Welfare Department left millions of poor people in the lurch by failing to spend most of its poverty relief budget.

Public accounts committee chairperson Gavin Woods said on Monday he was checking to see whether the department's director-general, Angela Bester, had met Friday's deadline for a report on how her department was addressing the crisis.

If she had failed to submit the report, he would draft a strongly worded letter reminding her that her department was accountable to parliament.

A probe by Auditor-General Shauket Fakie showed that less than 1 percent of R204-million allocated for poverty relief was used in the 1998/99 financial year.

Woods said his committee would focus on the under-spent funds while the welfare committee concentrated on the delivery aspect.

"The department has to explain to the public accounts committee why it continues to ask the government for extra funds but fails to use them.

"Welfare will deal with the crucial issue, which is the fact that this under-spending has denied delivery to the poor, who are supposed to benefit from the poverty relief funds," he said.

At a meeting with the welfare portfolio committee last week, Bester said while funds had since been shifted to an independent agency that distributed them to individual projects, the department had no mechanism for monitoring that funds went to targeted beneficiaries.

She promised that urgent measures would be taken to ensure a proper monitoring strategy was in place.

The poverty funds debacle has sparked a search for a scapegoat, with Welfare Minister Zola Skweyiya heaping blame on the department he inherited, and for which Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi was previously responsible.

Fraser-Moleketi took over in 1996 after the National Party's Abe Williams left government, and was succeeded by Skweyiya after last year's election.

The department has gone through six directors-general in six years. Programmes that were implemented were those for children, the elderly and the disabled.

Responding in an interview with Independent Newspapers' Reconstruct, Fraser-Moleketi said it was a documented fact that the department was "inappropriately structured".

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