Amid the massive increase in irregular spending by top government officials, metros affected by the unfriendly Durban storm still lacks funds to repair most of its Metropolitan Municipalities that have been left devastated.
KZN Premier Willies Mchunu declared certain locations in the province as disaster areas after being severely hit by flooding and driving rain.
The Premier told the media that since making submissions to the National Treasury concerning the Durban storm damage, no money has so far been sent to the provincial government’s hands in that aspect.
The National Treasury was supposed to release funds from the Contingency Disaster Relief Fund but a national finance portfolio committee member gave reasons why these monies aren’t yet going for the rehabilitation, saying the contingency reserve for disaster was “exhausted” because was used to bail out the South African Airways (SAA).
The DA MP Alf Lees confirmed this when he revealed that there are no funds to bail out one of the Durban storm-damaged areas, eThekwini, to repair, replace and rehabilitate areas.
Close to R100-million is said to be needed to repairs healthcare facilities in KwaZulu-Natal following the recent devastating storm. The provincial health department had earlier released a report on the toll of destruction‚ following an assessment of facilities that had extensive structural damage.
It said a sum of R98.2-million is required and will necessitate the involvement of the Department of Public Works‚ the Treasury Crack Team and the Department of Health.
Durban’s Wentworth Hospital requires R28.4-million for repair work. Damage includes roofs that were blown off various wards and departments.
Other facilities affected include KwaDabeka Community Health Centre‚ St Aidan’s Hospital‚ Osindisweni Hospital‚ Clairwood Hospital‚ Ekuhlengeni Hospital‚ Prince Mshiyeni Memorial Hospital‚ KwaZulu Central Laundry‚ Addington Hospital‚ King Edward VIII Hospital‚ the Provincial Pharmaceutical Supply Depot and Charles James Hospital.
Replacement or repairs to roofs and rebuilding of walls are listed at most of the facilities‚ while some require new equipment because water damaged the existing units.
But, Lees revealed that the National Disaster Management Centre, which pumps funds to the disaster fund, only had an annual budget of R500million which would not be used to fund the storm-torn areas alone.
“In terms of the bigger picture, the country’s finances look grim and I don’t think we can afford R2billion to fund the repairs, replacements and rehabilitation of the areas affected by the storm.
“We don’t have money for the right things, yet we spend much of the wrong things. The government spent R10billion on the Eskom bailout and R3.7billion on the post office. And the Auditor-General also exposed R60billion in irregular expenditure,” Lees said.
The DA MP also stated that the South African government was borrowing from banks worldwide annually and that the interest on those loans, plus salaries and wages were “almost half” the country’s revenue.
“Thirteen percent in tax money goes to servicing the loans. This year alone, interest on those loans stands at R163billion. Staff salaries and social grants aren’t helping the situation.
“The country is indeed in a difficult situation to navigate and our debt book is sitting at R2.294 trillion in the current financial year,” he said.
The country’s GDP currently sits at R4.6trillion, and the National Treasury projects a revenue shortfall of R50.8bn in 2017/18.
However, irregular expenditure by government departments and state-owned entities increased to just over R45-billion in the 2016/17 financial year.
That, according to the Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu, is an increase of 55 percent from the previous year. He also said this figure could increase because some entities did not submit financial statements.