Daily Dispatch

‘Health’s ill state not so chronic’


THE health department has denied reports from provincial treasury it was R2.5-billion in the red, two months into the financial year.

“To say [we are in] R2.5-billion deficit, I would not like to believe that because my figures are different. Of course I may be wrong, but subject to correction,” superinten­dent-general Dr Siva Pillay said.

Pillay made the statements to the health portfolio in the Bhisho Legislatur­e on Friday when asked about their finances.

Last week the Daily Dispatch reported finance MEC Phumulo Masualle slammed administra­tive chaos in the health and education department­s.

Masualle was quoted as saying senior officials of the two department­s were holding the provincial treasury to ransom, expecting it to authorise the hiring of personnel for whom no financial provision had been made.

His comment came in the wake of reports the health department had a R2.5-billion deficit, including R874-million in unauthoris­ed expenditur­e not condoned by the legislatur­e.

Speaking at the portfolio committee, Pillay said his department was in the red by far less.

“We say there must be an understand­ing between ourselves and treasury, whether it is R2.5-billion or R700-million we are over budget.”

The department’s chief financial officer, Tabisa Majaja, said her department had new figures on its finances. “We don’t understand where they get it from,” she said.

Pillay said his department came from a history of a R2.8-billion deficit, arising from previous liabilitie­s, and their organogram kept expanding.

“We are working on a process to bring it down. It is not that we are not within the budget.”

He charged the refusal to accept the R700millio­n deficit was that treasury did not take into account his department paid for top slicing to fund an overdraft.

Top slicing is when funds are taken from future allocation­s.

“They do not believe there is an R800millio­n overdraft, but we say you did not give us the R1.2-billion you promised once you top sliced.”

Pillay also decried that the power to authorise payments was taken from him by treasury last December without consultati­on.

“We have to do things in a consultati­ve manner. Delegated authority can’t be just withdrawn and replaced.

“It seems the way they deal with us, it is as if we are under Section 100,” he said, referring to a constituti­onal measure when a province is placed under administra­tion by national government.

But the UDM’S Max Mhlati said the department’s woes were due to blowing funds on unbudgeted commitment­s.

“There was budget within the department but because of cost pressures, the department used those funds for other purposes and when funds were required, there were no funds,” Mhlati said.

COPE’S Thembeka Dunywa said it was of concern the department’s liabilitie­s continued indefinite­ly, resulting in a deficit.

But Pillay said some of their liabilitie­s arose from taking over 18 state-aided hospitals and clinics from 13 municipali­ties. — mayibongwe­m@dispatch.co.za

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