Parliament slams Dept of Water and Sanitation for failing to spend R2bn of its budget

25th May 2022 By: News24Wire

While several communities are not receiving quality water and sanitation services, the Department of Water and Sanitation failed to spend more than R2-billion in the 2021-2022 financial year.

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation expressed its concern after learning about this in a committee meeting on Tuesday.

A statement from committee chairperson Robert Mashego said, "Furthermore, the committee finds it ironic and unacceptable given the fact that many communities don't get quality water services."

"The under expenditure has a direct link to non-completion of critical projects that are intended to ensure that people have access to water. This is unacceptable and undermines the drive to improve the socio-economic conditions of the people of South Africa," Mashego said.

The committee's concerns were based on the fact that some significant contributors to the reported under expenditure included the Regional Bulk Infrastructure Grant and Water Services Infrastructure Grant that had projects such as the Bucket Eradication Programme and drought intervention committed projects and the Vaal River System Intervention.

The committee accepted that the department applied to National Treasury that the unspent budget be rolled over to the next financial year. However, it highlighted that "the rollover doesn't acquit the department from the sin of under expenditure".

The committee called on the department to urgently work on remedial actions to prevent future recurrence of under expenditure.

Also of concern was that the department recorded under expenditure of R112.421-million due to a reduced rate of filling vacancies, despite South Africa's high unemployment rate.

The committee found this unacceptable, as some projects were delayed due to the department's capacity challenges.

The committee welcomed the appointment of 854 engineers and scientists and said it hoped it would add some capacity to the department and be in a better position to implement its projects.

The committee was concerned by irregular expenditure of R9.347-billion for the department's main account and R8.107-billion for the Water Trading Entity.

The committee was of the view that adherence to procurement policies and laws was important to prevent corrupt tendencies from taking root within the department.