Scopa refuses to approve provincial health department's budget for next year
PATIENTS relying on Gauteng's already strained state hospitals should brace themselves for a further deterioration of services because an estimated R234-million is likely to be missing from next year"s provincial health budget.
This comes as the legislature's standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) refused to approve R234.67-million the department had classified as unauthorised expenditure.
Before making its decision the committee was called on to consider condoning a massive R4.7-billion unauthorised expenditure bill, accumulated between the 2005-06 and 2010-11 financial years.
The Gauteng health budget for the 2012-13 financial year is R24.5-billion.
On the implications of the committee's decision, department chairman Sipho Makama said: "It's either the department has lost that money (for good) or they will have to find ways to recoup it.
"It also means that the (national) Treasury won't fund the money and when next year's budget is finalised, that amount will automatically be taken out of the budget."
The largest amount rejected was R136.78-million, which was said to have been used for the roll-out of the Health Information System (HIS) and Health Smart Card.
Committee members were unanimous in their decision not to condone the expenditure, with some claiming not to know that the system had been implemented.
Said committee member Peter Willemburg: "As far as we know, smart health cards are nonexistent. It's just a waste of money."
The committee again refused to approve an additional sum of R19.825-million - spent on the same system and smart cards - for the 2009-10 financial year.
According to the report the department claimed twice that it had hoped the revenue generated from the system - once implemented - "will fund the budget needed for a further roll-out at health facilities".
The department explained that "the funding was aimed at improving patient administration, reducing waiting times and correcting patient classification".
Scopa also did not approve of the R41.724-million spent on project management consultants, leasing of offices and security services.
There also was R1.175-million for employees who had reached retirement as well as those who died while employed by the department.
There was also an amount of R16-million, which the department claimed was for "internal claims from institutions".
The committee said this expenditure was not approved because the department failed to give enough clarity.
A significant chunk of the department's unauthorised expenditure came as a result of numerous occupation-specific dispensation payments. - email@example.com