Local Bodies Need Model
Please go back to the drawing board and come up with a simple model on how best municipalities can access the Expanded Public Works Performance Incentive Grant. That was the instruction of the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations and the Portfolio Committee on Public Works yesterday to the Departments of Public Works, Cooperative Government and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA), the National Treasury, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA).
According to Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations Mr Elliot Sogoni he wants a model that clearly spells out how the Public Works Incentive Grant can be effectively and successfully utilized by municipalities. “As things stand, the uptake of this grant has not been as successful as we would like it to be, and your model does not seem to help either. It appears to be disjointed and does not include all role players” said Mr Sogoni.
The model which was supposed to be a culmination of the joint effort by National Treasury and Public Works on the review of the Performance Incentive Grant saw each of the role players individually presenting their views on what it should be, while the Committee expect a unified model to be tabled for their consideration.
The Department of Public Works’ Deputy Director-General Mr Stanley Henderson said that their performance-based incentive was provided to provincial and municipal public bodies who participated in Expanded Public Works Programmes. “This allocation is based on how many jobs can be created with funds already being received through other grants such as the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG)” Mr Henderson said.
In their proposal, Public Works recommends that the new model should take special cognisance of small and rural municipalities and other public bodies that have smaller MIG allocations or limited funding, but have the potential to contribute to job creation. The Deputy Director- General of CoGTA Mr Ricardo Hansby said the scheme in its present form did not cater for municipalities in rural areas, adding that the requirements of all bodies were the same regardless of size.
Mr Douglas Cohen of SALGA said the funding should have a developmental objective and not just look at compliance and accurate reporting, or lack thereof. National Treasury’s Ms Julia de Bruyn said that inaccurate reporting or failure to report appeared to be why municipalities and public bodies did not access this incentive. “Some municipalities do create jobs as expected, but will under-report or fail to report and thereby disqualify themselves from getting the grant,” Ms de Bruyn added.
Most of the role players accepted that capacity at municipal level was a challenge, especially in rural areas. “We hear your concerns that capacity is an issue, but you are not putting forward suggestions on the incentive grant to address this,” Mr Sogoni replied.
Ms Catherine Mabuza Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Works who was co-chairing the meeting said that one of the concerns the committee had was the lack of monitoring to ensure that monies allocated were used as intended. “We visited some projects in Eastern Cape this year that were 92% complete according to reports, but when we got there, they did not exist. We need clear internal controls accompanying this model,” she said.
“Later this month, the Minister of Finance, Mr Pravin Gordhan will be presenting his Medium Term Expenditure Framework and we want to make sure that we go there with a model that will be included in the mid-term budget. We therefore want a consolidated and simplified model that will ensure that government stops this practice of rolling-over unspent monies” Mr Sogoni said.
by Temba Gubula