Johannesburg – Gauteng MEC for Finance Barbara Creecy has increased allocations for mental health care from R700 million to R893.8 million as the province seeks to avoid a repeat of the tragedy in which 100 mental health patients died.
MEC Creecy said the Health Department would use this extra money to provide resources to support patients with mental health conditions in the wake of the Life Esidimeni tragedy, and to implement recommendations of the Health Ombud report into the deaths.
“As Provincial Treasury, we are committed to supporting the Health Department in implementing the recommendations of the Health Ombud report. When the alternative dispute resolution process is complete, we will appropriate any necessary resources for the families of the victims of the Life Esidimeni tragedy from the provincial revenue fund.”
The Gauteng government has allocated R40.2 billion in the 2017/18 financial year towards health. This is an increase of R2.6 billion when compared with the previous allocation of R37.6 billion.
Tabling the budget in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature, MEC Creecy said that putting more money into the health system was a major priority for Gauteng and would restore public confidence in the public health care system.
Money allocated to health would be split into five categories in support of service delivery initiatives. These include health treatment, emergency medical services and new medical supplies.
“We have allocated R40.2 billion to assist the department in this difficult task of restoring the public’s confidence in our health system. This budget will include allocation of money into key issues of hospitals, medication and service delivery in community health.”
About R9 billion will go towards supporting district hospitals, community health clinics and community based centres, while R7.3 billion has been allocated to central hospitals.
The treatment and prevention of HIV and AIDs and Tuberculosis receives R3.7 billion.
MEC Creecy said expenditure on health infrastructure would see R2.8 billion allocated towards the upgrading of Charlotte Maxeke Hospital in Johannesburg and other health facilities.
Last week a roof at the hospital caved in while private construction workers were filling in a leak. Five people were injured.
“The Department of Health will build the new Finetown Clinic, renovate of staff residences at Charlotte Maxeke and continue with the construction of new Lillian Ngoyi Hospital and upgrade Helen Joseph Hospital as well as convert of Discoverers and Lenasia South CHC into District hospitals,” the MEC said.
Millions saved as Gauteng cuts down on fat
Gauteng Provincial Government has saved R414 million by cutting down on accommodation, catering and travel expenses as the province seeks to dedicate more money towards service delivery.
This was announced by Finance MEC Barbara Creecy when she tabled the province’s R108 billion budget in the legislature on Tuesday.
She said the provincial government had cut back on catering, corporate branding, travelling and accommodation in its ongoing efforts to slash non-core expenses.
“Last year we saved R386 million in fruitless and wasteful expenditure by reducing interesting paid on overdue accounts,” she said.
In an effort to fight fraud and corruption, the province has strengthened internal systems in its forensic services units. This resulted in 125 employees, suspected of engaging in fraudulent and corrupt activities, facing disciplinary action. A forensic laboratory with digital forensic tools has also been built to assist with fraud and corruption investigations, while additional forensic investigators have been hired.
MEC Creecy said the province was also leading in procuring goods and services from historically disadvantaged individuals.
Of the 12 000 companies that Gauteng spent R46 billion on in the last financial year, 10 000 were black-owned. About 2 813 township based enterprises had also benefited to the tune of R5 billion from doing business with the provincial government.
The province, she said, was looking forward to the introduction of procurement regulatory changes allowing for compulsory 30% subcontracting of all contracts above R30 million to smaller enterprises; as well as the introduction of pre-qualification for tenders based on BBBEE levels of contribution.
These reforms would help the province bring township suppliers into joint ventures with larger suppliers, and encourage existing black-owned suppliers to get more involved in manufacturing initiatives.
“We believe this will allow us to make Premier [David] Makhura’s vision of a second wave of empowerment a reality. One in which black-owned businesses and township enterprises we are currently empowering, help us re-industrialise and modernise our provincial economy,” she said.
To deepen transparency, by the 2018/19 financial year, Gauteng hopes to have all its procurement spending done through an open tender system.
The province introduced the concept of an open tender for contracts above R50 million in 2014. Since then, 38 tenders to the value of R9.4 billion from all departments were processed through open procurement.
Gauteng has also led the way in ensuring that suppliers are paid on time, with 11 out of 14 provincial departments now paying 93% of their invoices within 30 days. At least 79% of those invoices were paid within 15 days of receipt.
Premier Makhura has instructed the Provincial Treasury to work with the Departments of Health, Education and Infrastructure, which are still experiencing payment delays, to ensure that 90% of their invoices are settled within 30 days.
Gauteng has also prioritised debt owed by government departments to municipalities, making sure that R2 billion in rates and taxes owed by provincial departments was paid in the last two years alone.
It has also set aside R2.4 billion over the next three years to settle outstanding backlogs on property rates.