The national Department of Basic Education has once more failed to spend the Schools Infrastructure Backlogs Grant for the Eastern Cape. This means R415-million or 26% of the R1.574-billion that was allocated to the Eastern Cape has been underspent. This money is allocated for the eradication of mud structure schools.
This emerged in a briefing by National Treasury and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) to the Provincial Portfolio Committee on Finance yesterday (subs: 15 Nov 2017) in Bhisho, on the 2017 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill. For the relevant page in the Bill, click here
The ongoing under-expenditure on education infrastructure in Eastern Cape schools by the national Department of Basic Education is not only a violation of the basic rights of learners but also denies them a leg-up on the opportunity ladder. Having a good education provides one with an opportunity to access a good job. Without these opportunities, millions of people in the Eastern Cape cannot escape the poverty trap that has been inflicted upon them by poor governance.
Some of the reasons that were provided to the portfolio committee for the under-expenditure were:
Delays in appointing contractors;
Reappointing contractors where the services of underperforming contractors were terminated; and
The delays in finalising the merger and rationalisation of schools.
This province cannot afford to lose R415-million particularly when it is specifically allocated to alleviate the plight of those learners who are subjected to mud structure schools.
The DA believes that contractors who underperform should be called to account and their guarantees called up as well as being blacklisted.
Every year since 2009 with exception of one year, the national department has failed to spend all of the money. This contributes to the structural poverty that grips the Eastern Cape. A DA provincial government will take the Eastern Cape forward to new heights and ensure that learners can get ahead and reach for their dreams.
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