Building a responsive, accountable and effective local government system
12 Jul 2011The Gauteng Department of Finance will use the R1.5 billion budget allocated to it in the 2011/12 financial year to improve the performance of municipalities in the province, contribute to quality basic education by accelerating the implementation of the Gauteng Online Schools Project and facilitate the creation of decent employment opportunities.
The announcement was made by Gauteng Finance MEC, Mr Mandla Nkomfe when he presented his department’s budget vote for the current financial year to the Legislature today.
MEC Nkomfe revealed that Gauteng Department of Finance (GDF) and the Gauteng Department of Local Government and Housing, assisted municipalities in the province to recover R1 billion in debt owed by provincial government departments for service charges and property rates in the 2010/11 financial year.
The Department of Infrastructure Development paid the most amounts, settling debts totalling in excess of R600 million. DID’s bill was largely made up of outstanding property rates. The bulk of this money, R427 million was paid in the first quarter of the local government’s fiscal year, providing a welcome boost to the budgets of some municipalities in the province. DID was followed by the Gauteng Department of Health and Social Development which spent R219 million to settle its outstanding municipal accounts.
Gauteng Department of Education paid a total of R132 million to municipalities in the province during the period under review, while GDL&H settle outstanding debt amounting to R38, 973 million.
Most of the money paid by Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) went into assisting Section 21 schools, who were not servicing their municipal accounts regularly. Section 21 schools receive annual subsidies from GDE and are expected to manage their budgets efficiently, including municipal service funds.
“GDE is working towards ensuring that current accounts are serviced on a monthly basis, while clearing arrear accounts. In fact, I must point out that arrear accounts have been reduced significantly and GDE is already paying municipal debt accumulated over 30 to 60 days. This is an improvement from over 120 days in terms of age analysis,” MEC Nkomfe explained.
The initiative to assist municipalities with debt recovery from government entities began in 2009. The Gauteng Provincial Government adopted a Debt Management and Recovery Strategy and established an intergovernmental Debt Management Committee managed by GDF to facilitate payment of arrears to municipalities owed by national and provincial government departments, and parastatals.
In the previous financial year, the focus of the Debt Management Committee has mainly been on four departments: DID, GDH&SD, GDE and DLG&H. However, in the 2011/12, GDF has broadened the scope of the committee to include national departments and parastatals utilising the services of municipalities in the province. The aim is to ensure that all outstanding payments for consumption of those services are made to the respective municipalities.
“In addition to the above, the department will provide the necessary oversight and support to municipalities in the province on both sustainable resource management and financial governance matters,” he continued.
Quality basic education through Gauteng Online Schools Project
The provision of high quality basic education is one of the key priorities of the provincial government. In the 2011/12 financial year GDF has allocated a total of R400 million to this outcome focused on quality education. Amongst other things, this budget will go towards completing the remaining 595 GoL computer labs, effectively bridging the digital divide for the remaining 32% of learners in the province.
As part of the strategy to accelerate the implementation of GoL, GDF and the Gauteng Department of Education have introduced Operation Tsoseletso. This intervention programme is focused on addressing challenges experienced with the implementation of GoL since its inception.
Operation Tsoseletso is being rolled out as a pilot to test whether recurring problems which have hampered the implementation of GoL can be resolved in a systematic manner.
This project is the revival of the GoL schools programme in order to effectively utilise the infrastructure provided and that all GoL labs are fully functional and are used by both educators and learners.
Other issues that Operation Tsoseletso would focus on are the following:
- Implement Integrated Security Plan (ISP) incorporating the School Safety Plan
- Settle the electricity bill associated with LSN consumption
- Create more awareness that users should not switch power off when leaving the lab or at LSN
- Fast track the completion of LSN upgrade programme
- Communicating to districts to ensure training schedules are honoured
Decent employment to facilitate inclusive economic growth
GDF has allocated a total of R1.82 billion to job creation to facilitate inclusive economic growth over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. This allocation will fund key projects in information communication technology (ICT) infrastructure delivery via the G-Link Project, increasing access to jobs in the GPG by strengthening our recruitment strategies and portals, and reviewing the Procurement Framework to realise GPG’s Preferential Procurement targets.
The department is committed to assist government departments in the province to fill all vacant funded positions this financial year. In this regard, GDF has identified all funded vacant positions in the system and is working with departments to ensure that these are filled within set timeframes.
As part of Operation Tsoseletso, a total of 1 200 Educational Technologists will be trained and deployed to 1 574 GoL enabled schools in the Gauteng during the course of the year. Their function will be to address any technical problems and enhance the operational efficiency of the system.
The implementation of this intervention programme has given GDF an opportunity to develop critical IT skills and provide work opportunities for the youth. This is because the 1 200 Educational Technologists that are being deployed to GoL are young people that have been trained as part of the department’s internship programme
Furthermore, the department has set aside R300 000 this financial year to implement a six month experiential training programme that will enable young graduates across the province to gain hands-on-experience in different areas of the department’s work. To ensure that we reach as many graduates as possible in the province, we have partnered with the Vaal University of Technology, Tshwane University of Technology and the University of Johannesburg and eight Further Education, and Training Colleges in Gauteng in this initiative. We are convinced that the experience these graduates will gain combined with their qualifications will put them in a better position to find permanent employment in future.
Cell: 079 510 5408
Issued by: Gauteng Finance
12 Jul 2011
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