22 February 2017

South Africa: Dept of Transport Set to Achieve 80% Budget Spending

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The Department of Transport (DoT) will not be able to spend 100% of its budget by the end of the financial year, the Portfolio Committee on Transport heard on Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

"We will not achieve 100%. Some of the things are not entirely dependent on us," Acting Director General Mathabatha Mokonyane said.

The department was in Parliament to brief the Portfolio Committee on Transport on its third-quarter expenditure for the 2016 financial year. During the briefing, the department told the Committee it had achieved 34 out of 51 targets.

Members of the Committee asked about programmes such as taxi recapitalisation and the bus rapid transit (BRT) system implemented in some metros.

Committee Member Mr Pat Sibande commented that a sharp rise in expenditure, especially in the third quarter, could potential be interpreted as fiscal dumping. He asked why it took the department a long time to transfer funds to municipalities.

The Acting Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Leornard Ramatlakane, agreed with this sentiment, saying that the issue is whether the money is used for the purpose it is transferred or allocated for.

"This is a discussion we've had previously. The Committee interest is whether the money is used for the purposes it is intended. What is DoT's role when it comes to expenditure once funds have been transferred? How do you take their [provinces and entities] hand as a transferring authority to make sure that you build and create capacity to utilise resources?" Mr Ramatlakane asked.

Members also asked for details on the administration of the BRT services and related infrastructure. The Committee proposed to receive an updated report on the finalised taxi recapitalisation review report.

The department told the Committee that the review report was finished, and that findings and recommendations will be presented to the Forum of South African Directors-General. The late transfer of funds was because municipalities' financial year started in July, and thus the department could not transfer earlier.

Mr Mathabatha said the department has called for a BRT roundtable and that some metros still have challenges in acquiring buses, even though the infrastructure had been put in place.

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