GEORGE NEWS - Since the start of the pandemic George Municipality has spent a total of R11,781-million on Covid-19-related expenditures, with the top three highest expenditures allocated to personal protective equipment (R3,379-million); the installation of additional mobile toilets within informal settlements (R3,115-million) and food parcels and food items (R1,729-million).
These details have been made available by the municipality earlier today. DA Constituency Head of George, Geordin Hill-Lewis, applauded the municipality for setting the standard for municipalities in the Western Cape and South Africa by publishing details of all its Covid-19-related expenditure.
Mayor Leon van Wyk said he believes in being open and transparent with regard to the spending of public funds and that the residents of George should be assured of the integrity of the administration. “The abuse of Covid-19 relief funds in other areas of the country is shocking and can partly be attributed to not only a lack of transparency about spending, but also a clear lack of controls in place,” said Van Wyk. “The Covid-19 pandemic has placed a huge burden on George’s financial resources and on its personnel. It is important that our residents understand what has been spent to date, in implementing the necessary Covid-19 safety protocols and the ongoing impact on the municipality as it continues to provide services.”
Breakdown of the expenditure
A list showing the breakdown of the expenditure as well as the various suppliers is available for public scrutiny on the George Municipality website.
Where possible, services were contracted from local suppliers and supply chain management principles were adhered to at all times. Under the Disaster Management Regulations, George Municipality reports its Covid-19 expenditure on an ongoing basis to both national and provincial treasury.
The figures as per the spreadsheet are also subject to internal audit in the normal course of business operations. The Risk Management Department performed a re-assessment of the risks and facilitated the identification, assessment and mitigation of Covid-19-related risks with the risk owners. Internal Audit adjusted the internal audit plan and re-prioritised the internal audit budget in order to address the new Covid-19-related risks, as well as those risks impacted by Covid-19. Internal Audit performed reviews on Covid-19 expenditure and deviations, as well as on non-cash donations, given that the Auditor-General will audit Covid-19 expenditure in the scope of their external audit.
PPE & toilets
As at 31 July, George Municipality has spent R3,379m (28,7%) on Covid-19 related personal protective equipment (PPE) expenditure since the commencement of the pandemic. PPE has been sourced from more than 30 different suppliers. This largest category of expenditure relates to face masks, hand sanitisers, thermometers and gloves.
The second highest expenditure has been the installation of additional mobile toilets within George’s informal settlements together with the added day of servicing (i.e. three in total per week), which has to date incurred a cost of R3,115m (26,4% of the total). This was an absolute necessity to allow for increased levels of hygiene during the health pandemic in our informal areas. A provincial grant from the Department of Human Settlements to the value of R506 000 was received towards this expenditure.
The third major category relates to food parcels and food items purchased for R1,729m (14,7% of the total) in the initial Covid-19 period when many vulnerable members of the community needed to be assisted. George Municipality received a Humanitarian Grant to the value of R1-million, so actual municipal expenditure is R0,729m. This was over and above the thousands of rands’ worth of food items that were donated by business and private individuals for distribution.
An amount of R1,267m (10,8%) has been spent to date on deep cleansing and disinfecting of the municipal buildings and public transport facilities since the pandemic started. An amount of R1,252m has been spent on overtime related to the pandemic, while the balance of the PPE expenditure was incurred on a decontamination cabin, a range of equipment and sundry items. As a responsible employer, the municipality has paid R102 605 for the Covid-19 screening and counselling of symptomatic and positive officials.
All municipal buildings, although not open to the public under Level 3 lockdown, have been supplied with the required safety measures including sanitisers, masks and temperature scanners. No official or councillor may enter a municipal building without strictly adhering to the protocols that are in place. Within the confines of the Disaster Regulations and serious health pandemic we find ourselves in, George Municipality continues to do its utmost to protect its officials while at the same time maintaining a high standard of service delivery to the residents of George.
*It must be noted that the spreadsheet is not conclusive and will be added to as further expenditure is incurred.
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