Health MEC: No more freeloaders
The Gauteng health department has met its deadline for paying off its multibillion-rand debt to suppliers, MEC Ntombi Mekgwe said yesterday.
"The department faced tremendous pressure in the 2011-2012 financial year to settle supplier debt. [it] devised a payment plan which stipulated that it would use the resources to pay off all suppliers by the end of June this year," she said.
"A total of R4.4-billion was therefore paid from April to June this year, and we can now say that the deadline for settling accrual by June 30 has been achieved."
Mekgwe said the department had paid its debts to March this year. Subsequent payments would be made monthly.
"We have put in place a plan to avoid a recurrence of the accruals and cash-flow challenges that we experienced.
"Our plan includes achieving a saving of R1.6-billion through cost containment measures."
The measures included managing the compensation of employees and reducing the costs of medicines, surgical items, security services, and the use of government vehicles.
The department had developed a Gauteng health-turnaround strategy to highlight and rectify shortcomings.
It would review all contracts and tenders, address fraud and corruption, and establish an office for ethics and discipline in the department.
"The challenge we have is that of contract management.
"There are gaps in the system and sometimes people take advantage of those gaps. Some people don't think they are part of this department and others are here to just milk the cow," Mekgwe said.
"We must stop those things. This money is not [Gauteng] Premier [Nomvula] Mokonyane's money; it is the money of the public. It must be protected.
"In companies, you would be fired immediately but, when people work for the government, they think they can do whatever they want."
She said a full audit would be made of the department's contracts, adding that many issues - such as hospital equipment breaking down - were as a result of past contracts.