The Standing and Select Committees on Appropriations were on Friday (10 March) briefed by National Treasury and the Financial and Fiscal Commission on the 2017 Division of Revenue Bill.
The Committees welcomed the grant that will focus on learners with intellectual disabilities. However the Committees cautioned against the grant undermining the system of inclusive education. Members of the Committees said that the grant is long over-due but it is important to ensure that educators with special needs training are recruited.
The new learners with profound intellectual disabilities grant will be introduced over the 2017 Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) period. The grant aims to expand access to education for learners with profound intellectual disabilities. The grant is allocated R72 million in 2017/18, R185.5 million in 2018/19 and R220.8 million in 2019/20.
The Committees welcomed the grant that will employ social workers. The Committees were of the view that the grant will be able address social work graduate unemployment in the country and tackle the social problems that the country is faced with.
The social worker employment grant aims to reduce the backlog in the number of unemployed social worker graduates, while the need for social workers across the country continues to increase. This grant receives a total of R591.3 million over the 2017 MTEF. The funds have been reprioritised from the National Department of Social Development, which previously used the funds to subsidise the education of social workers.
The Committees appreciated measures that have been put in place to address revenue collection in municipalities that are struggling and called for significant enhancements in the revenue raising capacities of provinces and municipalities.
The Committees noted with concern the under expenditure of the bucket eradication grant. The Committees were of the view that consequence management need to be effected for the failure to spend funds that have been allocated to improve the lives of people. Members of the Committees said officials need to be held accountable for under expenditure of this grant.
Members of the Committees welcomed the new early childhood development grant but raised concern about the department that has been tasked to administer the grant. The Committees indicated that the grant should be administered and placed within the education department instead of social development.
The early childhood development grant, which was introduced last year, comes into operation this year with an allocation of R1.3bn over the 2017 MTEF.
The Committees commended National Treasury for implementing recommendations from the Standing Committee on Appropriations tabled on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa