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MPs question need for state funeral budget

Government has spent R30 million in one year for just three state burials.

FILE: The casket of Dr Edna Molewa being carried by members of the South African National Defence Force during her funeral service on 6 October 2018. Picture: Kayleen Morgan/EWN

CAPE TOWN - Arranging funerals can be a lucrative business and when the state holds funerals, it seems that no expense is spared.

Government has spent R30 million in one year for just three state burials.

On Wednesday, Treasury briefed Parliament on its 2018 Adjustments Appropriation Bill.

The adjustments budget is the shifting of funds between and within department votes and provides for "unforeseeable and unavoidable" spending by the state.

MPs have questioned why there was a budget for something as unpredictable as a funeral.

Standing Committee on Appropriations chairperson Yvonne Phosa said: "Is there a policy on state funerals because if not, what are we implementing?"

However, the Treasury says the expenditure has to be accommodated in the adjustments as "unforeseeable and unavoidable expenditure" as it can’t be anticipated at the time of the budget.

Treasury’s head of Public Finance Mampho Modise: "As you would know, we cannot predict a funeral. So, we provided R10 million as an estimate for the year and there were three state funerals in that one year."

Other adjustments in the bill due to unavoidable expenditure include post-disaster rehabilitation as well as the reconstruction and rehabilitation of damaged farms and buildings.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)