An operational framework to improve municipal infrastructure grant spending in North-West Province, South Africa
The study has identified the adverse impact of under-expenditure of Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) projects in North West Province. This study focuses on the extent to which the application of MIG processes is affected by the enabling environment in North West Province. The research objectives are: to determine the primary reasons for under-expenditure in MIG projects; identify the roles of all stakeholders in MIG projects, including in the Project Management Unit (PMU); determine the issues faced within the procurement division that impact municipal spending; quantify the extent to which under-expenditure directly contributes to inefficient service delivery; consolidate the findings of under-spending of MIG funds; and apply research findings to determine the new framework for spending. Questionnaires were used to collect quantitative data from different local municipalities within North West Province. Secondary data was sourced from the Department of Human Settlement and Traditions (DHST) and annual reports and audited annual reports from the Provincial Auditor-General. A framework was developed using different statistical analysis and findings from other research approaches. It was refined through focus group inputs. Qualitative content analysis was used to develop the final framework. The focus group interviews revealed that MIG underspending was due to the following : (i) lack of independence by PMUs; (ii) the need to meet strict time frames; (iii) poorly functioning intergovernmental relations (IGR); (iv) procurement plans not being adhered to; (v) competent service providers not always being appointed; (vi) lack of involvement of communities through the project life cycle; (vii) lack of clear-cut policies regarding MIGs; and (viii) limitations on change management, requiring reduction in high staff turnover and the appointment of PMUs on a permanent basis. A refined framework resulted from the interview. Recommendations are made based on this refined framework. In conclusion, it was found that total spending of MIG funds does not necessarily mean the backlog has been eradicated. The implementation of a proper framework will assist in proper expenditure of MIG funds. Secondly, it will eradicate service backlogs and minimise service delivery protests. It will result in provision of essential services to the communities that so direly need these. Finally, minimal amounts will be returned unspent to the National Treasury.