Most arts projects, which were to be taken up by government under the National Development Plan (NDP) 11, have been deferred as the country struggles to attain energy and water security, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has learnt this week.
The permanent secretary at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Kago Ramokate told the committee that due to budgetary constraints arts projects were abandoned in favour of the more pressing water and power issues.
The decision paints a clear picture of how the arts are valued in the country, despite minister Thapelo Olopeng once saying the arts have a huge potential to diversify the economy, stating that it could create jobs and eliminate poverty.
His answer followed a question by committee member, Mephato Reatile who wanted to know why over P7 million was diverted from the National Library project for the refurbishment of the national stadium and what happened to the National library project.
“The national library project has been deferred. It was said that projects under NDP11 that required large amounts of money should be deferred,” Ramoroka said.
Asked if the project would be implemented under the NDP11, Ramoroka said that it is not
“It will not be undertaken under NDP11 because it was said that the NDP11 could not accommodate it as we had power and water issues to deal with.
Other projects for the arts could not also take off due to limited funds,” he added.
However, the committee was concerned that the National Library project has not taken off even though it has been in the development plan from way back since 1999.
According to Ramokate, the National Library is not the only project that had to be deferred under the NDP11. Without listing the projects, which were affected, he said that most arts projects, which had not taken off were sidelined as government was forced to prioritise.
Meanwhile, the National Development Plan 11 started from April 2017 and will end in March 2023.