The government has admitted that millions of Rands allocated to HIV and AIDS projects have gone unspent. This came to light in Tuesday’s report to Parliament by Finance Minister Trevor Manuel.

Over R67,2-million, which was meant to spent in the 2004/2005 financial year by the Department of Health, will be now no longer be available for use.

Health Minister Manto Tshabalala-Msimang told reporters that, “As a minister of health I wouldn’t be proud of that statement.” She said that while the money might not be able to be used by the department in South Africa, it could be given to international organisations.

The Minister blamed NGOs and provincial government for not effectively monitoring and reporting their spending of the funds. South Africa has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in the world.

In related news, the Ministry of Health has responded to an article in the New York Times about a book published by the United Nations’ special envoy to Africa on AIDS, Mr Stephen Lewis in which he criticised the government’s handling of the HIV and AIDS epidemic.

The ministry said that the opinions in the book do not reflect the views of the UN on the South African AIDS programme, noting that the UN had commended the country for its tripling of its resource allocation for HlV and AIDS programmes since 2001.

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