The National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) spent close to R1-million of its budget for 16 June celebrations on berets, Performance, Monitoring, and Evaluation Minister Collins Chabane said on Monday.
Replying in writing to a parliamentary question, Chabane said a total of R2.8-million was given to the NYDA for the youth day celebrations, which were held in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape.
"The host province, which was the Eastern Cape, covered the infrastructure for the National Youth Day Celebrations," said Chabane.
The Presidency said it had spent, through the NYDA, an amount of R820 000 to show "opportunities available for young people".
Most of the other money was spent on branding and entertainment.
"The NYDA further covered costs for T-shirts for R490 000, berets to the value of R969 000, artists for R262 000, R294 000 for stadium branding, and lanyards for R17 000," said Chabane.
In addition to the funds provided by the Presidency, Eastern Cape Premier Noxolo Kievit approved over R2-million from the provincial coffers.
Opposition parties have criticised the spending at an event where President Jacob Zuma was not even present.
Zuma was in Mexico for a G-20 summit and was thus not able to address the event.
The NYDA is no newcomer to accusations of overspending.
In 2010, the agency hosted a World Youth Festival, which cost taxpayers over R100-million.
The NYDA was criticised when festival-goers complained of long queues, going hungry, and disorganisation. It was reported that some attendees played kissing games outside instead of attending scheduled sessions.