Pre­mier vows to root out cor­rup­tion and wastage

Sunday Times - - News Navy Blues -

● The Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment has warned that it will con­tinue to act tough against of­fi­cials who con­tinue to flout fi­nan­cial man­age­ment rules.

Gaut­eng Pre­mier David Makhura is­sued the stern warn­ing as the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment be­came the only prov­ince in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year to achieve un­qual­i­fied fi­nan­cial state­ments.

‘‘We have also in­tro­duced strong an­ti­cor­rup­tion and in­tegrity pro­mo­tion mea­sures across var­i­ous de­part­ments in or­der to rid Gaut­eng of any cor­rupt el­e­ments. What must be made clear is that those who cross the eth­i­cal line will face the con­se­quences. We now have an ef­fec­tive in­stru­ment where, through close col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Spe­cial In­ves­ti­gat­ing Unit, all old cases are be­ing at­tended and new ones im­me­di­ately when they arise. We mean busi­ness,’’ he said.

Fi­nance MEC Bar­bara Creecy said de­spite Gaut­eng cel­e­brat­ing a sus­tained record of clean and un­qual­i­fied au­dits for the pre­vi­ous four years, she was con­cerned about the high level of ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture which pre­vented a num­ber of de­part­ments from mov­ing to clean au­dit sta­tus.

Creecy added that the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment was cur­rently fi­nal­is­ing a fi­nan­cial re­cov­ery plan with the Na­tional Trea­sury, which fo­cuses on the devel­op­ment of a fi­nan­cial re­sources plan, rev­enue man­age­ment, ex­pen­di­ture man­age­ment, in­di­gents man­age­ment and lo­cal eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

The au­di­tor-gen­eral’s of­fice said one of the main rea­sons the Gaut­eng pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment man­aged to score a good au­dit out­come for four con­sec­u­tive years was due to the prov­ince re­act­ing pos­i­tively to ad­vice from the of­fice of the au­di­tor-gen­eral.

“The pre­mier, speaker and members of the ex­ec­u­tive coun­cil, con­tin­ued to lead by ex­am­ple and in­sisted on a cul­ture of trans­parency and ac­count­abil­ity in the con­duct of pub­lic af­fairs. Co-or­di­nat­ing de­part­ments and ex­ter­nal over­sight struc­tures com­ple­mented this cul­ture, as they sus­tained their over­sight re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” reads the au­di­tor-gen­eral’s re­port.

The re­port also com­mended the qual­ity of the fi­nan­cial state­ments the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment de­part­ments and en­ti­ties sub­mit­ted for au­dit­ing, say­ing it im­proved from the pre­vi­ous year, as only 26% as op­posed to 35% in the pre­vi­ous fi­nan­cial year, were re­quired to make cor­rec­tions to their sub­mit­ted fi­nan­cial state­ments due to ma­te­rial mis­state­ments iden­ti­fied dur­ing the au­dit.

The re­port, how­ever, raised con­cerns that 10 of the 11 pro­vin­cial de­part­ments that did not achieve clean au­dit out­comes in the cur­rent year had ma­te­rial find­ings on com­pli­ance with key leg­is­la­tion — as was the case in the pre­vi­ous three years.

“This re­mains the main ob­sta­cle pre­vent­ing the prov­ince from fur­ther im­prov­ing its au­dit out­comes, as the ad­min­is­tra­tive lead­er­ship and se­nior man­age­ment were slow to im­ple­ment their com­mit­ments to ad­dress com­pli­ance find­ings.”

It noted that “ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture dis­closed in 2017-2018 re­mained high at R6.4bn, of which R4.9bn (77%) re­lated to non­com­pli­ance with sup­ply chain man­age­ment [SCM] re­quire­ments and R1.2bn (19%) re­lated to hu­man set­tle­ments that trans­ferred funds from the hu­man set­tle­ments devel­op­ment grant to im­ple­ment­ing agents with­out the Na­tional Trea­sury’s ap­proval”.

The re­port added that the SCM-re­lated ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture does not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent wastage or fraud. She said the Open Ten­der sys­tem last year pre­vented R1.5bn in ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, the only sus­tained in­stru­ment to erad­i­cate ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture across the prov­ince.

Makhosi Khoza, ex­ec­u­tive direc­tor of the Or­gan­i­sa­tion Un­do­ing Tax Abuse’s lo­cal gov­ern­ment, said: “When it comes to hous­ing projects, the pro­vin­cial hu­man set­tle­ments is sup­posed to over­see the im­ple­men­ta­tion of projects at lo­cal gov­ern­ment level, and that is where a lot of wastage is hap­pen­ing. The pre­mier should ensure MECs per­form their over­sight func­tions.”

Makhura said the pro­vin­cial gov­ern­ment would not hes­i­tate to in­ter­vene in poor-per­form­ing mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to ensure ba­sic ser­vices are pro­vided to res­i­dents.

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