‘Track ev­ery sin­gle cent’

MPs must play key role in pick­ing up ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, says au­di­tor-gen­eral

The Sunday Independent - - NATION - SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI [email protected] African News Agency (ANA)

AU­DI­TOR-Gen­eral Kimi Mak­wetu will meet Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa this week to dis­cuss is­sues af­fect­ing his work and the reg­u­la­tions on the Pub­lic Au­dit Act to rein in of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture.

Mak­wetu said the new pow­ers given to him by the act would go a long way in ad­dress­ing is­sues of con­se­quences. This has been a stum­bling block in deal­ing with of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture.

The stand­ing com­mit­tee on the au­di­tor-gen­eral is fi­nal­is­ing the reg­u­la­tions on the act and the reg­u­la­tions will clar­ify ex­actly what would hap­pen. The com­mit­tee wants Par­lia­ment to ap­prove the reg­u­la­tions be­fore the House rises in the next two weeks. How­ever, Ramaphosa will an­nounce the im­ple­men­ta­tion date of the act.

Mak­wetu said he also wanted MPs to be­gin scru­ti­n­is­ing the books of de­part­ments and en­ti­ties ev­ery quar­ter to avoid the rise in ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture. Mak­wetu, who has re­vealed in his lat­est au­dit out­comes to de­part­ments at na­tional and provin­cial lev­els that ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture had in­creased from R45.6 bil­lion to R51bn, said MPs had a key role in their over­sight func­tion to pick up ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture early in the year. This would avoid mem­bers of Par­lia­ment pick­ing up the prob­lems af­ter the end of the fi­nan­cial year when the books have al­ready been closed and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties, malfea­sance and cor­rup­tion had hap­pened. In his re­port, Mak­wetu found that there was non-com­pli­ance with sup­ply chain man­age­ment.

The au­di­tor-gen­eral said he was not able to au­dit R6.5bn of pro­cure­ment due to miss­ing doc­u­ments or in­com­plete in­for­ma­tion. The stand­ing com­mit­tee on pub­lic ac­counts has said pro­cure­ment is where there is a lot of cor­rup­tion tak­ing place.

In the re­port the Mak­wetu also found R265 mil­lion in con­tracts had been awarded to of­fi­cials and politi­cians with­out fol­low­ing ten­der pro­cesses. In 56% of the de­part­ments and en­ti­ties he au­dited there was un­fair and un­com­pet­i­tive bid­ding.

Mak­wetu, who was speak­ing to In­de­pen­dent Me­dia in his of­fices in Cape Town, said the sit­u­a­tion can be im­proved to avoid the es­ca­la­tion of ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture.

“We have put our story on the ta­ble where we said re­gard­less of the is­sues threat­en­ing peo­ple, what is im­por­tant is to con­stantly as­sess peo­ple manag­ing these fi­nances. Is it not bet­ter to tighten these screws of over­sight in in-year pro­cesses? If some­body comes to Par­lia­ment with the se­cond quar­ter re­port (we must check) how far are you with your ex­pen­di­ture,” said Mak­wetu.

He said this would be one area where MPs would cut out the rise in ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture be­cause they would track each and ev­ery cent spent in ev­ery sin­gle quar­ter.

MPs must ask of­fi­cials if they know how much has been al­lo­cated at the be­gin­ning of the fi­nan­cial year. “If the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee knows of sig­nif­i­cant projects it needs to put in mo­tion those over­sight mech­a­nisms. If there is the flout­ing of sup­ply chain pro­ce­dures those would lead to ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture, the port­fo­lio com­mit­tees need to mon­i­tor that,” said Mak­wetu.

An­other ques­tion to be asked, is when de­part­ments and en­ti­ties would spend 80% of their bud­gets dur­ing the first six months of the year. He said these were ques­tions needed to be probed to get to the bot­tom of ir­reg­u­lar ex­pen­di­ture and rein in the of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for it.

How­ever, Mak­wetu said when he au­dits the books for the cur­rent fi­nan­cial year, which ends next year March, the Pub­lic Au­dit Act will be in full swing.

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