3 November 2017

South Africa: North West Moves to Get Better Audit Results

The North West provincial administration says it will improve its audit outcomes by sticking to a strict consequence management system.

The provincial government on Friday said it has noted the 2016/17 Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) Auditor General media reports, which list the province as one of the worst performing provinces.

"In an effort to strengthen accountability and demonstrate commitment, the provincial government has recently approved the implementation of the consequence management framework, including the establishment of the consequence management committee," said Dr Lydia Sebego, the Director General in the North West Premier's Office.

Sebego said the committee has been given the responsibility to implement disciplinary corrective measures flowing from the investigations on irregular and fruitless expenditure.

She was addressing a media briefing on the 2016/17 Auditor General's report on the PFMA.

"The Provincial Advisory Committee, which includes the Auditor General, is currently working with the departments and entities to deal with matters relating to irregular and fruitless expenditure.

"To date, through the process of the Advisory Committee, an amount of R140 million irregular and fruitless expenditure has been cleared with the appropriate consequence management," Sebego said.

She said stringent monitoring of irregular expenditure has been put in place through the implementation of cost containment measures, recommended by National Treasury. Thresholds on certain expenditures, which resulted in irregular expenditure, are now being applied.

"Provincial Treasury issued a comprehensive instruction note and a consequence management framework in conjunction with the National Treasury Guideline to Departments and Public Entities to assist in the process of detection, investigation, consequence management and condonement of irregular expenditure.

"Departments have in the meantime carried out extensive investigations on irregular expenditure and are in the process of concluding those investigations. The outcomes of these investigations will determine the consequence management strategies to apply," she said.

The Executive Council has further directed that all instances of irregular expenditure should be dissected and transgressions associated with them outlined.

"Through the detailed evaluation of the irregular and fruitless expenditure data, we have identified that 90% of the irregular expenditure can be accounted for and such expenditure has not compromised service delivery and the State has not suffered a loss.

"The process to conclude investigations relating to the 90% is ongoing and would be presented to the Advisory Committee for conclusion," Sebego said.

Correcting past mistakes

She said the fifth administration has inherited contracts signed as far back as the 2009/10 financial year, such as commuter and scholar transport in the Department of Community Safety and Transport Management, where an average annual amount of R700 million was incurred as irregular expenditure.

"Unfortunately this government could not terminate this essential service because of the irregularity, as identified by the Auditor General.

"In the Department of Health, an amount of R596 million was identified as irregular expenditure because the department did not advertise on the national tender bulletin, as required by National Treasury processes. They had advertised on local and national newspapers following all the necessary Supply Chain Management (SCM) processes," Sebego said.

Other causes of irregular expenditure are due to gaps that exist in SCM policies, which the province is addressing.

"In some remote areas of the province, it is often a challenge to secure three quotations when procurement is done due to the unavailability of service providers," she said.

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