South Africa: Auditor-General Places Hope in New Powers to Give Teeth to Safeguarding the Public Purse

The Auditor-General now has the legislative teeth to enforce recommendations for better handling of public finances. On Wednesday, when the 2017/18 consolidated national and provincial audit outcomes report was released, it also emerged that President Cyril Ramaphosa had signed on to the statute books the Public Audit Amendment Act. This is a crucial milestone in South Africa's chronically abused public finances.

Another year, another regression. The 2017/18 consolidated national and provincial audit outcomes report released on Wednesday shows a fourth consecutive year of deteriorating compliance with laws and regulations -- 75% of those audited flouted the legislative and regulatory framework, up from 64% just a year earlier.

The health of South Africa's public finances declined as unauthorised and fruitless and wasteful expenditure ballooned in the absence of reliable, consistent and effective internal controls.

And an unprecedented number of audits failed to meet the end of August deadline -- 41, up from 26 in the 2016/17 financial year, including arms manufacturer Denel and SA Express and SAA -- which are receiving bailouts of R1.2-billion and...

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