Government wastes R31 billion

wastingGovernment departments and other public entities wasted almost R31-billion in unauthorised, irregular and fruitless spending during the financial year to the end of March.

This is according to a consolidated general audit report for the 2012-2013 financial year released in parliament yesterday by outgoing auditor-general Terence Nombembe.

Nombembe lambasted the government for not implementing his recommendations for improving financial controls.

Government departments awarded R233-million in tenders to companies in which public servants or their close family members had an interest – even though Public Service and Administration Minister Lindiwe Sisulu has prepared legislation to ban public servants from trading with the state.

The report identified several areas in which the risk of incurring unauthorised, irregular or fruitless spending was greatest, including: poor supply-chain management, weak IT systems, lax human resources management and poor preparation of financial statements.

Nombembe criticised cabinet ministers, saying “it is apparent that almost half of the executive authorities do not yet have a direct impact” in turning around the poor financial management of their departments.

The report found:

That 32 government departments incurred R2.3-billion in unauthorised expenditure;
That 294 departments and public entities irregularly spent R26.4-billion; and
That 227 entities and departments incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R2.1-billion, with four provincial departments being responsible for half that amount.
Nombembe said most of the improper expenditure was in provincial departments of health, education, and public works “right across the country”.

Sisulu said that – together with Minister in the Presidency for Performance Monitoring and Evaluation Collins Chabane – she would ensure that all ministers were able to supervise financial management in their departments.

“Politicians must take accountability for what happens in their departments,” she said. –