Tuesday, January 17, 2012

R428m of public money down drain

R428m of public money down drain
SIPHO MASOMBUKA | 17 January, 2012 00:02

Rand notes. File picture
Image by: Russell Roberts
Auditor general concerned about Zuma's office breaking laws Government departments have wasted R428.8-million during the 2010-2011 financial year, with the Department of Home Affairs the biggest culprit, accounting for R334.6-million in fruitless and wasteful spending.
The audit report, released yesterday by auditor-general Terrence Nombembe, revealed that, of 39 government departments, only 11 did not waste money.

Only Public Enterprises, Environmental Affairs and Science and Technology received clean audits.

At R687.3-million, Home Affairs was also the biggest offender regarding unauthorised expenditure. The overall national figure was R802.3-million.

The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform wasted R73.4-million, and Water Affairs lost R8.2-million in wasteful expenditure.

Nombembe said there were "significant" concerns about the prevention and detection of unauthorised, irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure at Water Affairs.

The department's director of communications, Linda Page, said: "It is unfortunate that the Department of Water Affairs' wasteful and fruitless expenditure is among the highest.

"We have, however, put in place corrective measures to address all the issues identified by the auditor-general. These measures include higher-level training of officials on procurement and strengthening our internal control measures.

"We are confident that we will see a marked improvement in the areas identified as weak points."

The auditor-general found that the unauthorised expenditure by Home Affairs was a result of overspending on settlements made to third parties relating to the controversial and contested Gijima AST "Who am I online?" project.

The outcome of the investigation [into the Gijima contract] allowed the department to negotiate a settlement with the service provider to ensure that the department did not unnecessarily delay the implementation of the project.

Home Affairs director-general Mkhuseli Apleni said: "It was all because of one transaction. When we went out on tender for the [project], [the State Information Technology Agency] had to follow certain procurement procedures. They didn't and we had to engage in a settlement process with Gijima."

The auditor-general also raised "significant" concerns about the prevention and detection of unauthorised and irregular spending at the Presidency, which could be indicative of inadequate budgetary processes and in-year monitoring of expenditure.

President Jacob Zuma's office overspent R28.4-million and recorded an irregular expenditure of R859000 related to supply-chain management.

Zuma's office also retained its unqualified audit opinion with findings on predetermined objectives and compliance.

Generally, Nombembe said he was happy with the improvements in reporting by government departments. - Additional reporting by Sipho Masondo

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