The Auditor General has revealed that just over R4billion was wasted in the financial year 2015/2016. Auditor Genaral Kimi Makwetu was speaking at a media briefing in Cape Town on Wednesday as he released a report on the national and provincial audit outcomes.
Mr Makwetu said this amount represented an 80 percent increase on the irregular expenditure recorded since the 2012/13 financial year. He further revealed that fruitless and wasteful expenditure had increased by 14 percent from what it was in the financial year 2013/14 since it had come to a total of R1.37 billion.
Auditor General Makwetu then zoomed in on the chief culprits of the ballooning budget. On this, he singled out three government departments as being the chief causes of the loss of the tax payers money. These were the Passenger and Rail Agency of South Africa (PRASA) as well as the water and sanitation departments. With particular reference to PRASA, Makwetu said that the parastatal had single handedly lost R1.37 billion of the taxpayers money, while the water and sanitation departments were not far behind,
It was also revealed during the press briefing that the major reasons for the irregular expenditure was the lack of adherence to the strict laid down procedures for procurement. Said Makwetu, “If you look at the main reason for the increase in irregular expenditure, it continues to be non-compliance with supply chain management laws. So if the department does not comply, even if they’ve made a great effort to source the goods and services, they still remain non-compliant.” Makwetu went further to state that deviations from the normal set down procedures particularly for emergency procurement also contributed to the huge bill of irregular expenditure. He added that the other reason for the ballooning irregular budget was the lack of supervision of people that were in decision-making roles. He referred to this as inefficiencies in administration where programmes were not implemented as designed, which then went on to create an additional cost burden of interest charges and penalties which in turn contributes to wasteful expenditure.
Makwetu felt that one way of reaching towards the solution was to ensure that not too many people were allowed to make decisions without supervision. This, he postulated, paved the way for corruption, leading to irregular expenditure. “Ultimately when you look at all of these audit outcomes, there’s a prevalance of conditions that indicate [that] if we do not address the issue of uncontrolled discretion on applying policy, there’s no accountability,” he concluded.