Probing graft costs KZN R1,6 bln

2013-05-31 00:00

THE KwaZulu-Natal forensic investigation team has had over 170 requests to probe fraud and corruption, which cost the provincial government R1,6 billion in the last five years.

Presenting the provincial Treasury’s budget speech yesterday, Finance MEC Ina Cronjé said the team had been overwhelmed with requests for investigations by provincial departments, public entities and municipalities.

Cronjé indicated in her budget speech that efforts would continue to be made to curb corruption, enforce fiscal discipline and educate and support the public and civil servants in achieving better financial management.

The MEC said the forensic team worked closely with law enforcement agencies, which conducted the criminal investigations.

She acknowledged that the wheels of justice moved slowly and said her department was in discussions with the judiciary and prosecuting authority to find ways to speed up the processes.

Of the 172 investigations being carried out, 81 (47%) had been finalised in the past year, said Cronjé.

Ninety-one investigations were still in progress.

The Treasury had spent about R26 million per annum on forensic investigations.

To improve control and oversight, Cronjé said, electronic fraud case management and automated procurement systems would be installed in the province.

The fraud case management system would help with the recording, consolidation and tracking of all provincial forensic investigations that were under way.

Treasury would be focusing on improving governance in public entities.

The increased focus would cover issues such as board remuneration, performance plans and financial management.

Cronjé said the Treasury has secured more than R30 million from the European Union, which will be used to engage experts to review the province’s health and education sectors.

“Sector reviews are important as they deal with the question of whether value for money is being achieved with the expenditure incurred.”

Education and health were chosen because together they account for 73% of the provincial budget,” she added.

The MEC assured members of the legislature that the province’s finances were healthy.

Treasury had ensured that it provided for foreseeable fiscal shocks and the province continued to budget for a surplus of close to R1 billion a year.

She said that only three of the 16 departments — Legislature, Health and Transport — had overspent and the amount was minimal (between 0,4 and 0,1%) while the other 13 underspent.

“As a result the province remains with a healthy cash positive bank balance,” Cronjé said.

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