Scopa’s Nkosi berates officials and questions their ability to do the job

2013-10-18 00:00

OFFICIALS of the Community Safety and Liaison Department yesterday received a tongue-lashing from the standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) for continuously incurring irregular expenditure, and flouting tender policies and other laws governing taxpayers’ money.

This came as Scopa scrutinised the department’s finances and its report from the Auditor-General. The department obtained a qualified audit opinion for 2012/13.

“The thing that worries me as a taxpayer is that of paying public servants who ignore legal prescripts and are found wanting on the same thing year in and year out,” Scopa chairman Sipho Nkosi said.

In his report, the Auditor-General found that the department had underspent its budget by R25,4 million due to savings in the administration arising from unfilled vacant posts and the implementation of cost-cutting measures.

The department had not spent 45% of its capital budget and conditional grants were underspent by 53%.

The department later admitted to Scopa that it had not applied for funds forfeited to the Treasury to be returned.

The A-G found that goods and services totalling over R13 million were procured without obtaining the required three price quotes, and there was irregular expenditure of R13,8 million due to the flouting of tender policies.

The department was also found to have supplied unreliable information on certain issues contained in the audit.

Nkosi said it was disappointing that the department was still found wanting since it had also been cited for failing to follow tender policies in 2011/12.

“I don’t get the real answers as to why you commit such a hideous crime of undermining the processes, procedures and laws of our land year in and year out.

“We really would plead with you to do what is expected of you to do. You can’t be qualified and found wanting on the same thing every year.

“I can anticipate that you will be found wanting in 2013/14 unless you change. You have opportunity and enough time to change, unless you tell me you have no qualifications,” he said.

Nkosi added it was concerning that a department with a small budget could not account for its funds.

The DA’s Sizwe Mchunu questioned the department’s intention in providing unreliable information to the Auditor-General. “Is it an attempt to mislead the A-G, or that you did not know what information to provide?” he asked.

Responding to some of the issues raised, the department’s chief finance officer, Eric Ramsamy, said the use of blanket approvals had been abandoned and deviation from the use of three quotes was a rare occurrence now.

He said the department had issued a circular to all staff to enforce compliance with tender procedures. Underspending of the budget was due to savings in the compensation of employees and prudent cost-cutting.

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