‘Ghost workers’ bleed budget dry

2017-03-15 06:02
The MEC for finance, Elzabe RockmanPhoto: Mlungisi Louw

The MEC for finance, Elzabe RockmanPhoto: Mlungisi Louw

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The discovery of the payments to “non-existing employees” in the Free State government has led to investigation in a despe-rate bid to plug the leaks bleeding the currency-starved inclusive government.

The Free State MEC for finance, Elzabe Rockman, revealed the rot during the Free State budget presentation in Gariep on Tuesday, 7 March.

She said that salaries to seven “ghost workers” have been frozen and further investigations have been instituted to weed out more that are milking the provincial government purse.

Rockman said the disco-very of ghost workers by Treasury was after the initiation of headcounts throughout the provincial government to physically verify the existence of all public officials appointed on Persal, the payroll system used in most national and provincial governmental departments.

According to Rockman, headcounts have been concluded in five departments, namely the office of the premier and the department of Health, Education, Cooperative Governance and Human Settlements.

Rockman said the Department of Education had 31 172 employees at the time the headcount was conducted.

“At the conclusion of the headcount, only seven officials could not be physically verified.”

The Department of Health had 20 662 employees in service at the time of the headcount, and only one official could not be physically verified.

“It was subsequently established that the official had suffered a severe stroke and the relevant processes relating to ill-health retirement was consequently initiated,” she said.

All 628 officials in the office of the premier, 724 officials in the Department of Cooperative Governance and 340 officials in the Department of Human Settlements were physically verified. Rockman said all officials on the payroll of the Provincial Treasury were also verified.

Headcounts of the 1 012 employees in the Department of Agriculture and the 693 officials in the Department of Economic and Small Business Development are currently underway.

Rockman said headcounts in other remaining departments will be conducted during the forthcoming year.

Referring to cost containment measures and perso-nal costs, she said: “Cost containment measures remain a priority to ensure efficient service delivery by avoiding an increase in compensation-related expenditure.

“The findings of the conducted headcounts essentially illustrate that the integrity of our public payroll is intact when placed under the scrutiny of the headcounts. There are a number of administrative and process efficiencies that can be improved on the Persal system, such as the management of leave, transfer and terminations.”

Rockman said the headcounts will also be undertaken in the following departments: Police, Roads and Transport, Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation, as well as Public Works and Infrastructure during the forthcoming year.

She said the headcounts in the various departments are conducted by the Provincial Treasury in collaboration with the relevant departments.

“We did not take the easy road to simply outsource and pay external consultants to perform this service,” Rockman said.

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