Leaking money: Water Dept's irregular expenditure rises by 300%

2016-10-18 16:19
Wastewater is treated at the Macassar Treatment Plant outside Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

Wastewater is treated at the Macassar Treatment Plant outside Cape Town. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - The Department of Water and Sanitation's irregular expenditure rose by 300% over the last financial year, with the latest audit showing it had increased to R1.7bn, the Auditor General has said.

A representative from the Auditor General of South Africa presented before Parliament's portfolio committee on water and sanitation on Tuesday, and said the significant spike in 2015/16 was a cause for concern.

Of the R1.7bn in total irregular expenditure, around R1.3b was due to the department hiring external implementation agencies to execute its projects.

"When the department appointed implementing agencies it was up to them to ensure that the processes followed thereafter were above board," he told the committee.

"The moment you appoint an external party to implement projects on your behalf you need to monitor it so that the work is compliant. They are spending your funds."

The irregular expenditure figure rose from R431m in the previous financial year.

R68m in fruitless expenditure

Irregular expenditure is defined as expenditure incurred in contravention of key legislation and where goods are delivered, but prescribed processes are not followed.

The department also registered R68m as fruitless and wasteful expenditure, defined as expenditure incurred in vain and which could have been avoided if reasonable steps had been taken.

The representative said the Auditor General would like to see the functioning of these external implementing agencies addressed.

There was a slight improvement in the quality of the department's financial reporting this year, he continued. It obtained a clean audit, but with some areas of concern.

It needed to improve its communication, key controls, and bring stability to top management positions to address some of the audit findings.

The department was due to present before the committee after lunch on Tuesday, but its presentation has been moved to Thursday, as the minister and deputy minister were not available. 

ANC MP Hlomane Chauke promised that the debate with the department would be "robust".

Read more on:    auditor general  |  service delivery  |  water

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