Fighting corruption not always easy – Gordhan

2013-02-28 08:57

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has admitted he couldn’t simply “wave a magic wand” to make corruption in giving out government tenders go away.

But, he said National Treasury was in the process of centralising government procurement because at the moment, procurement transactions “take place in too many localities and the contracts are short term”.

These transactions aren’t always transparent.

In his budget speech to Parliament yesterday, Gordhan said he would soon announce the name of a chief procurement officer to head the office being set up in the National Treasury to close these loopholes in the issuing of government tenders.

Gordhan announced the office in last year’s budget speech.

One of the first things the office would do is to set prices for goods and services and to pilot changes in procurement programmes in the departments of health and public works, nationally and in provinces, he said.

Gordhan said Treasury was scrutinising 76 business entities with contracts worth R8.4 billion which are believed to have “infringed the procurement rules”.

The SA Revenue Service is auditing more than 300 business entities and scrutinising another 700 entities with business contracts estimated to be worth more than R10 billion.

So far 216 cases had been finalised, resulting in assessments amounting to over R480 billion being recovered, Gordhan said.

The Financial Intelligence Centre has referred over R6.5 billion for investigation linked to corrupt activities.

Gordhan said the central procurement office would look at immediate remedial actions, improving the current system, standardising the procurement of critical items across all government and the long-term modernisation of the entire system.

He also said he supported Public Service Minister Lindiwe Sisulu’s call to bar officials from doing business with government.

From his side he would ensure that the Public Finance Management Act and the Municipal Finance Management Act were aligned to these provisions in the Public Service Act.

Gordhan admitted there were “many points of resistance” when it came to the fight against corruption. He said many people didn’t want to system to change because they benefited from it.

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