Government must stop the bleeding

2014-07-27 15:00

The era of having your cake and eating it seems to be coming to an end for government officials suspended on full pay. That’s if Public Service and Administration Minister Collins Chabane gets his way.

This week, it emerged that about R50?million is spent each year on keeping about 400 suspended civil servants at home.

Delays in the finalisation of their cases is making government bleed the funds, which could be better utilised on much-needed services.

Chabane says he will seek to discourage the practice of suspending, with pay, those being investigated on less serious matters.

The R50?million used on suspended officials adds to the billions government is bleeding every year. Government entities racked up more than R2?billion in wasteful expenditure last year.

In addition to that, R26.4?billion was irregularly spent during procurement stages, Auditor-General Thembekile Makwetu reported in February.

Already, the Treasury has issued cost-containment guidelines that limit spending on conferences, travel and entertainment. Procurement will also be centralised through the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer in the Treasury.

While these guidelines will ensure no unnecessary spending happens, Chabane must now hold other departments to account for decisions they take for placing officials on suspension for longer periods.

Instead of suspending without clear cases, officials suspected of wrongdoing should be given other tasks within their departments, pending investigations. Only once investigations are complete and there is a clear case of wrongdoing, should officials be suspended.

Their cases should then be handled speedily to ensure there is no wastage of taxpayers’ money.

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