Plan to call in CAs to help with council finances

2013-04-17 00:00

THE declining performance in financial management by some KwaZulu-Natal municipalities comes as the background to a report that a quarter of the councils in the province have been without chief financial officers (CFOs).

Now the South African Local Government Association (Salga) has resolved to rope in the services of chartered accountants to help improve municipal finances in the province.

A report tabled before the KZN Legislature yesterday revealed that there are currently 17 vacant CFO posts which are occupied in an acting, month-to-month or consultant capacity.

The report was prepared by the Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department (Cogta) as part of presentations made to MPLs by the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).

The NCOP is in the province until Friday to scrutinise service delivery in municipalities falling under the Sisonke District Municipality.

In an interview with The Witness, Cogta’s general manager for municipal finance, Joey Krishnan, said that by late last year there were 19 CFO vacancies.

“At the moment we have 17 vacancies, but six of the current vacancies have been a carry-over from the 19. They are as a result of turn-over in CFOs.”

Krishnan attributed the vacancies to the expiry of contracts, resignations when some CFOs were hired by bigger municipalities and problems experienced by rural municipalities in attracting and keeping qualified employees.

She said the provincial government had directed municipalities to fill vacancies in all critical posts — including those for CFOs, municipal managers and technical service directors — within three months.

The vacancy rate in CFOs comes against the backdrop of deteriorating finances among 16 KZN municipalities.

Salga provincial chairperson Sibusiso Mdabe said that after seven municipalities received disclaimers in their audited finances in 2011-12, the association had partnered with Cogta, Treasury and the Office of the Premier to undertake a skills audit for municipal employees at senior management level.

“We have engaged the South African Institute of Chartered Accountants to look at the possibility of deploying some of the chartered accountants to municipalities that have disclaimers,” he said.

NCOP deputy chairperson Thandi Memela applauded Salga for its initiative to involve chartered accountants in addressing financial problems at troubled municipalities.

“There is a lot of training and monitoring that has to be done all the time. We are really going this way [backwards], but it is never too late [to improve],” she said.


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