North West Scopa calls on education dept to address irregular expenditure of over R1bn

2019-10-23 22:40
The North West education department has been asked to account for R1bn in irregular expenditure.

The North West education department has been asked to account for R1bn in irregular expenditure.

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The North West Standing Committee on Provincial Public Accounts (SCOPA) has called on the provincial department of education to address irregular expenditure of over R1bn.

The committee, chaired by Job Dliso, has instructed the department to involve the inter-ministerial task team to assist in investigating irregular expenditure of over R383m in the 2018/19 financial year and R1.1bn in the previous financial years.

This follows the Public Finance Management Act public hearing with the department for the 2018/19 audit outcomes.

According to the audit report on the current financial year, the irregular expenditure investigations are hampered due to a lack of capacity and skills to perform investigations and follow due processes.

Dliso said some of the irregular expenditure emanates from the R254.1m stationery contract that was issued in the 2016/17 financial year for three years.

"The department seems to be stagnant and dragging its feet on investigating cases worth millions of rands hence we recommend the usage of this important unit of state that was established by the National Treasury.

"Instead of investigating these cases such as over R10m that stems from an order generated after delivery of services or the R42.2m due to non-compliance of supply chain processes,  the department is not applying consequence management to recover the monies lost to state,” said Dliso.

He said the department's underspending of over R192m on an infrastructure grant that includes building and maintenance of schools due to lack of capacity is also of serious concern.

"The Standing Committee is also worried about unspent grants on schools as service delivery is affected and instead of implementing the projects, the department is rather shifting its responsibilities to other organs of state such as Developmental Bank of South Africa and Industrial Development Trust, but without proper schools infrastructure roll-out plan.

"We are almost five months towards the end of the financial year, yet the department claims that it does not have such a plan due to capacity challenges. The Standing Committee is also worried that the same mistake that happened in the previous financial year will recur, where infrastructure grant was moved from the province to Eastern Cape due to lack of planning and underspending," said Dliso.

Post audit action plan

Dliso urged the department to submit a detailed post audit action plan, with proper timelines and a comprehensive report on consequence management with details on all cases and action taken.

"The department must involve all law enforcement agencies to ensure that supply chain transgressors are apprehended... We need effective inter-governmental relations between departments to ensure that our people are provided with good schools.

"We also need a comprehensive report on schools infrastructure rollout plans and projects list and their status quo," he said.

Johannes Mohlala, who was appointed to stabilise teaching and learning activities in the department, said six officials were served with notices to provide justifiable reasons for irregular expenditure incurred and subsequent to their submissions.

Mohlala said R4.1m was cleared after consultation with the Auditor-General.

"While certain officials resigned or were dismissed, the department is in the process of appointing an independent audit/accounting firms to investigate irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure and guide on consequence management," said Mohlala.

He also said the department is currently engaged in the finalisation of a memorandum of understanding with the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) towards the public entity serving as an implementing agent.

"Upon our engagement with the Department of Public Works and Roads, we discovered that it does not have enough technical and professional support on the building environment hence we employed 16 professionals within the infrastructure Chief Directorate," Mohlala said.

Read more on:    scopa  |  mahikeng  |  education

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