Gordhan gets tough on government procurement

Cape Town - The way the government buys its goods and services is getting a shake-up aimed at saving billions, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan said on Wednesday.

This includes saving a targeted R1.4bn by reviewing the government's top 100 contracts, saving a possible R1.8bn by having a closer look at government leases, and by reviewing other areas like travel and the way the government communicates.

The Public Procurement Office has been asked to save around R25bn a year through these reviews and by making procurement systems more efficient.

The government's Chief Procurement Officer Kenneth Brown's office would also check which suppliers are still owed payment for over three years.

''This irresponsible practice must stop immediately,'' said Gordhan.

A single bill dealing with how the government does business is expected to be ready for consultation by August.

Provincial treasuries also have to implement controls in terms of their staff head count and salaries.
He said efforts were underway to help fix poor municipal finances.

He commended the SA Revenue Services and taxpayers for good tax collection, but said the government would work on international government to government agreements to cut down on tax evasion.

The Treasury would also take a closer look at corporate tax underpayments.

But Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier said that as good as Gordhan's intentions are, the slew of legislation produced to address all of the government's financial issues, are equal to ''legislative waterboarding by national Treasury''.

''No sooner have we got through one bill, than another [comes along].

He said the government was unfocused on its approach to a potential ratings downgrade and from President Jacob Zuma down was not coordinating a national effort to avoid a potential ratings downgrade.

Lonely figures: Deputy Finance Minister Mcebisi Jonas (left) and Minister Pravin Gordhan in Parliament ahead of the Treasury budget debate on Wednesday. (Photo: Jenni Evans)

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