Cape Town - The auditor general should get “more teeth” to deal decisively with those wasting taxpayer money, said ANC chief whip Jackson Mthembu.
During the State of the Nation Address (SONA) debate at Parliament on Monday, Mthembu raised concern over the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of government departments.
“The R127.979bn in irregular expenditure uncovered by the auditor general for the years 2013/14 to 2016/17... could have funded free higher education for the poor,” said Mthembu. In 2016/17 irregular expenditure amounted to R45.6bn, according to the auditor general's report.
In the coming weeks Parliament will finalise the tabling of the Public Audit Amendment Bill. The public has until 16:00 February 23 to make submissions for the draft amendment bill. Among other things, the bill will allow the auditor general to refer undesirable audit outcomes to an appropriate body for investigation. The auditor general will also be able to recover losses against responsible persons.
“[The legislation] will give the auditor general more teeth to decisively deal with those who waste taxpayer money,” said Mthembu.
Last year Auditor General Kimi Makwetu said a review of his office's powers is not a small step. The current Public Audit Act only allows the auditor general to audit and report on what he finds, with no obligation to take his findings further, Fin24 reported.
“We do not have power to dismiss people as an audit office, nor do we have power to do all other things. We are doing our bit to shine light on many areas that are in the dark,” he said.