Mthatha Express

Payments of scholar transport delayed

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THE Eastern Cape Department of Transport has acknowledged that it has delayed payment to scholar transport operators for the month of September 2021. According to a statement issued by the spokesperson for the Department of Transport, Khuselwa Rantjie, this as the department continues with the validation of contracts and contract terms on a number of operators.

She said the process, which commenced in August, was part of the department’s response to eliminate errors as well as reduce non-compliance relating to the payment of suppliers.

“The department has, according to the assessment conducted by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA), incurred a fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R11,6 million for the 2020-2021 financial year.

“AGSA has stated that this is a result of overpayment to contractors within the scholar transport programme leading to a qualified audit outcome for the year,” said Rantjie.

Head of department, Mzi Mafani, said that taking a decision to delay payment had not been easy, as non-payment within 30 days is on its own non-compliance and weakens small businesses.

He, however, stressed that the delayed payment did not affect all operators, as R72,526 million was paid during the month where there were no red flags raised.

“We are committed to paying service providers within 30 days and, as such, the department’s average time taken to pay service providers upon submission of an invoice dropped from 19 days in July to 12 days as the end of August. In the event we pick-up issues in documentation, we are forced to scrutinise further,” said Mafani.

The department has committed to ensure that the process did not take longer than necessary, with no or less impact to both the operator and the service expected by the beneficiaries.

Mafani added that preliminary findings of the validation process suggested that there may be a need to adjust some contracts to align with current needs and or terminate where contracts have been found to be irregular.

He said an internal investigation had been instituted in respect of both the transactions reported by AGSA and also to follow up on some of the issues picked up during the validation process.

He had been in contact with industry bosses to explain the position of the department on the matter and direct communication had also been made to individual service providers.

“We invite operators to make contact with us should they wish to get details of their individual matters,” Mafani added.

– ISSUED BY THE EASTERN CAPE

DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORT

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