Our zeroes today are the government departments whose disregard of taxpayers’ money has seen billions of it going down the drain in 2013.
The press has been buzzing with reports of the new auditor-general Thembekile "Kimi" Makwetu's recent presentation before Parliament’s public accounts committee Scopa. In it he revealed that wasteful expenditure by government entities totalled more than R2-billion over the past financial year, and irregular spending took care of another R2.46-billion.
In both cases, the dodgy transactions increased by more than a third since the previous financial year, Makwetu said on Wednesday. There was also R2.3-billion of unauthorised spending.
Makwetu added that 43% of national departments were found to be non-compliant with regulations regarding the management of procurement and contracts.
This means that despite adequate legislation and many claims to the contrary, the present government has not managed to enforce measures to cut down on corruption and excessive spending.
The auditor-general found that the departments of justice and constitutional development (R39.2-millon), rural development and land reform (R35.7-million), Statistics South Africa (R6.7-million), public works (R4.3-million) and arts and culture (R2.7-million) were the most carefree with taxpayers’ money in terms of wasteful spending.
In terms of irregular expenditure, the five biggest culprits were the departments of co-operative governance and traditional affairs (R503.3-million), public works (R431.8-million), correctional services (R363.8-million), transport (R345.8-million) and defence (R316.9-million).
The type of irregular expenditure seen most often was that of departments failing to obtain three quotes for tenders, as required by law, contracting with companies that did not have Sars tax clearance, or not selecting the lowest quotation, without providing a reason.
When it comes to unauthorised expenditure, the home affairs department took top spot (R301-million) with public works following close behind (R166-million).
The figure of 58% unqualified audits for government entities was an improvement over last year – but Makwetu attributed this to the direct intervention of staff in his office, who helped departmental financial staff correct errors in their original submissions. He said that 73% of government departments presented financial statements of substandard quality for auditing, and that, in fact, 85% of them would have received qualified audits if his staff had not made corrections.
He also spoke on the matter of accountability, saying that there was no process in the system that held leadership to account for such poor performances.