Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) has strongly criticised the SA National Roads Agency Limited (Sanral) for “deliberately” wasting billions of taxpayers’ money through irregular and fruitless expenditure incurred through its projects.
“The impair losses at Sanral is a major challenge which can cripple Sanral,” Scopa said yesterday.
Sanral ignored National Treasury and the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) which “resulted in their finances being in a bad state”, it said.
“The committee has noticed that Sanral has very high irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure as a result of not following supply chain management processes.”
For the financial year 2016-17, Sanral’s irregular expenditure amounted to a whopping R10 billion. Another R15 million was attributed to fruitless expense. These are “huge amounts”, which concerned Scopa “because taxpayers’ money should not be wasted in such a manner”.
“The committee is also concerned with the unsolicited bids that bind Sanral to compensate suppliers if projects fail. This is the case with the N1/N2 tollgate which cost the entity R15 million. This amounts to wasteful and fruitless expenditure.
“There are two investigations against Saral from the special investigating unit and the public protector. Scopa is going to contact those institutions to check progress of these investigations.
“As Scopa we are saying that deviations and expansions must be under exceptional cases and not a norm,” said committee chairperson Themba Godi.
Scopa added that the large number of expansions and deviations was concerning, “particularly because most of the expansions and deviations could have been avoided if Sanral could have done proper planning”.
“Deviations and expansions are a serious problem in government departments and state-owned entities and this is because officials know they can get away with lack of planning.
“There is a common factor in these deviations which shows that specifications are made to suit certain companies which makes it easier for corrupt officials to claim that only certain companies can offer the services.”
Justice Project SA chairperson Howard Dembovsky was delighted at Scopa’s report.
“Finally, the chickens are coming home to roost for Sanral and it’s good to know Scopa does take its mandate seriously,” he said. “It is about time considering the free rein Sanral has been given to do as it wishes for almost twenty years now.”