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By Brian Sokutu

Senior Print Journalist


Govt departments blow millions of taxpayers’ money in irregular expenditure

The department of basic education spent R6.4 million in unauthorised expenditure on the national teacher awards ceremony.


From R91 000 overspent on printing hard copies of a strategic plan, to R3.6 million for the state funeral of president Nelson Mandela, the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) yesterday heard how 13 government departments blew millions of taxpayers’ money in irregular expenditure. To understand the magnitude of it, Scopa yesterday conducted an oversight visit to National Treasury – and MPs expressed unhappiness about the department of finance’s failure to hold public servants to account in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). ALSO READ: Water and sanitation department’s irregular expenditure reaches R16.5 billion In laying bare…

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From R91 000 overspent on printing hard copies of a strategic plan, to R3.6 million for the state funeral of president Nelson Mandela, the parliamentary standing committee on public accounts (Scopa) yesterday heard how 13 government departments blew millions of taxpayers’ money in irregular expenditure.

To understand the magnitude of it, Scopa yesterday conducted an oversight visit to National Treasury – and MPs expressed unhappiness about the department of finance’s failure to hold public servants to account in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).

ALSO READ: Water and sanitation department’s irregular expenditure reaches R16.5 billion

In laying bare how government has handled the public purse, National Treasury showed Scopa cases, which included:

  • In the 2006-07 financial year, the department of cooperative governance and traditional affairs (Cogta) spent R433 million on travel and subsistence in respect of the Commission on Traditional Leadership Disputes and Claims, and on legal fees associated with disputes – as well as R693 million in unauthorised expenditure.
  • The Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) in 2013-14, spent R3.6 million emanating from the reported overspending in the intergovernmental coordination and stakeholder management on the state funeral of former president Nelson Mandela.
  • The department of public service and administration reported unauthorised expenditure of R8.8 million, from overspending related to additional members appointed to the then-minister’s advisory body – increasing personnel outside what the Government Gazette provided.
  • Stats SA incurred unauthorised expenditure of R37.8 million in 2017-18, R56.7 million in 2018- 19 and R47.6 million in 2019-20, due to significant budget reductions on the centre of excellence programme.

ALSO READ: R166 billion in irregular expenditure an indictment on Ramaphosa’s ‘new dawn’ – DA

  • The department of basic education spent R6.4 million in unauthorised expenditure on the national teacher awards ceremony.
  • The department of social development spent an unauthorised R15.1 billion in 2019-20 when President Cyril Ramaphosa declared a national state of disaster, due to the Covid outbreak.
  • Unauthorised expenditure of R27.3 million was spent in 2011- 12 by the department of women, children and youth and people with disabilities.
  • The department of correctional services spent R121 million in the 2015-16 financial year, due to the adjustment of housing allowances for employees below salary level 12.
  • The Independent Police Investigative Directorate (Ipid) overspent R91 000, due to the printing of hard copies of its strategic plan for the period 2006 to 2009 and its annual report for the 2004-05 financial year.
  • Between December 2012 and March 2014, the rand depreciated by 21% against the dollar, with membership fees to international organisations charged in dollars – thus the department of communications and digital technologies incurred unauthorised expenditure of R4.7 million.
  • The contract between the department of trade and a service provider for the eNaTIS stopped, leading to the road traffic management council in 2012 halting payments to eNaTIS – leading to overspending of R1.3 billion: R768.4 million in 2013- 14, R392.8 million in 2014-15, and R177 million in 2015-16.
  • The department of water and sanitation’s war on leaks programme led to a deficit of up to R2.7 billion in September 2016 and to over R3 billion by December 2016.

MPs were unanimous in their unhappiness with “less action” taken by National Treasury to hold departments to account – agreeing with lawmaker Sandra Beukes, who questioned the role of the department of finance in performing an oversight role over government departments.

ALSO READ: Road Agency Limpopo: R5.3 billion irregular expenditure incurred

– brians@citizen.co.za

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