DA decries 40% rise in irregular spending: Daily Dispatch

THE province’s official opposition party, the DA, yesterday raised concern that irregular expenditure by various government departments had increased by 40% over the past three years.

According to auditor-general (AG) Kimi Makwetu’s latest report on finances of provincial departments and parastatals, irregular expenditure has increased from R1.75-billion in the 2011-12 financial year to R2.18-billion in 2012-13 to R2.45-billion in 2013-14.

During a legislature sitting yesterday, where the standing committee on public accounts tabled a report on their oversight of finances in provincial departments and parastatals, DA MPL Bobby Stevenson said the escalation in irregular expenditure was “extremely disturbing”.

According to the AG’s report, the biggest culprit in the latest R2.45billion was the department of roads and public works, which was responsible for more than 90% (R1.95-billion) of the the total figure.

The health department’s irregular expenditure for 2013-14 was R149-million, education R55-million, and sports, recreation, arts and culture R49-million.

The province’s development agency, ECDC, spent R47-million of taxp money irregularly.

Stevenson said: “What is extremely disturbing is that this is a three-year trend of irregular expenditure in this province. It is all going in the wrong direction and we should be concerned by such escalation.

“The fact that most of the irregular expenditure was a result of flouting of supply-chain management processes shows that this is fertile ground for corruption and looting of state resources. This failure of leadership is the enemy of our democracy. It is the thief of opportunity. When you turn a blind eye to evil, you become party to evil yourself. There is no such thing as an innocent bystander.”

Stevenson said a significant finding of the AG was that 84% of departments audited were not complying with legislation resulting in increased levels of irregular expenditure.

He said: “The culture of leadership in this province needs a radical shift. It is only when we hold people accountable for their actions, and they know they will be held accountable and that there will be consequences, that will there be change.”

COPE MPL Bishop Lievie Sharpley said it was a concern that such irregular expenditure was committed by officials who were earning huge salaries, who “were without any conscience”.

ANC MPL Mxolisi Dimaza said those responsible should face the consequences.

“Some of the officials responsible for this are not committed to what they do because they are used by the opposition parties that are making a noise here today to sabotage the ANC government,” he said.

Finance MEC Sakhumzi Somyo said government was not “taking [irregular expenditure] lightly” and would do all in its power to tackle the challenge. —