The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) says it will step up its role to ensure that municipalities stay in the Auditor General’s good books.
The KZN Cogta MEC, Nomusa Dube-Ncube, said during a two-day municipal finance mini-conference held in Durban, that her department will help municipalities to comply with standard procurement regulations.
The matter of emergency deviation from the standard procurement regulations by municipalities in the province came under the spotlight at the conference.
In the 201213 financial year, 13 out of 61 KZN municipalities recorded procurement of goods and services under the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulation No. 36 (known as Emergency Deviation from the Normal Rules), where multiple quotations are required above a certain amount.
MEC Dube-Ncube said while emergency deviations from the normal procurement procedures are acceptable and legal — provided that they are justified by a genuine emergency or unavailability of required goods and services from multiple providers — officials have to be careful not to abuse the provision.
“Emergency deviations have previously been targeted by the Provincial Treasury in respect of government departments and now it is Cogta’s turn to ensure that this provision is not abused at municipal level to incur what the Auditor General would label as irregular expenditure,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.
“We have noted that one local municipality recorded the highest number of emergency deviations from the Municipal Supply Chain Management Regulation No. 36, with 88 deviations, while another recorded the highest monetary volume of such transactions to the tune of R43 029 440.”
The MEC said while the use of emergency deviations from the normal procurement regulations does not constitute any maladministration, fraud or corruption, she reiterated her call for municipalities to make less use of this provision and reserve it only for critical circumstances.
KZN Cogta, in partnership with the office of the Auditor General, will continue to exercise g oversight over the use of the deviation, and ensure it is limited to justifiable circumstances.
“We will investigate emergency deviations from the normal procurement rules by municipalities and flag any irregularities we find in this regard in the municipal audit outcomes.
“Our role as Cogta is to ensure that all audit queries raised by the Auditor General are responded to by municipalities and appropriate action to rectify irregularities is taken by municipal councils.
“Now, however, we have gone one step further to put pressure on municipal Chief Financial Officers to use emergency deviations strictly in line with the regulation,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.
To help municipalities get clean audits, KZN Cogta is giving hands-on support to its management, as well as its own oversight bodies such as the Municipal Audit Committees and the Municipal Public Accounts Committees.
“Good financial governance remains our top priority. Operation Clean Audit is now a standard programme of action and a way of life for our municipalities… We are determined to make a lasting impact on service delivery through improved municipal audits,” said MEC Dube-Ncube.
Source : SAnews.gov.za