SCOPA to investigate Department of Public works’ responses on allegations of irregular awarding of tenders
On Tuesday, 21 April 2015, the North West Provincial Legislature’s Standing Committee on Provincial Public Accounts (SCOPA) has resolved to investigate the departmental responses on media allegations that there are irregular awarding of tenders and that the department owes service providers over R600 million.
This came after the Committee held a meeting with the department to respond to these allegations and discuss the audit outcomes for the financial year 2013/14.
The MEC for the Department, Madoda Sambatha said in an interview with the media, the department did not stipulate that there are irregular awarding of tenders and that the department owes service providers over R600 million.
“We informed the media that the department has accruals of around R300 million as a result of over commitments in the past financial year. As of 31 March 2015, amounts owed to service providers is R250 million,” said MEC Sambatha.
The Chairperson of the Standing Committee, Hon. Mahlakeng Mahlakeng said the department’s responses could create a serious problem if they were to be found incorrect. “It appears that everything that was alleged by the media might be correct except the irregular awarding of tenders in the department only, which casts a doubt in my mind in how this would be possible that other facts are correct except for this part, given the historical background of the department,” said Hon. Mahlakeng.
The Deputy Business Executive at the Office of the Auditor General, Mr. Schalla van Schalkwyk said on the year under review, the department obtained a qualified audit opinion with matters of emphasis being on an irregular expenditure of R502 579 325 and R55 785 759 from prior years where payments were made in contravention with the supply chain management processes.
“The department made fruitless and wasteful expenditure to the tune of R24 413 000; it received a qualified audit opinion with matters of emphasis on the irregular expenditure of R2 074 611 000; and there is lack of appropriate oversight exercised by management to ensure that the Supply Chain Management (SCM) policy is implemented and monitiored,” said Mr. Van Schalkwyk.
Amongst other matter raised was the lack of systems to support the information needs of the department; skilled and competent personnel recruited are not recruited for various vacant positions thus there are no sufficiently skill resources to support the departments core functions such as engineers, quantity surveyors, architects, etc; audit findings are not addressed and an action plan enforced to address matters raised.
The Acting HOD, Ms. Fridah Mantsime argued that it is still a working progress to obtain an unqualified audit opinion, but have managed to recover most monies from employees on the fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R R24 413 000 and also argued that the PFMA process regarding the irregular expenditure is problematic, particularly when the Accounting Officer has done all necessary investigations on cases.
“We have a challenge in that we end up with a case that does not get any verdict on what should be done thereafter, once investigations have been finalised, the PFMA law does not specify on what to do and the monies owed stay as an irregular expenditure, hence we end up having recurring irregular expenditures every financial year,” argued Ms Mantsime.
The Chairperson of the Committee was also disturbed with the department’s resolution to request assistance from some of the EPWP workers to assist in the critical directorates such as SCM, without any form of experience.
“It is worrying to hear that the bulk of issues raised by the AG are recurring matters with the very same personnel in the same unit of SCM who do not seem to know or respect the role of positions allocated to them,” said Hon. Mahlakeng.
The Committee maintained that the department has a lot to deal with in having an effective operation, but were happy that they are willing to cooperate and that other matters had not been adequately addressed but there is commitment that a substantial report will be submitted within seven (7) working days.
For more information, contact:
Tel: 018 392 7000
Cell: 079 527 0628
Fax: 086 695 3784
SOURCE: South African Official News