Gauteng Finance in disarray

Mike Moriarty MPL

Spokesperson on Finance

Gauteng has failed to pay 73% of its suppliers within 30 days. This is revealed in the Gauteng Finance Department’s latest Annual Report and the accompanying Auditor-General’s report which paints a grave picture of the state of provincial finance. Other matters of extreme concern include:

* No progress made with respect to major public-private partnership projects. Incompetence and an inherent political dislike of public-private partnerships has led to the stalling of the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital upgrade and 7 other multi-million rand projects.

* Vague target-setting has led to uncertain performance. The Auditor-General was critical of the performance targets set by the Department, describing them as “vague” which allows officials to claim that they are doing a lot of work and achieving successes while the actual benefit to the province is extremely doubtful.

* The Gauteng Online project has gone backwards. This project is meant to bring much-needed computer access to children of needy families. However, instead of rolling out further access to hundreds of schools, several computer labs have had to be closed down. About R3 billion has been spent on the project with very little evidence of much value.

* Tendering processes are vulnerable to corruption. The Auditor-General indicated that staff members are getting paid for other work outside of government without written permission from the Department over and above their salary, which the people of Gauteng pay them. Moreover contracts less than R500 000 are being awarded without obtaining three price quotations. Other paperwork that is required in submitting a tender is also missing.

* Audit department was unable to conduct two-thirds of its audits due to staff shortages. This means that fraud, corruption and theft could be taking place but no-one would know it. It is true to say that if you want people to steal from you then just allow the accounting system to fall into a mess.

The failure to pay suppliers as required by law still remains a huge problem despite interventions like Operation Bhadala, restructuring, the effective closing down of the Gauteng Shared Services Centre (GSSC), and numerous announcements that the matter is being addressed.

Premier Nomvula Mokonyane’s government has clearly shown that it is incapable of doing basic things, such as the payment of an invoice on time as is required by law. This failure then causes financial strain on businesses and some have even closed leading to job losses.

In short, this department can contribute to job creation and clean government but fails on both fronts.

A DA-led provincial government will ensure accountability and effectively deal with incompetent or wilfully dishonest staff.

Addressing these basic issues will improve provincial governance overall and will also ensure effective service delivery and job creation.

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