Premier must face reality

Mark Steele, MPP

DA KZN Spokesperson on Scopa

THE target of achieving clean audits across all KZN government departments by 2014 is one which all responsible parties will support. But Premier Zweli Mkhize cannot simply spin the province towards achieving this goal in the face of the facts of the 2011/12 audit outcomes.

KwaZulu-Natal has money in the bank and Treasury has largely achieved control over provincial expenditure. But all is not so rosy in the area of financial management within departments, and this is the issue the provincial legislature and its public accounts committee will be closely investigating over the next three weeks.

With the exception of the provincial Treasury – which one expects to get a clean audit – the two departments with the biggest budgets have serious audit issues. Education and Health have both received qualifications. Issues which were identified last year will be the subject of close scrutiny should they re-appear in this year’s audit report.

The overall picture is that while only 4 departments and entities have improved, 6 have regressed and the bulk of provincial audits (39) are in fact unchanged from the 2010/11 financial year, with the vast majority (29) being unqualified with findings on compliance and predetermined objectives.

The major areas of concern for Scopa will be the increases across the board in all the audit categories of unauthorised, irregular and fruitless and wasteful expenditure. Financial management is not just about controlling expenditure. It is also about getting value for money and preventing fraud and corruption.

The year 2014 is only 2 audits away and Scopa will need to see real urgency from departments and entities to get a grip on their audit queries or this target will not be met.

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