Snap debate on the consideration and adoption of SCOPA reports

The following speech was delivered by Jacques Smalle DA MPL, to the Limpopo Provincial Legislature on 20 October 2015 during a debate on the consideration and adoption of the SCOPA reports on financial statements for the year ending 31 March 2014.

Madam Speaker

The Standing committee on public accounts has a significant, constitutionally mandated role to play in enhancing oversight and accountability for the use of public funds.

The role of SCOPA is to

  • Scrutinise the use of public funds on behalf of the legislature
  • Ensures that government departments and public entities effectively, efficiently and economically use the available resources without compromising quality service delivery for the benefit of the public
  • Ensure accountability for non-compliance

Madam Speaker whereas SCOPA is very good at identifying the non-compliance, it lacks greatly in enforcing accountability.

During the SCOPA hearings last year resolution were taken on all provincial departments which had to be implemented by 30 September 2015.

To date it is unclear whether this deadline was met, but if previous years are anything to go by, most of the resolutions will not be implemented and no one will be held accountable.

This house needs to admit to itself that if SCOPA cannot execute its mandate, which is to hold the executive to account for misusing or abusing public funds, then SCOPA is nurturing the reoccurring bad practices which are haunting our departments.

Definite trends were identified in most departments including:

  • Material underspending
  • Poor financial and administrative control resulting in fruitless and wasteful expenditure and irregular expenditure
  • Poor leadership
  • Poor governance
  • Very poor record keeping
  • Lack of proper asset management
  • Internal control deficiencies
  • Ineffective human resource management
  • State conducting business with family members

The department of health’s budget allocation was R13 billion, which is 27% of the provincial equitable share.

The AG highlighted R870 million of irregular expenditure and R401 million due to inadequate collection of patient and staff debts were incurred.

With a vacancy rate of 53% this mismanagement is highly surprising and quite frankly to be expected.

The DA would also like to know if a breakdown of the R39 million in bonuses was ever received as instructed by SCOPA in October last year. I challenge SCOPA to execute its expectation that the SM’s must resign if there is no improvement in this embattled department.

Madam Speaker

The elephant in the room is the department of education that still struggles can’t disclose their R2.2 bn of immovable assets. Still could not verify the payments of the nearly R19,4 m salary bill. Could not supply R49.3 m of supporting documents. With irregular expenditure in the last 2 years of R2,9 Bn.

If it wasn’t for our educators on the ground who has to work with crumbs and at times perform miracles with our school children, then there is actually nothing to look forward to except a mummy that should have been buried a long time ago.

Section 38(1) a (iii) of the PQFMA requires the entity to implement and maintain appropriate procurement and provisioning system which is fair, equitable, transparent and cost effective. Section 100 could not rescue the department of education now the Hon Rob Tooley under treasury is trying to implement good financial systems.

Let me remind him the systems are only as good as the people who manage them. The time has come to do away with unwanted worn-out furniture.

Madam Speaker, the citizens of Limpopo are entitled to good governance and buck stops with this house. The public expects SCOPA to act swiftly, decisively and in the best interest of the citizens Limpopo.

The executive is far too soft and lenient when it comes to accountability, as long as officials and politicians are given written warnings and slaps on the wrist we will not see progress, we will not see service delivery.