By Boitumelo Babuseng MPL, DA Northern Cape Provincial Spokesperson of Finances:
Poor management of the Northern Cape Gambling Board is not only threatening the continued existence of the board itself but is also threatening provincial revenue.
The Northern Cape Gambling Board, which is wholly dependent on the Department of Economic Development for continued funding of its operations, is currently running at a loss, with the total liabilities of the board exceeding its assets by R437 438.
This is not surprising given that the management of the board’s finances is severely compromised by the fact that the board is operating without a supply chain management unit and that its finances are being managed by the Chief Financial Officer, in conjunction with the boards receptionist and office assistant, whom she is currently training in the ways of financial management.
This came to light during the entity’s annual report presentation to the legislature earlier this week.
Poor financial management of the board, which has failed to improve on its audit opinion of “unqualified with findings” since the 2011/2012 financial year, is seen in the fact that goods and services were procured without obtaining three quotations and without obtaining a valid tax certificate from the service provider.
On top of poor financial management issues within the board, the board is also failing on an operational level.
This can be seen in the board’s inability to properly clamp down on illegal gambling operations in the province.
It was reported in yesterday’s meeting that SAPS is colluding with illegal gambling operations and it does not want to execute seizure warrants because it does not have space for confiscated machines.
The inability of the board to effectively deal with both financial and operational challenges is threatening the regulation of the gambling industry.
The Gambling Board has the important task of facilitating the collection of revenue from casino taxes, which are the third biggest revenue source in the province. According to the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) 2015/2016, revenue from casino taxes to be collected in the 2014/2015 financial year amounted to R20,275 million. Under collections of revenue, however, were reported for 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, according to the MTEF 2014/2015.
The DA is mindful that the board, which is new, is left to clean up the mess created by the previous board under the political leadership of former MEC, John Block. The DA also notes the commitment made by the board to address all issues raised by the Auditor-General and the portfolio committee.
In this regard, the DA is calling on Acting MEC, Mac Jack, to exercise political oversight over the board and take the Gambling Board under its wing and assist them to implement all AG recommendations as well as long outstanding SCOPA resolutions.
Stringent regulation of the gambling industry is necessary in order to ensure that long term economic benefits from gambling activities are realised for the people of the Northern Cape.
In this regard, revenue collection must be safeguarded and improved upon so that more money is made available to improve and expand upon services for the people of this province.