Treasury must capture, keep holy grail

By Adv Boitumelo Babuseng, MPL, DA Provincial Spokesperson for Economic Affairs:

The Democratic Alliance welcomes the fact that annual report presentations from the Northern Cape Provincial Treasury will kick off future programmes of the Legislature. This commitment was made during the presentation of the 2014/15 Annual Report on Friday.

It is also welcome to note that the acting MEC for Finance, Economic Development & Tourism engaged constructively with the Portfolio Committee on Finance regarding Treasury’s performance. The previous incumbent could not even be bothered to attend such meetings.

However, the Democratic Alliance remain concerned that Treasury has regressed from its clean audit outcome of 2013/14. The failure to hold on to this holy grail of audit outcomes reflects very poorly on Treasury. This is the department which should be setting the example for other departments to follow.

Quite simply, it is non-negotiable for Treasury to get a clean audit and we trust we will see this outcome going forward. After the engagement on Friday, we believe that all senior officials understand why any finding is a material finding and hopefully no official will laugh about findings in the future.

Acting appointments, which range from the MEC to the HOD to key positions in Assets & Liabilities, must be resolved as a matter of urgency. It creates instability when staff are acting in positions for more than six months – and it also transgresses national directives on filling vacant funded posts.

Treasury should also plan for its budget properly, as it had underspent by 9%. Cost containment is not the same as underspending and it is crucial that Treasury grasps the difference between these two concepts. Underspending also hides the effect of accruals, which increased by 65% since the previous year. Accruals are basically debts that still need to be paid and the funds would have been deducted from the 2015/16 budget, leaving fewer resources available to meet Treasury’s targets.

We believe that Treasury can repeat its previous achievements if it commits itself to being serious about its own audit outcomes.