State Departments Irregular Expenditure Tops R50billion

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.
Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.

Two parliamentary committees are calling for Cabinet ministers and heads of government departments to be held to account for what they say are “appalling” audit outcomes.

Parliament’s Standing Committees on Public Accounts and Appropriations on Wednesday heard that irregular expenditure by state departments and entities had topped R50 billion and could rise higher.

Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu briefed the committees on Wednesday, on national and provincial audit outcomes for the past financial year.

His report showed little improvement in the way that government departments manage their finances, with just a quarter of the 434 departments and state-owned entities audited so far managing to get clean audits.

The Standing Committee on Appropriations chairperson, Yvonne Phosa, says that Makwetu’s message about there being only limited improvement in accountability when it comes to government spending is “crystal clear”.

“A jump from R757 million to R2.5 billion in fruitless expenditure is something that Parliament cannot tolerate, given the constrained fiscal environment. R50 billion of irregular expenditure is just too much. It is unacceptable that departments and entities simply ignore the PFMA (Public Finance Management Act).”

Her committee and the Standing Committee on Public Accounts want Cabinet ministers and directors-general who flout the Public Finance Management Act to be held responsible for the “appalling” audit outcomes.

Makwetu is set to release his consolidated report on national and provincial audit outcomes on 24 November.