Sunday, January 16

Weak controls lead to failure of public sector initiatives

The government should strengthen its management of public finance systems to ensure that South Africans fully benefit from the social initiatives implemented to serve them. This is according to Auditor General (AG) Tsakani Maluleke, who was the keynote speaker on the first day of the first conference of the Institute of Governmental Auditors of South Africa (Saiga).

Maluleke’s call to improve the functioning of public institutions comes after President Cyril Ramaphosa, in his weekly letter, announced the government’s social employment fund, which seeks to create around 50,000 part-time jobs for the most than seven million unemployed in the country.

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The government says it will invest R800 million in the employment fund, the second phase of the government’s presidential employment stimulus, founded in response to the coronavirus pandemic in the country.

According to the government, the social employment fund is intended to promote job creation in community and non-governmental organizations and to involve people in service to their communities.

“No less than 80% of the funds received must be spent on salaries. This will ensure that the work supported by the fund is labor intensive, provides meaningful experience and offers real social value, ”Ramaphosa said in his weekly letter.

“Social employment is not just about working, but about creating high-quality assets and services for communities,” Ramaphosa said.

However, speaking at the Saiga conference, Maluleke said that his office in its previous engagements with government institutions found that weak controls to government processes and the inability to collaborate and coordinate efforts between government entities do not just push government back. rather, they rob South Africans of the full benefit of these initiatives.

“What we discovered through these audits is that government institutions do not operate in a well-coordinated manner, which is a key success factor if we are to achieve the gains we must and meet the challenges that the president previously raised. right before he spoke, ”Maluleke said.

Maluleke also said that reflecting on the difficulties the country faced regarding the procurement of personal protective equipment, weak controls in procurement processes were shown to make it easy for things to get lost.

“The prevailing controls over our procurement systems and processes were weak and therefore vulnerable to abuse, resulting in fraud and resource leaks,” Maluleke said.

“Government information systems were also not agile enough and government databases were not integrated and this resulted in funds not reaching their intended beneficiaries when they were most needed,” Maluleke said.

Maluleke continued to urge Saiga members to play their role in restoring the reputation of the audit industry by taking an activist approach to their work that [should] Try to serve South Africans first and attract investment to the country.

“I think if we want to rebuild better, we must start by restoring confidence in our accounting profession,” Maluleke said.

“It is time that we leave that space and see the progressive and sustainable changes that are required to strengthen responsibility, transparency, integrity [and] the performance of public sector institutions so that these institutions provide value and benefits to citizens ”.

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