AG demands improved financial reports

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Johannesburg - Auditor General Terence Nombebe is demanding better engagement between provincial government department heads and their internal audit committees in an attempt to improve financial reports in the provinces.

"It appears that there is very little engagement between the executive, those in senior positions and the audit committees. This needs to be addressed urgently if we are to achieve the goal of clean audits," Nombembe said on Thursday.

He was tabling the Gauteng Provincial Government's Audit Report for the 2008/2009 financial year.

Of the 12 departments, three received qualified reports. Gauteng was the fourth province to be visited by Nombebe and his team.

Nombebe said the Department of Economic Development regressed from financially unqualified to qualified opinion due to the management's failure to implement sound accounting systems.

The Education Department in the province received a qualified report due to the leadership not implementing the action plan to address recurring audit findings while the Housing Department's inability to adhere to sound accounting standards earned them a qualified report.

The Health Department also received a qualified report but the report was limited only to capital assets and expenditure.

"There is a need for these departments to prepare action plans with milestones to address the audit findings and the Executive should monitor and follow up on the progress," Nombembe said.

However, he felt that there has been a general improvement in the audit opinion for the province attributing to the enhancement of the work done by the Gauteng Shared Services Centre in servicing departments as compared to the years 2004/05 when reports fell dramatically.

While departments performed fairly well, entities did not do that well leading to six of them receiving qualified reports. There are currently 24 entities operating under the Gauteng provincial government.

Nombembe said the entities and the departments that registered qualified opinions were in the process of implementing and monitoring action plans with increased leadership involvement. At entities there has been an improved full and proper disclosure of irregular and unauthorised expenditure where required.