Holding those accountable for financial misconduct imperative for public trust

Wednesday, September 20, 2023

With South Africa’s public finances being under strain, Minister of Finance Enoch Godongwana has emphasised the importance of holding individuals and entities accountable for financial misconduct, as it is vital for public trust.

“Without swift and fitting consequences, we risk eroding public trust in our capacity to manage public funds effectively, with less and less funding available to deliver much-needed services to our people,” Godongwana said on Wednesday.

Virtually addressing the 3rd Public Finance Management Conference, the Minister said rigorous and independent audit practices play a pivotal role in unearthing corruption and financial mismanagement, providing invaluable insights and recommendations for the judicious utilisation of public funds.

“Our public finances are currently in a difficult position, one that is increasing in complexity and uncertainty. The short-term risks to the local and global economy that we predicted in the February Budget have now materialised.

“Government has collected much lower-than-expected tax revenue. At the same time, tighter financial conditions have made it difficult to borrow more and at affordable rates.

“Continued load shedding, the poor performance of our logistics sectors, and the lasting damage done by State capture to our institutions, have made the difficult fiscal situation even more challenging,” the Minister said.

He noted that these and other factors have put tremendous strain on the financial resources available to address the country’s most urgent service delivery priorities.

“Furthermore, ethical sourcing of goods and services through public procurement stands as an unassailable priority. Non-compliance with ethical standards in procurement can have far-reaching consequences, compromising the integrity of our financial processes,” Godongwana said.

He said being innovative, adaptive, agile and solutions-driven during these volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) times is important.

“It is important to note that we have faced similar challenges in the past and managed to make the necessary policy decisions and trade-offs to navigate the storm.

“The path forward is not devoid of challenges; however, we are not powerless. With innovation, adaptability, and a resolute commitment to ethical financial management, we can surmount these obstacles and forge a luminous future for South Africa.

“We must leverage technology, collaborate across sectors, and put our citizens at the centre of our decisions. Together, we hold the power to rekindle public trust, to advance good governance, and to fortify our nation's public financial management,” the Minister said. – SAnews.gov.za