KZN plan for zero audit qualifications

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Pretoria - As from next year, the municipalities and government departments in KwaZulu-Natal will be implementing a plan to lead to zero audit qualifications.

Dubbed Operation Clean Audit 2014, all 14 provincial departments and the 61 municipalities in the province have signed a pledge committing themselves to a set of targets that have to be achieved starting from next year through to 2014.

According to the operation, the goals to achieve are that between 2010 and 2011, no municipality and provincial department should have qualifications or disclaimers in terms of audit opinions and at least 37 of the 61 municipalities and nine provincial departments achieving clean audit opinions by 2012.

At least 46 of the 61 municipalities and 11 departments should achieve unqualified audits by 2013 and all municipalities and departments achieving unqualified opinions by 2014.

Furthermore, the municipalities will now have to produce quarterly financial reports as opposed to once a year.

Local Government and Traditional Affairs MEC Nomusa Dube, whose department is tasked with leading the programme over the next four years said it was possible to achieve this goal even a year earlier.

"At present, 23 municipalities received qualifications including disclaimers, out of the total 61 provinces in the province," Dube said.

A qualification indicates that something was not done according to sound financial management principles in terms of using taxpayer's money, while a disclaimer means that the Auditor General cannot even make an opinion because no information is available to explain how and why certain decisions were taken.

"This is very serious and indicates that we really need a commitment, with this launch, we are practically promising the nation that starting in 2010, the public will begin to judge us on whether we are really on the track that we say we are taking today," she said.

Dube will monitor the programme implementation and provide a report to the Provincial Executive in terms of Section the Municipal Finance Management Act.

She will use an Annual Independent Monitoring and Evaluation Reports including reports that have to be made to the Auditor General on an ongoing basis throughout each year.

The department in partnership with Provincial Treasury, will assist with capacity building and funding to provide a boost where necessary.

MEC for Finance Ina Cronje emphasized that municipal officials and the political leadership will have to ensure that they study the Municipal Finance Management Act and all other legislation governing municipal governance and municipal finance.

Some of the queries are based on our failure to understand what needs to be done in terms of the law, Cronje said.