Minister calls for clean local, provincial audit reports

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Johannesburg - Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Sicelo Shiceka, has made a call to all provincial and local government departments to achieve clean audit reports by 2014.

He made the call during the launch of Operation Clean Audits by 2014 in Johannesburg on Thursday.

The operation was launched at a meeting of senior government officials from all spheres of government, as well as the Financial Intelligence Centre, the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) and the Accountant General.

The other 600 attendees included Business Unity South Africa, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Banking Association of South Africa, the development Bank of South Africa, Anti-Corruption Co-ordinating Unit, South African Police Services and Parliament.

The main purpose for the project is to address challenges faced by provincial and local government departments with regards to audit management, especially audit findings and queries from the Auditor-General, and to help them achieve clean audits by 2014.

Minister Shiceka also said set out a bold initiative to turn around municipalities in the country, improve service delivery and ultimately improve public confidence in government.

"There is no way that one can separate effective and efficient delivery of services to our people from the ability of government at the local level to achieve clean financial audits," said Minister Shiceka.

He said the broader developmental agenda had always been stymied by government at local level to manage finances and exercise financial accountability

While government has consistently placed service delivery high on its agenda since 1994, Auditor-General's reports have also consistently pointed to queries relating to ineffective institutions, ineffective structures, poor performance or an absence of systems.

"This is especially so with regards to financial management and systems. This negative picture seriously affects government service delivery plans in general and corporate governance in particular," said the minister.

According to the department, provincial and local governments are faced with challenges including inadequate skills on planning, budgeting and public financial management; poor interface between financial and non-financial information; the inability to manage cash-flow significantly; inadequate skills on credit and debt management and duplication of payments in some instances and funds not accounted for.

These departments also lack systems to manage audit queries and recommendations, in both internal and external auditing and have inadequate systems with regard to corporate governance.

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