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Govt officials who flout procurement rules could pay the price, warns AG

The changes to the Public Audit Act mean Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu can refer matters for investigation, demand binding remedial action and issue a certificate of debt to hold accounting officers who fail to act personally liable for funds lost.

FILE: Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Picture: GCIS

CAPE TOWN - Government officials who continue to flout the law and procurement rules could be held personally liable for money lost through irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

That’s the message from Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu.

On Wednesday, he revealed that irregular spending by national and provincial departments had soared by more than R10 billion – from R51 billion last year to R62.6 billion.

But Makwetu has begun to use the beefed-up powers provided by amendments to the Public Audit Act, which came into force in April.

He said that 16 departments and entities were chosen to be probed for material irregularities, which means any theft, fraud, breach of the rules or the law that could cause the loss of public funds.

"In all of the 432 financial statements, having selected a sample of 16 this year, we identified material irregularities among eight entities, adding up to R2.8 billion.”

Next year Makwetu plans to audit 89 departments and entities for material irregularities.

"We’re looking for transactions that normally find their way into the dark, deep corners where you can’t easily find them, so you’ve got to strengthen your capacity to forensically test transactions on an ongoing basis."

The changes to the Public Audit Act mean Makwetu can refer matters for investigation, demand binding remedial action and issue a certificate of debt to hold accounting officers who fail to act personally liable for funds lost.

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