16/07/2014 – ACDP concerned about money wasted and deviation from Treasury Regulations

ACDP Parliament
Budget Vote 7: Public Works
Speech by ACDP President Rev Kenneth Meshoe, MP

ACDP concerned about money wasted and deviation from Treasury Regulations

“House Chairperson,

For the current 2014/15 financial year, the Department of Public Works received R6.1 billion. Of this R6.1 billion, R241 million has been allocated to lease payments.

The ACDP is very concerned about money that is being wasted through unauthorised, wasteful and irregular expenditure, and deviating from Treasury Regulations, particularly in the area of lease agreements and payments.

The Public Works Department’s laudable initiative to review the validity and cost-effectiveness of all government property leases has exposed several deficiencies. These include space that was unoccupied but paid for; space occupied by non-governmental entities; discrepancies between the space occupied and what was paid for; marked divergences from market rates; procurement through inappropriate non-competitive procedures; missing or invalid lease agreements; and unsubstantiated payments to landlords.

Former Auditor General, Terence Nombembe, criticised government and public servants over, and I quote, the ‘dire situation that has seen a weakening of the pillars of governance protecting South African democracy.

The accountability of the results is not taken as seriously as it should be. Bad results are regarded as a norm and when people get a disclaimer or qualified reports, little happens to them to show that this is unacceptable. That is the culture that we need to be concerned about’.

In July last year, former deputy Public Works Minister, Jeremy Cronin, was widely reported as having said that the department is in a near-dysfunctional state, because it lacked capacity.  Because of this lack of capacity, a number of line departments had been inclined to try and set up mini departments of public works out of frustration.

An example of this lack of capacity is evident in Diepsloot Police station, which has been standing incomplete as a ‘white elephant’ for many years.

We are aware that in October last year, the department said it expected the police station to be completed by August 2014 – seven years after construction began.  Maintenance and the construction of public infrastructure such as clinics and schools has been the department’s biggest weakness over the years.  The ACDP wants to know how the R6.1 billion will be used to address this weakness.

Lastly, the ACDP would like to know if the department has filled all the required specialist skills vacancies which include Chartered Accountants, Property Lawyers, Property Evaluators and Property Managers, and when the highly anticipated SIU report into alleged irregularities in the Public Works Department’s procurement division will be released?”

-ENDS-

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