The Auditor General’s office has identified millions in wasteful and irregular expenditure from government institutions such as public broadcaster the SABC.
In a presentation to the Portfolio Committee on Communications in Parliament, the Auditor General (AG) disclosed that irregular expenditure at the SABC has amounted to R413.7m for the period 2014/15.
The SABC further registered R18.8m in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, according to the AG.
But audit executive Alice Miller said that the SABC has made progress in terms of its financial management.
“SABC is still qualified. They were disclaimed three years ago, but I would like to mention that when we disclaimed them in 2012/13 they had nine qualification areas,” said Miller.
“This year they have only three qualification areas. I say only three in terms of the progress that has been made,” she said.
Miller said that the failure to collect licence fees, problems with taxation calculation and irregular expenditure contributed to the audit opinion of the SABC.
“A lot of intervention is happening at the SABC to deal with this qualification. The matter we have raised with the leadership of the SABC is that they need to tighten the internal control environment,” she said.
In comparison, the AG said GCIS (Government Communication and Information System) fared better with R710 000 in unauthorised expenditure.
Meanwhile, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) increased its irregular expenditure to R30.2m and fruitless and wasteful expenditure to R2.3m while the Film and Publications Board (FPB) incurred R6.7m in irregular expenditure, said the AG.
Despite these numbers, Miller said that, in her view, she didn’t “believe the portfolio is doing badly”.
“If you look at the outcomes per se, GCIS has moved from an unqualified audit opinion with findings to unqualified with no findings,” Miller said.
“For this year, they are clean. Last year they had material adjustments on their financial statements which they managed to resolve,” she added.
Miller further said that organisations within the portfolio need to focus on weak spots such as supply chain management.
In presenting her report to the committee, Miller also warned members of the limitations of the AG’s office.
“We assess the risk of fraud but we are not responsible for fraud identification and fraud prevention,” she said.