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Free State Fixing Irregular Spending

The Free State provincial treasury says it has successfully investigated over 2 000 cases of irregular expenditure and steps are being taken to ensure those responsible for the loss of state funds are made accountable. 

Treasury MEC Gadija Brown told guests to the annual commemoration of the International Anti-Corruption Day in Bloemfontein on Monday that her department, with the help of external auditors and other investigative authorities, had revised downwards the province’s irregular expenditure of about R2.7 billion to around R1 billion.

“I am proud to announce that working with PWC we could identify and review an amount of R2.7billion of irregular expenditure and 2 230 cases that we dealt with, of which R1.7billion can be condoned. There has been recommendations to discipline officials in various departments,” she said in her remarks at the seminar held at PACOFS.

“Provincial treasury and the executive council have endorsed the report, and we are pleased that the accounting officers are working with investigative teams to deal with old cases of irregular expenditure. In this way we can manage value for money versus losses and really identify perpetrators,” she added.

International Anti-Corruption Day is commemorated annually on December 9 in recognition of the United Nations Convention against Corruption which was signed in Mexico in 2003.

The day provides an opportunity for political leaders, governments, legal bodies and lobby groups to join forces against corruption. On this day anti-corruption advocates will engage the general public to effectively fight against corruption and fraud in communities.

Brown said the purpose of the seminar was to raise awareness and promote alertness in areas exposed to fraud and corruption, and how the activities manifest themselves within various institutions, both in the public and private sectors.

“It starts with the mindset, paradigm, society’s idea of lifestyle, the idea that you can only be loved if you have money or wealth, that happiness is based on the inanimate or not being able to count our blessings or be thankful, the ethos of the individual, its value system and ethics. That is the root cause, knowing that you can’t have more than what you can afford nor expect more than you deserve,” she explained.

Part of the detection, according to Brown, would be the vetting of all officials and suppliers and to complete thorough lifestyle audits on officials susceptible and close to where corruption may begin.

“We should look at prevention, controls in the workplace, the temptation, the policies and the person who first offers the bribe, the audit and the implementation of controls to deal with the identified gaps. Government should review systems to ensure that we don’t have repeat offences,” noted the MEC.

She also said it is imperative that public sector officials thoroughly understand fraud management and governance principles to ensure they are able to alert the respective reporting and oversight structures about any alleged fraud activities.

By: Martin Makoni