Auditor general lambasts health, education, public works

Ahmed Areff, News24

Pretoria - The auditor general has singled out the health, education and public works sectors for having the worst audit outcomes in the 2014-15 financial year.

"The audit outcomes in education, health and public works are disappointing - and they are the departments that carry a significant part of the budget," Kimi Makwetu told reporters in Pretoria on Wednesday.

"Those are very key departments and they are still failing to achieve financial reporting in a transparent manner.

"We want to draw attention to them as these are important sectors that ought to receive attention."

The basic and higher education departments have a combined budget allocation of R257bn, health R146bn and public works R32bn.

The auditor general SA's consolidated general report on national and provincial outcomes found that 40% of the three departments' financial statements were financially qualified or disclaimed, compared to 12% of the other department.

A qualified audit opinion which means they provided the AG's office with information that was not useful or was unreliable and which compromised their ability to account effectively.

A disclaimed audit opinion meant they were unable to provide required evidence for the information presented in their financial statement.

This means that auditors were unable to conclude or express an opinion on the credibility of the financial statements.

The report covers a total of 468 auditees, which include 167 national and provincial departments and 301 public entities with a total budget of R1 111bn for the year under review.

It found that the number of auditees that received clean audits improved slightly from 118 (26%) in 2013-14 to 131 (28%) in 2014-5.

Makwetu said he was encouraged by the legislative sector's positive results. The sector, which consists of Parliament and the nine provincial legislatures, received six clean audits.

The North West, Northern Cape and Limpopo legislatures received unqualified opinions, which means that while they have accounted fairly for their financial transactions, they however have specific findings on their performance information or compliance with legislation.

The KwaZulu-Natal legislature received a qualified audit.

He said one of the main root outcomes of specific audit outcomes was the slow response by management in improving key controls and addressing risk areas.

He specifically had strong words on the need for leaders to step up and ensure more efficient internal control, as there was an "absence of follow-up and real consequences".