Parliament, Friday, 27 November 2020 – The Portfolio Committee on International Relations and Cooperation has called on the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (Dirco) to account for an unexplained R188 million in a suspense account as identified in its annual report.
The Chairperson, Ms Tandi Mahambehlala, said she would follow due process until the matter of the unexplained R188 million is brought to the attention of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts.
The committee received a briefing on the audit outcomes of the department and its entity, the African Renaissance Fund. Irregular expenditure and fruitless and wasteful expenditure were identified as challenges at Dirco.
Ms Mahambehlala said Dirco needed to strengthen its financial management and internal controls, and implement consequence management. “The audit findings point to inadequate capacity in the finance branch. Basic accounting required to reconcile what is in the cashbook and what is in the bank statements is lacking, from both the corporate service managers in missions and branch finance at headquarters.”
“The importance of good financial reporting in any department cannot be overemphasised, there is a need to recruit relevant skills that will ensure Dirco’s spending is adequately accounted for at home and abroad, but also that the audit outcome improves.”
Irregular expenditure as a result of unoccupied properties abroad concerned the committee. “This department oversees a massive asset portfolio that needs efficiency and prudence, but importantly accountability of the financial resources.”
Ms Mahambehlala said the Director-General needed to hold people accountable for reckless activities regarding public finances. “No cent of this department should go unaccounted for. That will set a bad precedence.”
Annual reports are a yardstick for trajectory of performance for departments. The committee congratulated the ARF for realising a clean audit.
ISSUED BY THE PARLIAMENTARY COMMUNICATION SERVICES ON BEHALF OF THE CHAIRPERSON OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS AND COOPERATION, MS TANDI MAHAMBEHLALA.
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