Parliament, Tuesday, 16 February 2021 – The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) today was briefed by the National Treasury on deviations and expansions from departments and state-owned entities for quarter 1, 2 and 3 of 2020/21.

Scopa has noticed a concerning trend in which departments and entities’ disregard the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) and National Treasury regulations, which stipulate that all deviations and expansions have to be approved by National Treasury before they take place. Today’s briefing by the Chief Procurement Office revealed that some departments and entities proceed with deviations and expansions even though they are not supported or conditionally supported by National Treasury.

Scopa’s main concern is the lack of powers this procurement office has in such instances. Their only recourse in such circumstances is to wait for the Auditor-General to declare such expenditure irregular and, in instances where criminality is found, to wait for consequence management to take place. Scopa believes there should be a mechanism that empowers this office to deter departments and entities from disregarding National Treasury’s decisions on their applications.

Scopa has resolved to seek legal advice on Parliament’s role in providing assistance in strengthening the powers of the Chief Procurement Office. Scopa has requested National Treasury to provide it with details of these sorts of applications for deviations and expansions as they happen. This will allow Scopa to call those departments and entities to appear before it, in order to ascertain what other recourse is available to them. This will assist the committee to conduct real-time oversight on those departments and entities.

Scopa will also schedule a meeting with the Director-General of National Treasury as soon as possible. Scopa believes it is important to discuss the lack of capacity and the functioning of the Chief Procurement Office. Supply chain management is one of the areas which corrupt state employees manipulate in order to commit fraud and corruption. That is why Scopa believes issues relating to this office should be prioritised in order to strengthen its capacity.


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