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Tue Jul 29 20:51:18 SAST 2014

Billion wasted on fruitless education spending

DENISE WILLIAMS | 14 November, 2012 00:02
Matriculants writing their end-of-year examinations at Thuto Lehakwe secondary school on October 24, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image by: Daniel Born

The education system is in crisis and the accounting practices of the provincial education departments are not much better.

An auditor-general's report yesterday revealed poor accounting in the majority of the departments.

Key report findings were that:

Schools in eight provinces received academic material only after the start of term;

In eight provinces, bus drivers were operating without a licence or permit to transport pupils;

In seven provinces, meals provided as part of the schools nutrition programme were not served on time;

In Eastern Cape, school funds allocated were not fully utilised, which resulted in a poor pass rate.

The report also disclosed poor financial accounting and wasteful expenditure.

It said Limpopo had lost R95.9-million to "fruitless and wasteful" expenditure across all nine departments - such as unused purchases and interest on late payments.

Eastern Cape recorded R54-million in wasteful and fruitless expenditure, mainly "on employees' salaries".

No details were provided to explain problems the auditor-general found in the salary bill.

Meisie Nkau, business executive in the auditor-general's office, said it was worrying that, of the total amount spent on fruitless or wasteful projects - prior to the auditor-general's scrutiny - the national department of basic education had disclosed only R37-million of the R167-million wasted.

She said the extent of the irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure showed flaws in the provincial and national departments' ability to control their finances.

"The majority of fruitless and wasteful expenditure was identified through auditing, which is a concern . it should not require auditing to reveal this," she said.

Nkau said that, considering provinces spent between 90% and 99% of their allocated budgets, there should have been far better service delivery.

Of the targets set, only Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal achieved over 80% of their goals. Limpopo achieved only 10% and Eastern Cape 35%.

The Free State audit was accompanied by a disclaimer by the auditor-general because he could not verify its accuracy, said Nkau.

Unauthorised expenditure came to R1.4-billion, with KwaZulu-Natal accounting for R954-million, Eastern Cape R297-million and Limpopo for R175-million.

Unfair and uncompetitive procurements were also red-flagged.

For irregular expenditure on supply chain management, Eastern Cape topped the chart, with R779-million.

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Tue Jul 29 20:51:18 SAST 2014 ::