Just two SA provinces procured PPE at Treasury's recommended prices: AG

Gauteng and KZN named worst in terms of paying more than market-related prices — and are also said to have accepted substandard PPE

28 May 2021 - 18:06 By nonkululeko njilo
A special auditor-general's report has revealed that seven provinces ordered PPE from suppliers at prices exceeding the maximum price prescribed by the National Treasury. Stock photo.
A special auditor-general's report has revealed that seven provinces ordered PPE from suppliers at prices exceeding the maximum price prescribed by the National Treasury. Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/inlooka

A special auditor-general's report has revealed that seven provinces ordered personal protective equipment (PPE) from suppliers at prices exceeding the maximum price prescribed by the National Treasury.

The AG briefed parliament on the first and second special reports on the financial management of government’s Covid-19 initiative on Friday.

The Eastern Cape, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, the North West, the Northern Cape and the Western Cape were fingered as the culprits, while the Free State and Limpopo were the only ones found to have complied with the market-related prices.

Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal were named the worst in this regard. The two provinces are said to have also accept substandard PPE.

“When we assessed the awards, submissions and delivery notes in relation to goods delivered, we noticed that no mention was made of the actual specifications that had to be complied with for the goods to be delivered, as required by instruction. 

“In KwaZulu-Natal, PPE of inferior quality was accepted other than those ordered and paid for. In Gauteng, goods were received and paid for by the department that were not the same as the ones specified in the original order documents,” the AG's office said.

The report further states that the two provinces entered into transactions with suppliers who were not tax compliant at the date of the orders, and that the same price had been paid for smaller units delivered and accepted as those actually ordered.     

Of the seven provinces, four did not provide reasons behind deviation prescripts. These were the Eastern Cape, Gauteng, the Northern Cape and the North West.

While PPE is required to be stored according to certain requirements, the AG said it had been observed that this had not been the case in various facilities across the provinces.

In pictures shown to parliament, sanitiser could be seen stored in locations exposed to the sun and rain. Some of them were damaged due to exposure to direct sunlight and, eventually, quality was compromised.

“We found poor storage practices at 12 bulk storage facilities and 23 healthcare facilities in eight of the nine provinces. At seven of the bulk storage facilities in four of the nine provinces, PPE stock was not always stored securely,” the report said.

In some instances, some items of the PPE received by the healthcare facilities in seven of the nine provinces did not meet the minimum required standards and/or specifications. Limpopo and the Western Cape were the only two provinces not affected by this finding.   

The AG has since recommended the following:

  • Accounting officers must focus on the implementation of robust preventive controls. These preventive controls must be enforced and there should be zero tolerance for transgressions and consequence management in order to affirm accountability; and
  • Departments must investigate unjustifiable awards of contracts fully and hold transgressors accountable. They should also fully disclose such instances as it relates to irregular expenditure and recover potential losses.

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) is currently probing investigations involving 2,695 PPE procurement contracts valued around R7.6bn.

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