The Office of the Auditor General is owed more than R1 billion by its auditees and the culprits include distressed municipalities. The Office briefed the Standing Committee on the Auditor General regarding its strategic plan and budget for next year.
The oversight committee says National Treasury has committed to assist municipalities that cannot meet their financial obligations regarding audit fees. Among the auditees that the Office of the Auditor General is responsible for, include the 257 municipalities in the country.
The previous municipal audit outcomes indicated that about 28% of municipalities were in a dire financial position. However, some MPs are fuming that some of the defaulting municipalities pay consultants but not their audit fees. They want the office of the AG to invoke its powers and take legal action to recover the money owed.
“If it means that the AG’s office must attach those cars of mayors, let it be so that they walk actually and they will take it seriously because it absolutely makes no sense chair that you have municipalities that can pay for consultants but they cannot pay monies which they need to pay the AG, it’s a shame,” says EFF MP Ntokozo Hlonyana.
The Committee, as part of its oversight role, says it’s engaging National Treasury on ways to recover this debt. It says allocation will be made by Treasury to assist distressed municipalities.
“I can confirm that, that will continue because in the response there are figures that are attached to the budget that has been put aside to ensure that those municipalities under financial distress are able to meet their obligations,” says ANC MP Oscar Mathafa.
While the AG didn’t divulge the names of the defaulters, she welcomed the intervention.
“What we will do as AGSA, is ensure that in the next engagement we give you a more transparent view of the reconciliation between what Treasury commits to pay us in relation of those audit fees and what is received compared to the debt that is owed,” says Auditor General Tsakani Maluleke.
While the Office says it is financially stable, outstanding debt repayments matter because resources are limited.