Scopa concerned about unauthorised expenditures by government departments

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Parliament Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has raised concerns about the growing unauthorised expenditures coming from various government departments.

Scopa conducted an oversight visit at the National Treasury in Pretoria to get a briefing from the Department on some of the unauthorised expenditures incurred by national departments by the end of the 2021/2022 financial year.

This is in line with section 34 of the Public Finance Management Act 1999 on the financing of unauthorised expenditures.

The departments include Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Basic Education, Transport and the Department of Water and Sanitation amongst others.

The National Treasury has roped in Scopa to help deal with government departments that have for over the years incurred unauthorised expenditure at the expense of the national budget.

Scope Chairperson, Mkhuleko Hlengwa says, “We need to deal with it so that for lack of a better word we go back to ground zero and probably start the headache again, because in the absence of controls and enforcement by everybody responsible in the conveyor belt of the PFMA likely this thing will happen, but there has to be a particular parliamentary will to make sure that we place correctly the consequences and outcomes of each unauthorised expenditure.”

Officials took MPs through some of the departments with alarming overspending and some of the causes.

Treasury Chief Director Public Finance, Gillian Wilson says, “Unauthorised expenditure incurred by GCIS in 2013-2014 in December, there was a funeral of Nelson Mandela and the GCIS was responsible for communication and there was unauthorised expenditure of R3,696 million in the department.”

Treasury Basic Education Director, Spencer Janari says, ” I am gonna take you through DBE unauthorised expenditure incurred in 2014/15, there was an overspending of R6,488 million in one of the main division and this was spent on the National Teachers Awards.”


Director of Public Finance at Treasury, Pebetsi Maleka says, “On the Department of Women Youth and People with Disabilities this unauthorised expenditure we are talking about resulted in 2011/2012 and it was still the Department of Women, Children and People with disability. This unauthorised expenditure of R27 338 emerged from overspending on the main division and R1,8 million in programme.”

MPs say this also points to a lack of controls from the Treasury’s side looking at how long back some of the unauthorised expenditures have been incurred.

Scopa Member of Parliament, Mzwanele Manyi says, ” I was really disappointed to find that National Treasury seems to be so lacking about things that they should be very strict about, the law is very clear about what it is that National Treasury itself before it gets to the Department on what they should be doing in terms of enforcing the law and prescribing norms and standards of what should happen.”

Some of the issues around unauthorised expenditure have been flagged by the auditor general and Treasury says the money can be recouped.

The Deputy Director-General at the National Treasury, Dr. Mampho Modise says, ” There are departments that didn’t follow processes, but the money was used for the right purpose so they submitted late their responses and requests so that department is we are recommending that Parliament considers them favourable.”