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Durban - The Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) has accused Auditor-General Terence Nombembe of misrepresenting its annual report and affairs when he said in his report he had found tender irregularities and irregular expenditure.
The auditor-general’s report said Prasa had met only 29 out of the 56 targets it had set for itself in the financial year. Also, there had been irregular expenditure of more than R14 million on procurement and it had renewed six contracts without following procedure.
The audit report said “six contracts were amended or extended without approval by a delegated official, resulting in non-compliance with the supply chain management policies developed in terms of the Public Finance Management Act and Treasury regulations”.
Prasa’s group executive officer, Lucky Montana, criticised the report on Wednesday when he and other representatives appeared before Parliament’s standing committee on public accounts (Scopa).
He said the auditor-general had deviated from the real facts when he compiled his report. “We had placed ourselves 35 targets and have achieved 28 of them. There are not major flaws in the annual report. The major flaws are in the audit report,” Montana said.
A number of issues were explained to the auditor-general, but these were not reflected in the final report, he said.
“The auditors took about 45 percent of what we had given to them,” Montana said, adding that Prasa had not been accorded the opportunity to see the report before it was made public.
He insisted Prasa had proof that the officials who extended contracts with private companies did in fact have the delegated authority. He said the auditor-general’s report had embarrassed Prasa as it was sending a wrong message to the National Assembly and its sponsors.
Lindani Mukhudwani, from the auditor-general’s office, was adamant the report was accurate.
Scopa also heard that Prasa had spent up to R33m on legal fees relating to accident insurance claims and “advertising space”.
Scopa chairman Themba Godi defended the auditor-general and called Prasa to order.
He said the entity should co-operate with the auditor-general instead of questioning his report without providing evidence.
“The auditor-general is there to assist you to improve your performance. I know that there is no chief executive who would admit that his company has failed to perform its duties,” said Godi.
He ordered Prasa and the auditor-general to settle their disputes. “I want to get a report that says you have resolved your differences.”
IFP MP Naren Singh said he was concerned that Prasa might be insolvent as it had liabilities of R6.7 billion while its assets had a value of R29bn.
Prasa chairman S’fiso Buthelezi said the company had spent R16m investigating corruption among its employees.
The special investigation had led to a number of senior officials being fired after being found guilty of colluding with service providers, he said.
“There are people inside our business who are not interested in serving the public, but want to service themselves.
“Some of them have been taken out because we want professionals who understand that we are dealing with public money.”