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The Auditor General's report on municipal finances should be examined instead of the outcomes being exaggerated, Salga chairman Thabo Manyoni said on Friday.
“A biased picture of a virtual collapse of financial management in many local governments, including the major cities, is being painted,” the SA Local Government Association's Manyoni said.
“But a closer examination of the AG's findings and a more rigorous understanding of the nature of these audits, and their terminology, paints a different picture.”
Terence Nombembe's report was released on Monday, and indicated that only five percent of the country's 343 municipalities got clean audits.
The report revealed that none of the country's metros received clean audits. It showed that procurement to the value of R3.5 billion could not be audited because the required information was not available.
Manyoni said local government was aware it faced problems. Some municipalities had a long way to go before they could reassure residents they were managing their finances properly and that public money was being well spent, he said.
“But local government's ability to manage their finances and meet stringent financial control requirements is by no means as bleak as the initial reaction to the AG's report might suggest.”
Manyoni said an improvement could be seen in the state of municipal finances. Salga was conducting an assessment of audit committees to identify ways to improve oversight in municipalities.
“The key challenge now is to build on our successes, learning lessons from those municipalities which have been able to turn their situation around,” he said.
Manyoni said municipalities needed to produce high quality financial records that demonstrated good governance and sound financial management.
According to Nombembe's report six new municipalities joined the clean audit category, taking the total to 13. These were in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and the Western Cape.
None of the country's metros received clean audits, while 13 percent of municipalities did not submit financial statements in time for auditing. - Sapa