Health dept racks up R5.7bn in irregular expenses

Time of article published Oct 13, 2011

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The Department of Health incurred irregular expenditure of R5.7 billion in the last financial year, Parliament heard on Thursday.

In a statement issued by the Democratic Alliance (DA) after the hearings by the Portfolio Committee on Health, it said that this accounted for 25% of the total irregular expenditure by government during the 2010/11 financial year.

The findings by the Auditor General are particularly irksome for the Department of Health as it would be the primary vehicle to implement the planned National Health Insurance scheme that would eventually cost the country R255 billion by 2025.

During Thursday's hearings the Auditor General revealed that it was probing several instances of poor financial control including an official who travelled abroad at state expense without approval, fraudulent transactions involving the department's travel agency and fraud in the purchase of health promotion materials.

“It is crucial that all South Africans are able to access cost-effective quality healthcare. However, the department's inability to manage its own finances raises questions about its ability to manage the vast budget of the NHI,” said DA shadow health minister Mike Walters.

Walters went on to say that the management of the health department's finances was directly linked to its ability to deliver on its mandate, meaning that its financial health is directly linked to that of our nation. - I-Net Bridge

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