Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu. Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

PRETORIA - Irregular expenditure by government departments and State-owned entities has ballooned by over 50% in 2016/2017 when compared to the previous financial year, topping R45 billion, Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu revealed on Tuesday.

"Irregular expenditure has increased by 55% since the previous year to R45.6 billion. This amount could have been higher, as it does not include the irregular expenditure of auditees where audits are still ongoing, including Prasa which had an irregular expenditure of almost R14 billion last year," Makwetu revealed at a press briefing in Pretoria.

"Furthermore, 25% of the auditees disclosed that they had incurred irregular expenditure but that the full amount was not known, while 28 auditees were qualified as the amount they had disclosed was incomplete."

The Auditor-General said had the irregular expenditure of entities whose audits have not been completed been factored, the total amount of irregular expenditure could rise to as high as R65 billion.

The number of entities incurring irregular expenditure has also increased to 265.

Makwetu said the significant increase can be attributed overall to continued supply chain management weaknesses. He said "although deviations are allowed, we found that it had often not been approved, or if approved, the deviation was not reasonable or justified".

Auditees in KwaZulu Natal, the Free State, Limpopo and the Eastern Cape were the main contributors to the significant increase in irregular expenditure. Makwetu said the sectors with the highest amounts of irregular expenditure were health - R11.77 billion; transport R6.37 billion; and education R6.09 billion.

- African News Agency