File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

National Students Financial Aid Scheme audit the ’worst ever’

By Okuhle Hlati Time of article published Feb 11, 2021

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Cape Town – Parliament’s portfolio committee on Higher Education, Science and Technology has described the National Students Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) audit outcomes under administration as the “worst ever”.

According to the findings at present with the auditor-general, NSFAS has incurred R5 billion in irregular expenditure for the 2019/2020 period, while the 2018/2019 figure stands at R3.2bn.

These two periods were under former NSFAS administrator Randall Carolissen, whose term ended in December.

The public entity’s annual report outcomes were tabled yesterday by the auditor-general’s Luthando Mehlomakulu, who reported that for the past three financial periods NSFAS had qualified audit opinions and flagged that there was no paper trail for some of the issues.

“Regarding credible financial reporting, financial statements were received on time as required. However, the quality of the statements after auditing was not adequate for both 2019/2020 and 2018/2019.

’’We identified material misstatements and these misstatements could not be corrected, resulting in a qualification,” he said.

Mehlomakulu said there was no evidence the repayments made to universities had been properly accounted for and evidence could not be obtained that interest received from student loans had also been accounted for.

He said there was no evidence on the amounts owed by universities because of a lack of reconciliation between NSFAS and some universities.

“There were also credibility issues in NSFAS performance reports. We identified that we can rely on only 36% of achievements that have been reported,” he said.

Higher education portfolio committee chairperson Philly Mapulane said the public entity was in bad shape because of the findings.

“The past three financial years under the administrator have been the worst ever, judging by the findings of the auditor-general.

“A lot of material findings have been highlighted, things that were meant to be achieved through the administrator were not – in fact they all got worse.

’’Issues that triggered NSFAS to be under administration still exist. It is good that we now have a board and have resumed its responsibilities.

“We are now hoping for a turnaround by the new leadership. This committee has had running battles with the previous administrator where all these things were pointed out.

“We were informed that the audit outcomes would be bad and that there is no system of managing performance. Now that has been confirmed by the AG,” said Mapulane.

Cape Times

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