AG given teeth to bite
Johannesburg - The new regulations empowering Auditor-General (AG) Kimi Makwetu to go after public servants - including senior government officials - guilty of wasting public funds, will also apply to audits for the 2018/19 financial year, which ended on Sunday.
The Material Irregularity Regulations and the Investigations and Special Audits Regulations came into effect on Monday, Makwetu’s office confirmed yesterday.
The regulations also empower Makwetu to carry out appropriate investigations or special audits of any institution should he consider it to be in the public interest, or upon the receipt of a complaint or request.
These include possible financial loss or negative impact on the institution, showing the possible involvement of the institution’s management, accounting officer, accounting authority or political office bearers in any activities or decisions constituting non-compliance or contravention of applicable law, codes of conduct or principles of good governance.
Africa Boso, spokesperson for the AG, said: “The regulations will apply as from April 1, 2019, and will affect the 2018/19 audits for both Public Finance Management Act and Municipal Finance Management Act cycles.”
This means provisions of the regulations will be used during the audits for the 2018/19 financial year, which usually begin after national and provincial departments and public entities have submitted their annual financial statements for auditing by May 31.
The new regulations will also apply to accounting officers and authorities such as directors-general, heads of departments, chief executives of state institutions and members of their boards, even those who have resigned.
The regulations could force them to personally pay for irregularities incurred under their watch.
The publishing of the regulations follows President Cyril Ramaphosa and Finance Minister Tito Mboweni’s announcement last month that the Public Audit Amendment Act would come into operation on April 1, after its promulgation in November.
According to the regulations, certificates of debt can be issued to accounting officers, including former accounting officers and members of the accounting authority (board members), which also includes former board members.
“The AG must, when issuing a certificate of debt where an accounting officer or accounting authority, as the case may be, has failed to comply with remedial action, do so in accordance with the procedures provided for in this part (certificate of debt section),” the regulations state.
When considering issuing a certificate of debt, the AG must consider the written representations, progress or outcome of an investigation by him, any other probe or any other relevant factor.
Alan McLoughlin, DA MP in the standing committee on the AG, told Independent Media that Makwetu had been frustrated for a long time by finding the same problems not dealt with, and no consequences for those responsible. McLoughlin said the DA would, when Parliament resumed, push for imprisonment terms of 15 years for those guilty of corruption.