Prasa House in Hatfield, Pretoria. File picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

JOHANNESBURG -  The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (Scopa) has demanded that the Passenger Rail Agency of South Africa (Prasa) board take full responsibility for the alleged collapse of governance at the agency.

Scopa held a hearing with Prasa on Wednesday in parliament to review the 2018/2019 financial statements. 

“During the course of the hearing, it became apparent that the Prasa board has failed to account on why the agency did not maintain complete governance records, including meeting minutes of the board, its subcommittees and the executive committee,” said Scopa chairperson Mkhuleko Hlengwa on Thursday. 

The lack of records had had a negative impact on its audit, as resolutions and other decisions could not be confirmed.  

“This is particularly unfortunate since the board members were remunerated for attending those meetings while there are no minutes, resolutions and any record of decisions that were taken during those 10 board meetings,” said Hlengwa. 

He added that the board was now distancing itself from existing problems even though they were present at the time. Scopa said they also expected the prompt finalisation of the appointment of a permanent board at Prasa. 

“The Auditor-General South Africa (AG) has informed the committee that Prasa’s audit outcome for the current financial year has regressed to disclaimer after two financial years of a stagnant position of a qualified audit opinion with findings,” he said.

The AG's report  - released on Wednesday - showed that Prasa has failed to comply with supply chain management legislation when awarding contracts for large infrastructure related projects.

Prasa was ranked as one of the "top offenders" with regards to irregular expenditure in the public sector, the AG said. The company's irregular expenditure for 2019 had ballooned to R27.2 billion, an increase of over R3 billion.  

The committee wanted to see an improved audit outcome from Prasa, and would schedule a date to call the parastatal for another hearing, said Hlengwa. 

African News Agency (ANA)