Audit teams deployed for R500 bilion economic stimulus package
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Johannesburg - Auditor-general Kimi Makwetu has said his office will this week deploy multi-disciplinary teams to undertake audits of the R500 billion fiscal relief package allocated to some of the organs of the state.
"We are ready on our side to get going," Makwetu said when briefing the standing committee on auditor general on Friday.
"Next week teams go to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF), South African Social Security Agency (Sassa) and Department of Health," he told the MPs.
President Cyril Ramaphosa announced last month the multi billion rand economic stimulus package, which Makwetu's office deems that it has a definite role to assist the government to safeguard their ability to account in times of need and crisis.
"In the South African context, with a special focus on the efforts to protect the health and well being of citizens, an immediate area of risk lies in the increase of emergency procurement in the areas of health, education, water services and many others.
"Beyond that we also see developments such as small medium enterprise support programmes being ramped up, massive utilisation of UIF and other funds to enable government's response," Makwetu said in a statement.
He also said their audit focus was material procurement distribution of funds and related transactions as well as processes responding to the pandemic.
'We will test their implementation of preventative controls and report on any remaining risks," the AG said.
The high risk areas would be reported to the management of state organs as soon as they were identified and control weaknesses fixed before additional payments were made.
Makwetu told the MPs that the exercise was to bring accountability to institutions disbursing the funds.
"We are not to wait until the end of the 2021 audit," he said.
The multi-disciplinary teams, which include fraud risk specialists, will use information technology to look into databases used by Sassa and UIF among others.
This is a departure from the usual audit based on sampling.
"Data scrutiny tests look at transactions. It is to check double payments and other accounts other than the beneficiaries."
Makwetu said they have looked at the reality that their staff needed to be at the forefront and ensure their safety by working remotely.
"There may be additional staff security risks but people do analysis without exposing themselves," Makwetu said in reference to institutions being expected to handover databases remotely for auditing purposes.
Makwetu assured the MPs not to worry about their capacity to perform the added task.
"It is doable without finding additional people. We are not stressed with capacity. It is within our capacity,".
He stated that teams were already in place for special allocations to Sassa, UIF and health.
Makwetu insisted that there would be no need to get new people to audit the R20bn allocated for the health sector as the audit staff assigned to the department would take care of that audit.
The AG also told the MPs that not everybody disbursing the R500 billion relief funds would be subjected to their scrutiny.
The R200 billion credit scheme facility for qualifying firms would be overseen by the National Treasury, and that they would conduct a normal audit on SARS, which would handle the R70bn income support packages for business.
Makwetu said the National Treasury and Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs Department were still figuring out disbursements of the R20bn to municipalities.
He stressed to the MPs that their audit work would not prevent fraudulent activities.
"We come in to highlight those areas as and when it happens. If irregular expenditure is not investigated by appropriate bodies that money is gone," Makwetu said.