KwaZulu-Natal Legislature Pietermaritzburg: Thursday, 24 March 2011
The elimination of the fiscal deficit
towards the end of the 2010/2011 financial year is a significant
achievement and we have expressed our appreciation to the MEC of
Finance for her part in this in the finance committee. I am more
than happy to reiterate our congratulations to the MEC and her team
at Treasury here today. Well done!
The province’s books could not have been
balanced without a strict adherence to the cabinet-approved
cost-cutting measures. Provincial Treasury has largely ensured that
the implementation of cost-cutting measures is consistent across the
provincial government and that the outcomes are monitored. The use
of rental venues and facilities for functions, travel and
subsistence and the non-judicious use of consultants have all been
addressed adequately. A solution for the supply chain challenges are
in the pipeline with the gradual implementation of the new supplier
Other items of expenditure, such as
advertising, could and should be restricted further. Treasury must
also expedite an audit of all immovable assets across the provincial
government to determine which properties could be sold on the
steadily improving property market or utilised to meet departmental
needs in place of costly commercial rentals, which account for a
large and ever increasing portion of the budget.
The lessons learned in the implementation of
these cost-cutting measures need to be extended to areas and
programmes most prone to unnecessary bureaucracy, excessive
government intervention and duplication of government functions. The
cost-cutting measures must now lead to streamlining of the public
service, a clearer delegation of responsibility and cheaper and more
cost-effective ways of communicating with the public.
To its credit, Treasury has been continually
improving its capacity in the provision of IT infrastructure. It has
strengthened its forensic investigation unit, legal services,
internal audit services and risk management. Treasury has also made
significant progress in investigating fraud and corruption in the
provincial government. Now it needs to make the outcomes of these
investigations available for public scrutiny.
I have outlined our proposal for a live
access database for Treasury to keep track of all ongoing cases of
misconduct in the general budget debate. Such a database would help
discharge disciplinary, civil and criminal action against offenders
simultaneously and, in doing so, departments would be able to
discipline errant officials more expeditiously than is the case now.
I believe our proposed database would render Treasury’s task in
fighting corruption easier and it would also serve as a useful
oversight tool for this Legislature.
Madam Speaker, we appreciate that the freeze
on the filling of non-critical posts remains in place, but we are
concerned about the fiscal implications of the MEC’s explanation
that not all posts funded in this budget are critical. There is
inconclusive evidence to support the notion that indiscriminate
increases in the numbers of public service posts lead to improved
The distinction between critical and
non-critical vacant posts was first made in August 2008 when the
filling of non-critical posts was frozen in the Department of Health
in order to contain runaway over-expenditure. This distinction
should remain a guiding principle when filling further public
We are also concerned that internally
conducted Job Evaluation processes have generally led to
pre-determined conclusions and have therefore lacked credibility.
With performance assessment now being a requirement for audit
purposes, performance assessment needs to be capacitated in all
government departments and its findings need to be used in parallel
within and between departments when considering the filling of
vacant posts with identical or similar job d.....ve that Treasury
should drive this process.
Treasury also needs to scrutinise additional
allocations requested by departments which have previously
under-spent their budgets. Roll-overs are frequently requested for
programmes that have a history of under-spending.
In conclusion, I wish to mention two issues
that featured prominently in last year’s budget statements but have
been left out this year. The first one relates to so-called "target
lifestyle audits" designed to root out corrupt relationships within
government and between business and government. The second issue has
to do with performance contracts between departments and their
senior management, the lack of which had repeatedly been highlighted
by the Auditor-General. We would appreciate an update on both
I thank you.
078 302 0929