Xingwana in the red
THE Department of Women, Children and People with Disabilities has overspent its budget by more than R9-million as a result of unplanned overseas travel and accommodation.
This included money spent on a UN conference in New York where government officials flew business class, stayed in five-star hotels but skipped important conference sessions.
Its annual report for the 2010-11 financial year, which was tabled in Parliament on Monday, it shows the department was still dogged by massive capacity constraints and administrative shortcomings. It was given a clean audit nonetheless.
The department now insists that it has since turned the corner since Lulu Xingwana took over as minister.
According to the annual report, the department overspent its administration budget by R8.8-million as a result of overseas trips.
It also overspent its women empowerment and gender budget by R387000. This was attributed to Women's Day celebrations costs and monies spent on the UN conference on the status of women.
The Sunday Times reported in March that a delegation of 49 officials had flown business class to New York to attend the two-week conference.
A return business class flight to New York on SAA costs R81000.
A sizeable number of the delegates stayed at the glitzy Ritz Hotel on Central Park where room prices start from R5500 a night.
Re-advertising of posts added to the pressure on finances.
The ministry said local and overseas travel by officials seconded to it had contributed to the R167000 that it overspent on its children's rights budget.
The Auditor-General pointed out that the department had redirected R6.3-million in savings on its capital expenditure programme to other programmes where it was overspending. This was done without the approval of the National Treasury, in contravention of public finance regulations.
The Auditor-General also found that payments were made to suppliers who failed to provide proof that they comply with tax requirements, and that suppliers were not always paid on time.
It also emerged that the Presidency had to step in with a R3-million additional allocation after a donor agency recalled its donation of a similar amount due to a lack of transparency. The donor agency concerned is not named.
Departmental spokesperson Sibani Mngadi saidmany of the problems experienced in the previous financial year had now been addressed.