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Bid to stamp out negative audit opinions

ALL national and provincial government departments must now tell the Auditor-General every three months exactly what they are doing to solve their problems

Auditor-General Terence Nombembe told a press conference in Parliament yesterday that the new move would help stamp out negative audit opinions issued every year.

"Instead of reviewing at the end of the year we will confirm that accounting officers and ministers are looking at what they should be looking at," Nombembe said.

He said national government departments had made a lot of progress towards clean audits because last year none of them received the most negative audit opinion - a disclaimer.

But many still did not obey the Public Finance Management Act, nor were they able to prove that they were delivering services, he said.

Departments are especially bad at compiling registers of their movable assets.

"The only remaining sticky matter is assets. This needs a lot more urgent attention," Nombembe said.

His office had found a large number of vacancies in important government jobs, and that people did not have the "capacity" to make sure that government officials were performing properly.

"The tendency is to rely on consultants and not to do some of the work that needs to be done," Nombembe said of government officials.

He said government officials were also not able to keep proper records and documents, in line with the law.

"These things may sound very basic but these are the issues that keep taking us backwards, and that is why we have taken time to identify exactly what is giving rise to these continuous (audit) findings," he said.

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