Court dismisses Road Accident Fund's bid to block release of audit report
The high court in Pretoria has dismissed an application by the Road Accident Fund (RAF) to prevent the auditor-general publishing its disclaimer of opinion and audit report on the financial affairs of the fund.
The RAF wanted to stop the report being published pending a review of the AG's findings.
The court fight between the RAF and auditor-general Tsakani Maluleke has highlighted that the fund has liabilities amounting to more than R300bn.
The RAF decided to change its accounting policy from International Financial Reporting Standards to the International Public Sector Accounting Standards.
By adopting the new standards, it is alleged the RAF understated its liabilities by about R300bn when compared to the previous year’s valuation of the liability.
The AG said the disclaimer was on the basis that the RAF’s financial statements were not prepared in accordance with the prescribed financial reporting framework and not supported by full and proper records.
The RAF argued that if the disclaimer and audit report were published, it would lead to the RAF suffering irreparable harm.
If the AG's report was published, the RAF's chances of obtaining funding on its own would be substantially diminished.
In its judgment on Thursday, the court said it was not persuaded that the RAF has established a well-grounded apprehension of irreparable harm if the audited financial statements were released.
The harm the RAF might suffer would not prevent it explaining the situation when called upon to do so.
Judge Colleen Collis said the RAF conceded that nothing would stop it using its public platforms to explain the nature of the impasse between itself and the AG.
“The irreparable harm the RAF might suffer must be juxtaposed against the constitutional and statutory framework within which the AGSA is required to operate.”
In terms of the Public Finance Management Act, it is the responsibility of the executive authority — the minister of transport — to table the RAF’s annual report, annual financial statements and the AG's report on those statements within one month of submissions to parliament.
“It will be within the power of the executive authority to table these or to accede to the RAF’s request or defer the tabling until February 28 2022, provided that the executive tables an appropriate explanation to parliament that sets out the reasons for the delay.
“In addition, and in terms of the requirements of section 21(3) of the Public Audit Act, in the event of an audit not being tabled in parliament within one month after its first sitting after the report has been submitted, the AGSA has a statutory obligation to promptly publish the report,” Collis said.
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