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NC’s financial health deteriorating – AG

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The Northern Cape Department of Health was described as being in a “particularly vulnerable financial position” at the release of the national and provincial departments’ audit outcomes for the 2019/20 financial year on Wednesday.

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke. Picture: Thobile Mathonsi/African News Agency (ANA)

THE NORTHERN Cape Department of Health was described as being in a “particularly vulnerable financial position” at the release of the national and provincial departments’ audit outcomes for the 2019/20 financial year on Wednesday.

Auditor-General Tsakani Maluleke stated that the financial health of the Province had also continued to deteriorate.

“The Department of Health’s current liabilities exceed current assets by R20 million and the bank overdraft stands at R459 million, resulting in the department’s inability to pay its service providers. Furthermore, the department will use more than 10 percent of next year’s budget to meet current obligations, which will affect the implementation of planned initiatives and consequently service delivery.”

The Department of Health was identified as the top contributor towards fruitless and wasteful expenditure amounting to R7.3 million in the Province, while it incurred irregular expenditure of R537 million.

The auditor-general is investigating two contracts involving Covid-19 expenditure at the Department of Health where overpayments were made, along with an instance of inadequate contract management.

It is also scrutinising a three-year contract awarded by the Department of Health in November 2018 for the collection of medical waste to a supplier where the fixed monthly pricing awarded to the supplier was found to “significantly differ” from the variable cost pricing contained in the original bid.

“The accounting officer did not agree that there was any non-compliance in the procurement process. We referred the matter to the National Treasury in October 2019 for investigation. After discussions and engagements, National Treasury accepted referral for investigation in March 2020 following hold-ups caused by engagements on a memorandum of understanding to facilitate referral being delayed. In March 2021, National Treasury provided feedback that it will commence with the investigation.”

The auditor-general said it launched a full scale investigation in 2019 into overpayments by the Department of Health for radiology services from April 2014 to September 2018. Payments were made for mammogram services even though the said hospital did not have a mammogram machine.

“The investigation was delayed due to changes in the accounting officer and key staff in the department. The new accounting officer was not aware of the material irregularities reported in the previous year and little action had been taken. An acting accounting officer undertook to re-appoint an investigation team to complete the investigation and to consult with the Hawks.”