Government officials could face jail time for wasteful expenditure: report

Government officials who waste taxpayers money through irregular expenditure may soon be jailed if found responsible for wastage.

According to a report by The Star, the National Treasury’s acting accountant-general, Zanele Mxunyelwa, has instructed all government departments and state institutions to now follow a new irregular expenditure framework.

Under the framework, government officials responsible for incurring irregular expenditure will be forced to pay back the money, be referred to the police, or face disciplinary action.

The changes are expected to be implemented from 1 December.

The framework also states that accounting officers or authorities must refer irregular expenditure to internal audit units to establish the facts about the transaction, and obtain recommendations on the next steps to be taken if they suspect fraudulent, corrupt or criminal acts, reports The Star.

A November 2017 report found that irregular expenditure by government had risen to over R45.6 billion across the country.

The issue was also a major consideration in the 2018 budget, which found that the expenditure needed to be plugged to preserve a sustainable tax base.

According to Yashika Govind, a senior associate in tax at Webber Wentzel, the budget candidly noted that poorly governed and administered public entities are a burden to the fiscus due to the substantial costs of operational inefficiencies and financial mismanagement.

“Media reports over the last few years have echoed this, and increasingly note that public entities, in particular, are plagued by fruitless and wasteful expenditure,” she said.

You can read the full story in today’s edition of The Star.

Read: South Africa may need to go to IMF for help

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Government officials could face jail time for wasteful expenditure: report