TAU SA expresses concern about Audit General’s report

TAU SA North, expressed concern with the report of the Auditor General on the financial statements of the Limpopo Department of Agriculture. The AG reports that the department failed to comply with Treasury Regulation 11.2.1 and 11.2.1(a) by not recovering monies due to the department and the department has failed to maintain proper records of all debtors. As a result, the department has lost an amount of R2 386 878 and there is no certainty on the department collecting the outstanding amounts. The AG reports that: Appropriate processes were not implemented for the collection of debts owed by farmers. – Some of the debts records regarding irrigation schemes for the Vhembe District were not kept up to date for the second time running and the records of the Capricorn Districts were only updated to 31 August 2005. Only R44 865 of the outstanding amount could be audited. It is shocking that the total amount could not be determined. – Amounts recovered from ex-staff are at present being offset against the relevant staff debt. An amount of R992 443.20 out of the total debt of R5,4 million has been recovered from the ex-officials, which represent 18% of recoveries. This amount is too small in comparison to the amount in staff debt, which is increasing every year, taking into consideration the amount of R740 000 that was written off. Mr Dries Joubert, chairman of TLU SA Noord, said it is absolutely unacceptable that staff debt cannot be recoverable. Loans should not be given to staff members. He said TAU SA North demands full information on the outstanding loans and the policy of the department in this regard. It is a great concern that some farmers do not pay back their loans or do not pay rental. He said farming is a commercial enterprise and all farmers should adhere to the principles of the free market system. Those who cannot pay must in a financial accountable way be assisted. If they still fail, other market related options must be considered. The concern was expressed with the irrigations schemes. In the 2007/8 budget of the Limpopo Department of Agriculture, more money was allocated to these schemes. According to some reports, only three of the more than 20 schemes are partially operational. Joubert said the MEC should take care of taxpayers’ money and not waste it on bad practices and projects that have proved over and over again as hopeless. The MEC of Agriculture is hard working and it shows in the report of the AG. He said this report is far better that those of other departments. He said this should encourage the department to work even harder and to handle the funds responsible.