IFP: Failure to meet extended deadlines for tabling of reports and financial statements unacceptable

The IFP has been made aware that only 236 of the 296 Departments and public entities met their extended deadline for tabling of their “annual report and financial statements… and the audit report on those statements, in the relevant legislature”.

We are cognisant of the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the ability to complete work, however, the necessary allowances were made, when the Minister of Finance signed the Public Finance Management Act (1/1999): Exemption from Act and Regulations. This was on 31 March 2020, and provided exemptions from existing PFMA deadlines, due to the National State of Disaster.

Departments and entities were provided with not one, but two extensions – 31 October 2020 was provided as the original extension deadline, and a 30 November 2020 deadline was also tabled, in the event that Lockdown was extended.

Yet various Departments, including the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, the Department of State Security, the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Employment and Labour, were unable to make use of the additional two months provided in which to complete their work.

Of additional concern, National Treasury was also non-compliant, and joins the ranks of the NPA, the UIF, SALGA, SAA, IPID, NSFAS and the National Lotteries Commission, among others.

The constitutional institutions fared somewhat better, with eight of the nine entities meeting the extended deadlines. However, worryingly, it was the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) that was non-compliant. This could impact the functioning of the entity, particularly in the run-up to the 2021 Local Government Elections.

On the whole, this rampant non-compliance is both disappointing, as well as completely unacceptable. These annual reports and financial statements are for the 2019/2020 Financial Year, and we are now on the cusp of the next Financial Year – should we expect this trend of non-compliance to spill over into 2021?

We demand – as per the regulations – that “the executive authority must table a written explanation in the legislature setting out the reasons why [the reports] were not tabled”.

We further demand that each Department and entity with outstanding annual reports and financial statements must, in writing, commit to a date – no later than 31 December 2020 – for the submission of the outstanding documentation.

These documents are an essential tool used by Parliament to exercise their oversight function and ensure that all are held accountable. This, particularly in light of the fact that South Africa has long grappled with issues of financial mismanagement and perennial and rampant corruption on a grand scale.

The importance – and necessity – of receiving these reports timeously, therefore cannot be overstated.

Hon. Narend Singh, MP
IFP Chief Whip and Spokesperson on Environmental Affairs, Forestry and Fisheries
083 788 5954