The South African government was moving to tighten its procurement systems, with Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan acknowledging on Wednesday that government would not receive full value from its R1.1-trillion 2012 Budget unless material strides were made to improve spending efficiency and to reduce corruption.
The Budget, which was the first ever to breach the R1-trillion mark, translated into a doubling, in real terms, from expenditure levels ten years earlier, in 2002/3. But the Budget Review notes that, despite consistent growth in public spending, there had not been a commensurate improvement in service-delivery outcomes.
“Over the period ahead, government is taking steps to strengthen efficiency in public spending, to eliminate wastage, to improve the alignment between allocations and policy priorities, and to root out corruption.”
Public-sector financial management failures would receive attention and there might also be changes to regulations to ensure greater transparency and public disclosure and more rigorous tender procedures.
Gordhan also announced some specific steps being taken by National Treasury to improve government’s procurement capability, including the appointment of a chief procurement officer, who will have overall responsibility for monitoring procurement across government.
The competencies and capabilities required by those performing procurement functions would also be reviewed and a national price reference system established to detect deviations from “acceptable prices”.
The tax clearance system would be strengthened to ensure that those who had defrauded the State could no longer do business with government and steps would be taken to improve the ability of departments to set the specifications for tenders.
“The Minister of Public Works and I have agreed to undertake a joint review of the validity and cost effectiveness of all government property leases,” Gordhan announced.