Gauteng finance MEC Barbara Creecy. Picture: SOWETAN
Gauteng finance MEC Barbara Creecy. Picture: SOWETAN

The Gauteng government’s open tender system has saved the province R1.2bn in irregular expenditure in the past financial year, finance MEC Barbara Creecy says.

In the open tender system the public is allowed to attend the adjudication process. All tenders valued more than R2m are adjudicated by this system.

Faced with increasing corruption and lack of transparency in the awarding of tenders in the province, Premier David Makhura spearheaded the establishment of the system.

Creecy said since its launch the system had adjudicated over more than 75 projects with a combined value of R15bn. She announced in 2016 that the province would introduce legislation that would make the use of the open tender system.

On Tuesday, ahead of the budget vote of the provincial treasury, Creecy said that the bill had been published for public comment and would probably be tabled in August 2018.

"The open tender system saved Gauteng R1.2bn in irregular expenditure by detecting noncompliance in 26 tenders that were cancelled before award — an indication that this innovation is working to promote clean government and transparency in the public sector," Creecy said.

Makhura recently announced that all allegations of financial irregularities and financial misconduct raised in previous forensic reports by the provincial treasury and not acted on, be referred to the Special Investigative Unit.

"Until those responsible for financial irregularities face consequences for their actions we will never rid the public service of this scourge," Creecy said.

Interventions taken in the provincial health department, another one of Makhura’s headaches that has been responsible for the biggest scandal during his tenure, has resulted in the payment of all its service providers with accrued invoices of under R10m.

Creecy said during her medium-term budget policy statement in 2017 that the state of the department’s finances was a major risk to the public purse.

In terms of the district and local municipalities the provincial treasury oversees, Creecy said the department remained concerned about the high levels of irregular expenditure, as well as the financial sustainability of the municipalities.

She said she had asked Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene to place the issue of financial sustainability of municipalities on the agenda when the provincial finance MECs meet the minister in August.

Adriana Randall, DA finance spokeswoman in Gauteng, said the open tender system was assisting in tackling corruption but that subjectivity in the bid adjudication committees could still lead to corrupt contracts and awarding of contracts to cadres.

Randall said Gauteng did not have a supplier rotating system in place to prevent the same suppliers from continuously receiving contracts.

She said maladministration and corruption in municipalities remained a huge concern.

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