South Africa

News24.com | EFF slams Treasury for 'growing secrecy' after missing deadline to table financial statements

Minster of Finance, Tito Mboweni.

Minster of Finance, Tito Mboweni.

Gallo Images/Jeffrey Abrahams

The EFF is troubled by what it calls a "growing tendency of secrecy in the National Treasury and Finance Ministry" after Finance Minister Tito Mboweni failed to submit the Consolidated Financial Statements (CFS) to Parliament on time.

Mboweni also asked for a second extension for the deadline to submit National Treasury's annual report, letters from Mboweni to Parliament's presiding officers revealed.

Due to Covid-19 and the lockdown, the deadline for the CFS was extended to 31 December 2020.

The Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requires the Finance Minister to provide reasons to Parliament if this deadline was missed.

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In letters dated 15 December to Speaker of the National Assembly Thandi Modise and Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces Amos Masondo, Mboweni said the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) indicated that it would not be able to complete the audit of the CFS by 31 December 2020.

Mboweni estimated that he would be able to table the report by 17 March 2021, as February would be "prioritised for the budget process".

The CFS is mandated by legislation and was meant to provide a summary of national government's financial resources and their application for the benefit of the people of South Africa.

Usually, the national departments' and entities' annual reports have to be tabled at Parliament by the end of September. Due to Covid-19, on 31 March last year, Mboweni himself extended the deadline by a further two months.

Extend

When that deadline loomed, he asked Modise for an extension. On 14 December, he again wrote to Modise to ask to extend the deadline to 29 January.

"As you are aware from my previous correspondence, the audit of the 2019/20 annual financial statements still has not been finalised. Currently the matter is in an escalation process with the AGSA on a long-standing dispute which has been referred for legal scrutiny to hopefully find a resolution," he wrote.

In a statement released on Friday, the EFF said it condemned Mboweni's failure to submit the CFS in terms of Section 8(3) of the PFMA.

"The Minister's reasons in this regard are neither sound nor acceptable, and it is another illustration of sheer incompetence on the part of the Minister and the whole of government," the statement said.

Pandemic

"The Covid-19 pandemic has caused unimaginable interruptions in many institutions including government departments. However, since his appointment, Mboweni has displayed on countless occasions his nonchalant attitude and approach to the work of the department."

"The EFF is troubled by the growing tendency of secrecy in the National Treasury and Finance Ministry. The failure to submit statutory documentations to Parliament for the benefit of all is a sign that National Treasury cannot be trusted."

The EFF said Mboweni hadn't briefed Parliament on the financing of procurement of the vaccine rollout, but instead "went on a choreographed media stunt to spread innuendos instead of telling the nation if there is money to buy the vaccine and where the money is going to come from".

The EFF called on National Treasury to immediately release the consolidated financial statements and said it shouldn't use AGSA as a scapegoat.  

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