Big plans are underway to improve compliance with supply-chain management processes.
The Gauteng Provincial Treasury (GPT) has, as a core objective, the provision of strategic and operational support to the province, said Gauteng Finance MEC Mandla Nkomfe when presenting his budget vote.
The GDF became a standalone department in April.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that we maintain a targeted and balanced approach in the allocation of both financial and non-financial resources to areas that support the achievement of our priorities. Our overall strategy for the past financial year was focused on improving the finances of the provincial government. This included addressing accruals that have become a serious burden on the Department,” said Nkomfe.
The GPT has achieved several milestones by improving efficiency in the procurement of goods and services and by strengthening financial controls.
Among the measures implemented were the ring-fencing of conditional grants and infrastructure funds to ensure that suppliers are paid on time; ensuring that accruals are analysed within 30 days and that provincial departments operate within agreed cash forecasts or allocations; and reducing unauthorised expenditure.
“We are especially proud of the work we have done with the Gauteng Department of Health (GDH) to turn their accruals around. We will conclude this process by the end of June. This has already had a positive impact on resolving the shortages of medicine at depots,” said Nkomfe.
The GPT has also worked closely with the chief financial officers of the other provincial departments to establish how they manage their finances. In addition to the GDH, one-on-one sessions have been held with the Gauteng Department of Infrastructure Development and the Gauteng Department of Roads and Transport.
In addition, said Nkomfe, the GPT has held quarterly municipal finance indaba forums, during which it has worked “with stakeholders in the municipal finance sector to ensure more effective coordination and support. We have been able to gain an in-depth understanding of the financial management practices in local government to assist us in improving the quality of our assessments of monthly budget statements. These statements have become more diagnostic in nature to help us identify early warning signs that municipalities are experiencing financial constraints and may require interventions.”
The year ahead
In the new financial year the GPT will focus on dealing with fraud and corruption in the system and on ensuring that provincial departments and municipalities manage their finances better. The main area of concern lies in the procurement process.
To this end the GPT will work closely with the State Security Agency to vet all supply-chain management officials, thereby reducing deviations from normal procurement processes and avoiding irregular and unauthorised expenditure.
“We need to strengthen the system of intergovernmental fiscal relations with specific reference to the interface between planning, budgeting, and transferring of funds. Our department will work to resolve the debt owed between the various departments. As part of this, we will provide technical support in the implementation of generally recognised accounting practice standards.”
As in any department there is a need to balance financial constraints with the increasing requirements of the province. The GDF believes that in the new financial year, it will be important to direct resources towards financing priority areas and to enable more effective service delivery while ensuring that debt levels are sustainable.
“We will implement strategies that will result in prudent financial management across the province. Our outcomes-based budgeting approach needs to be improved to respond to the prevailing environment and ensure effective resourcing of outcomes, priorities and projects of the province,” said Nkomfe.
The GPT will also continually review and improve the provincial budget process to strengthen its effectiveness in driving the planning process and monitoring and evaluating public spending on service delivery.
In line with this, the GPT has moved human resources and procurement functions to beneficiary departments. It has identified and notified employees who will be affected by this restructuring to ensure that they integrate as effectively as possible in the new departments.
“While this reconfiguration process is urgent, we must make sure that it is handled with sensitivity as it may inadvertently impact on the working conditions of certain employees. We are engaging with organised labour and all affected employees throughout this restructuring,” he said.
In response to the high volumes of job applications the Gauteng Department of Finance (GDF) receives it has established a professional job centre in Soweto, bringing government recruitment closer to where people live.
Since the centre opened last year more than 5000 candidates have visited it to learn what job opportunities government has to offer.
“This facility will help us to increase the pool of prospective employees from which to select the best candidates and will go a long way in assisting us in achieving our objective of developing a highly skilled and productive workforce,” said Nkomfe.
The GDF will also roll out the second phase of its e-recruitment model, which will include electronic short-listing, SMS notifications, report generation, an advertisement library and a searchable electronic database.
One of the key drivers of the GDF is information and communications technology and the establishment of a connected government that can take advantage of the abundant technological resources available in the province.
“Gauteng is a smart province when it comes to digital enablement. We want to ensure that we continue to embrace not only future technologies but environmentally friendly ones as well. Our G-Link Broadband Programme is critical to delivering these e-services and entails the establishment of a single technology platform for the provision of broadband networks in the province,” said Nkomfe.
The province will benefit from this programme through the growth of its economy, the provisioning of government services and the improvement of network access and connectivity.
“The GDF has intensified its strategic objective of implementing the broadband programme by appointing Deloitte to assist with the definition of broadband, implementation of the business case and its roadmap. This process is almost complete, and we will soon be going to the market to seek implementation partners,” said Nkomfe.
The GDF is also committed to the aim of the provincial government to ensure that all learners in all public schools are computer literate and able to browse the internet by the time they leave school. More than 708000 learners and 38000 educators use the GautengOnline network each day.
“We are confident that the number of schools, learners and educators with access to GautengOnline will have improved significantly by the end of this financial year. Our focus is on building 637 computer laboratories during this year. This effort will increase the number of successfully installed laboratories to more than 2 000,” said Nkomfe.
Although it is committed to its short-term targets, the GDF also has a five-year plan focused on ensuring fiscal discipline in the province and providing a strategic and operational support function that is results- driven, transparent, efficient and customer focused.The plan sets out service delivery commitments and targets that will be used to measure the department’s performance. It is, said Nkomfe, “designed to deliver on the contract between the province and its citizens by partnering towards our common vision of a better and more prosperous nation”.
“We want the GDF to be seen as a centre of excellence in the public sector for strategic and innovative solutions. This has already seen us develop best practice case studies to be used in other provinces in order for us to share our learnings. But all of this needs to be done using sound corporate governance and by providing departments and municipalities with robust resource management services. Ultimately, we want to secure alternative finance sources that include the development of new revenue streams and to economically empower our citizens.”
“We want the GDF to be seen as a centre of excellence in the public sector in strategic and innovative solutions.”