The Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries today met with the Agricultural Research Council (Arc) and the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, which reported on its first quarter performance for the 2018/19 financial year. Arc was given the opportunity to respond to the Portfolio Committee’s request to provide a progress report in response to the Auditor-General’s findings for the 2017/18 year.
The committee welcomed the fact that 50% of Arc’s staff complement at senior management level are women and that it also employs about 350 postgraduate students, as reported at the last meeting with Arc. However, the committee is concerned about its financial viability, as irregular expenditure amounted to R107 million and overspending to R77 million.
Arc received a qualified report with 118 audit findings from the Auditor-General for the 2017/18 year. It today told the committee about progress on interventions, such as the revised delegations of authority framework and review of finance job profiles so that employees know their roles and responsibilities.
Arc has also set up an interim year-end system to address the annual financial statement/disclosure-related findings. With regard to property, plant and equipment, a draft asset management policy has been prepared. Title deeds for Arc-owned land has also been obtained and linked to the asset register.
Arc also reported that the 14 institutions that report to it have their own financial management systems. Furthermore, its financial management system needs to be upgraded and is currently being addressed. Irregular supply chain management expenditure identified is being investigated by the relevant institute. A contract register and a fruitless and wasteful expenditure register is in place. The person responsible for incurring the fruitless and wasteful expenditure has been identified and an investigation is underway.
The Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Rosina Semenya, said the committee would like to see consequence management for poor performance, irregular, and fruitless and wasteful expenditure and for those who do not follow Arc’s policies and regulations.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.