Ramaphosa tells government departments to pay up

Newly elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa, delivered his State of the Nation (SONA) speech, which mentioned that government departments had an obligation to pay their bills in a timely manner.

This sentiment was echoed in the Budget Speech delivered by then Finance Minister, Malusi Gigaba, who said the Director-General of National Treasury would be issuing a directive to all government departments and public institutions, instructing them to pay suppliers on time, or be charged with financial misconduct.

“This must be monitored by accounting officers, and National Treasury will strengthen oversight mechanisms in the regard. We will work with colleagues in all spheres of government to improve performance of public entities on this critical issue,” said Gigaba.

Asata ceo, Otto de Vries, welcomed the announcement. “We are also encouraged by the comments of President Ramaphosa in his SONA address regarding government departments’ obligations to pay their bills for services rendered.”

But, the travel trade are not convinced that there will be any significant improvements when it comes to government paying suppliers on time.

A TMC who wished to remain anonymous, said generally the situation hadn’t changed much, despite promises in a similar vein being made by President Jacob Zuma many years ago. The TMC attributed the ongoing issues with slow payment to capacity and competency issues.

Government payment processes include superfluous steps, such as requiring travellers to sign off on travel invoices, even after requesting and obtaining approval for the travel request prior to this. Additionally, these invoices need to be physically collected after they are signed off and often the departments are located in remote areas and lack the resources to do so. There were many other problems, added the TMC, and aside from a few pockets of efficacy, for the most part, the system was “rotten”. 

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