Parliament’s Standing Committee on Appropriations has expressed concern at revelations that the payment of service providers by national departments was the main contributor to fruitless and wasteful expenditure.

This was on Friday revealed to the committee by the Office of the Auditor-General during a meeting.

The AG told the committee that some departments had consistently incurred fruitless and wasteful expenditure over the past five years.

“Out of 41 national departments, 21 of them incurred R1.52 billion in fruitless and wasteful expenditure during this time,” it said.

The Auditor-General during the meeting highlighted that the biggest contributors to this large sum are the Departments of Defence at R460.09 million, National Treasury at R339.47 million, Basic Education at R106.85 million and Tourism at R92.59 million.

Most of the wasteful expenditure occurred in procurement, payment and resource management. The Auditor-General said that 29 percent of national departments are in good financial health, 62 percent are cause for concern and nine percent require urgent intervention.

The committee was concerned that National Treasury is among the worst offenders. Committee Chairperson Sfiso Buthelezi said underspending denies people much-needed services and the worst affected of these are women and children.

The committee was also concerned about lack of consequence management at some departments, saying there is no deterrent, as people are suspended with full pay. The committee said departments should equip their staff with project and contract management skills, as they are critical for implementing service delivery.