GARDEN ROUTE NEWS - Knysna and Bitou municipalities have been handed an unqualified audit opinion by the Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA), which while not a clean audit, is still a positive outcome.
In a statement issued by provincial environmental affairs minister Anton Bredell, the AG's findings show a positive outcome for the province.
"Overall we are pleased to note that 25 out of 30 municipalities in the province received unqualified audit opinions," Bredell said.
"Of those 25, a total of 12 councils also achieved the clean audit status. We have come a long way if one recalls that in 2009 there were no clean audits in the province."
Bredell admitted that councils are increasingly struggling with severe ongoing financial constraints due to the country's economic challenges. "Despite this situation, we note that the AGSA found not a single council in the province owed Eskom a cent for the period under review," Bredell explained. Our local municipalities (Bitou and Knysna), as well as the Garden Route District Municipality, all received an unqualified audit opinion from the AGSA, along with 10 others in the province.
In short, an unqualified audit opinion means that the financial statements "contain no material misstatements". Findings may have been made on either reporting on predetermined objectives or noncompliance with legislation, or both these aspects.
According to Bitou CFO Vincent Mkhefa, Bitou has obtained an unqualified audit with matters of emphasis for the past two financial years (2016/2017, 2017/2018), while Knysna Municipality CFO Mbulelo Memani confirmed that this was Knysna's sixth consecutive unqualified audit opinion, saying that "compared to previous financial years Knysna Municipality had a regressed audit finding".
Mkhefa admitted that it doesn't indicate positive growth for the municipality. "This clearly means the Bitou Municipality has regressed and it remains the council and management objective to achieve that goal of a clean audit," Mkhefa said. "The matters of emphasis mainly focus on noncompliance to supply chain management regulations and this resulted in irregular expenditure of R16-million." Mkhefa also pointed out that Bitou's management is hard at work to remedy the issue. "The management have put measures in place to improve on the internal control mechanisms and we hope that with continued monitoring we will soon achieve a clean audit."
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