Sat, 21 Sep 2019

The government owes businesses over R7.1bn in unpaid invoices older than 30 days, with Gauteng leading the pack.

This is according to Dr Leon Schreiber, the DA's spokesperson on finance, following a series of responses to parliamentary questions over the past few weeks.

He said in a statement on Sunday that national government owes businesses R634m.

The single biggest offender is the Department of Water and Sanitation at R492m.This is followed by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries owing R99m andThe Police department owing R24m.

Provincial governments owe businesses an additional R6.5bn.

Gauteng failed to pay for services to the tune of R2.6bn and the Eastern Cape R2.1bn.

"The ANC is crippling South African businesses through its failure to pay for services on time," said Schreiber, adding that the state seems to have no problem paying billions to public servants illegally doing business with the state.

He pointed out that National Treasury's 2018 Public Procurement Review found that 2 704 state employees conducted business with national and provincial departments between 1 April 2017 and 31 January 2018.

"The ANC spent R8.1bn of public funds to pay these public servants who illegally conducted business with the state. Despite this being in direct contravention of the 2014 Public Administration Management Act, the Minister of Public Service and Administration revealed in response to a parliamentary question that not a single public service employee has been held accountable or fired for doing business with the state," said Schreiber.

Minister of Small Business Development Khumbudzo Ntshavheni told Members of Parliament through a written reply to questions that her department was working on a database for SMMEs that would be linked to the Central Supplier Database of the National Treasury, reported Fin24.

She said when the systems are integrated, the Department will be able to know the amount owed to these businesses.

In her reply, Ntshaveni cited National Treasury data, but said the data did not differentiate between large and small-to-medium enterprises in its report on non-compliance with payment of suppliers.

"According to the National Treasury 2018-19 annual report, the total rand value of invoices older than 30 days and not paid by national departments at the end of the 2018-19 financial year amounted to R634m," she said.

According to the latest available report by the Department of Small Business Development, released in September 2017, a total of 71 883 invoices to the value of R4.3bn were unpaid by government departments and were older than 30 days. Over 23 000 invoices were paid late by provincial government departments in 2016, totalling more than R2bn, Fin24 previously reported.

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