Stolen paperwork earns consumer watchdog qualified audit

Stolen paperwork is among the reasons South Africa’s consumer watchdog received a qualified audit report for last year.

According to the Auditor-General (AG), the basis for his issuing such an opinion on the finances of the National Consumer Commission (NCC) include that he was “unable to obtain sufficient appropriate audit evidence for irregular expenditure, as supporting information was stolen from the premises”.

The irregular spending is stated at R15.6 million.

Among the AG’s other findings is that the NCC failed to achieve 13 of its 16 planned targets.

In a foreword to its 2012/13 annual report, which contains the AG’s audit opinion, NCC commissioner Ebrahim Mohamed said the qualification was “unavoidable due to historical reasons”.

He said a theft of supply chain documents had occurred shortly after his appointment, “and at a time when an ‘as is’ audit was being conducted at my request”.

Mohamed was appointed in an acting capacity in September last year, after a decision not to renew former commissioner Mamodupi Mohlala-Molaudzi’s contract.

His appointment as full-time commissioner was announced by Cabinet in May this year. The NCC is an agency of the department of trade and industry.

In a statement today, the Democratic Alliance said the AG’s findings were “an unacceptable regression” for the NCC.

“The DA is disappointed that the NCC has not been able to affect a turnaround and is, in fact, still in intensive care,” DA MP Geordin Hill-Lewis said in a statement.

The NCC should be playing a vital role in protecting consumer rights.

“It cannot begin to do this job properly as long as it is not achieving even its most basic performance requirements,” he said.

The 2012/13 annual report covers the 12 months from April 1, 2012, to March 31 this year.

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