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13th Annual Conference of the Association of Public Accounts Committee Speech

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape on the occasion of the 13th Annual Conference of the Association of Public Accounts Committee (APAC), on 04 September 2011, Tabernacle Church.
We are indeed delighted as the Northern Cape Provincial Government to host this milestone 13th Annual Conference of the Association of Public Accounts Committee, as public accountability is becoming increasingly important as better informed citizens demand accountability for government decision making, and more accessible, user-friendly public services.

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Let me also take this opportunity to welcome you all to our beloved and beautiful Capital City of Kimberley.

Indeed, the Association Public Accounts has a critical and enviable role to play to hold all spheres of government accountable in the spending of public funds while ensuring that it delivers quality services to all our people, especially at a local government level which is at the coalface of service delivery.

As such, our government remains committed to serving all our people and ensuring that we improve the quality of their lives. It is thus the responsibility of government, to turn the hopes and aspirations of citizens into sustained service delivery that enriches all our citizens’ lives on a financially sustainable basis.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we must continue to work relentlessly to ensure that we create a favourable environment that encourages sound principles of financial accountability which forms the cornerstone of our democratic government. There is therefore a crucial need to inculcate a sense of responsibility at all levels of the public service, especially in our senior management so that we begin to turn the situation around if we want to attain a clean audit in all spheres of government by 2014.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we all know that the intention underpinning the work of APAC is to provide clear direction to assist and enhance executive accountability and oversight responsibilities at the three spheres of government.

The theme of your conference ”Enhancing Service Delivery through Application of Mechanisms that Strengthen Oversight and Accountability” instruct us to promote a culture of high performance and public accountability by upholding accountable and transparent governance.

Indeed, the theme of the conference is important as it provides us with an ideal opportunity to engage in frank discussion and robust debates. It further provides us with a constructive opportunity to engage one another, to share ideas and discuss the challenges encountered in your work situation with a view to finding innovative ways to address the needs of our communities.

There is no doubt in my mind that APAC plays a vital and relevant role in improving public sector governance and accountability at all three spheres of government. Therefore APAC is most appropriates structure to deal with financial and related management aspects of public institutions.

It is thus incumbent upon all of us that are gathered here today to assess the extent of how far we have come as public institutions and other stakeholders to strengthen accountability and transparency.

Such an exercise will also assist government to uproot all activities of corruption which denies ordinary South Africans the right to basic services.

Public Accounts Committees (PACs) have a great responsibility in ensuring the accountability of the executive; and must contribute to the fulfilment of our legislature’s mandate of overseeing executive actions, with special focus on financial management and administration.

We further concur with the views of the Deputy President of South Africa Mr Kgalema Motlanthe, that Public Accounts Committees (PACs), apart from reacting to bad management and corruption, should also assist in ensuring that financial affairs of public entities are managed properly and where problem areas within public entities are identified, PACs should also propose corrective action and changes where required.

Mr Speaker, a review of the performance of all local governments has highlighted the issue of poor control systems and weak accountability mechanisms. To that end, the legislation governing the local government spheres creates a favourable environment for the creation of a local government structure /s that can adequately deal with local government fiscal accountability in an approach similar to that of the provincial and National Standing Committee on Public Accounts Committee (SCOPA). Therefore the Municipal Accounts Committee (MPAC) becomes an appropriate Municipal structure to deal with financial and related management aspects of municipalities.

For the South African public sector, there are some new initiatives being taken to improve public administration and more needs to be done to improve the implementation of new policy measures and get a stronger focus on the performance of government programmes, particularly on their impact.

The returns can be significant in providing greater transparency in government operations, and in allowing better targeting of programs by government and improving administrative efficiency and public accountability. This is indeed in the very best interests of good government.

We are confident that you will, in an objective and meaningful manner, discuss government’s performance in delivering efficient and effective services to all our people.

Programme Director, it is my deepest hope and belief that all relevant stakeholders present here today will productively utilise their time to ensure that by the end of the conference, we are ready to implement efficient and effective mechanisms to strengthen oversight and accountability.

We will continue to harness our collective efforts in order to realize a responsive, accountable, effective and efficient government system.

Our constituents deserve the very best in terms of individual and collective accountability. In furtherance of the common and greater good, we have no option but to conduct our affairs with integrity, probity and ethical conduct of the highest order. To this end I am confident that the deliberations of this Conference will assist all spheres of government to achieve clean audits by 2014. The choice has been made and we will collectively strive to ensure that this is achieved. I wish you successful and meaningful deliberations.

I thank you


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