The Portfolio Committee of Higher Education are now concerned about the delays being presented in finalising the audit of the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS). The Auditor-General briefed the Portfolio Committee on on the outcomes of the audit.
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee, Philly Mapulane, said that it's disappointing that now for the second year in a row, the audit has been delayed. On why the delay is happening, Mapulane said:
When we met with the Auditor-General on Wednesday, the reasons that she gave us for the delay in finalising the audit of the financial statements are the unnecessary delays experienced by NSFAS in supplying the necessary information that is required to finalise the audit by the Auditor-General.
Last year's delay was due to the inefficiencies in NSFAS and their failure to provide the required information, said Mapulane. The Committee is concerned as this is happening during the administration of NSFAS.
NSFAS was placed under Administration as Dr Randall Carolissen was appointed as the Administrator in August 2018. He has now been with NSFAS for over two years.
"All these inefficiencies seem to continue. The situation seem to be deteriorating at NSFAS and this is what disappoints us as the Portfolio Committee and therefore we have requested the Auditor-General to expadite the auditing process and to get it completed before the end of this month."
This delay will not effect students or stakeholders but according to Mapulane it will impact on the ability of the entity to account. NSFAS receives funding from the public and this audit will account for what has been happening with NSFAS' finances.
This audit also helps Government see whether the R35 billion allocated to NSFAS is spent correctly and in line with the law.
In the recent period, we have been receiving lots of complaints about maladministration at NSFAS. We have received a comprehensive submission from NEHAWU. We've had one meeting with NSFAS and NEHAWU. We're having a follow up meeting this morning with NSFAS because the explanations we received were insufficient.
Some of the complaints are at the heart of the good corporate governance, proper administration and proper conduct by the leadership of NSFAS, explained Mapulane.
The Chairperson continued to say, "We are worried. When you look at the non-submission of the financial statements and the audit, necessary information to finalise the audit, against what the Committee has receiving in the recent past, it makes us even more worried about what is happening in this important entity".
Mapulane says that they were told that the turnaround time to receive information is terrible which has now lead to them to call on the Administration at NSFAS to "please pull up your socks and make sure that this audit is completed".
The Administrator came there to turn around the fortunes of NSFAS and it cannot deteriorate in his hands so that's why we are calling on him to, with this important institution that is at the heart of the future of our young people who are at Universities from working class backgrounds, please salvage and make sure it's protected.
The Minister in charge of Higher Education, Blade Nzimande, along with the Deputy Minister, Buti Manamela, have previously shown their support for the Administrator and the work he's done.
Nzimande said of Carolissen, "On my side, I want to put it on record that I think he has done a sea change in terms of what NSFAS was and some of the challenges of the organisation". Manamela too has previously said, "As far as we’re concerned, NSFAS has stabilised over the last two years ... There has not been a substantiation of the allegations of corruption and maladministration."