The Gauteng provincial government paid Microsoft US$20.9-million, instead of R20.9-million, for software, costing the taxpayer millions of rand in exchange-rate losses, the Democratic Alliance has said.
In a statement on Tuesday, the DA’s Gauteng shadow MEC for finance and e-government, Adriana Randall, described the erroneous payment, to Microsoft’s regional head office in Ireland, as an “act of negligence” that ended up costing taxpayers R6.8-million.
“The provincial treasury erroneously processed an amount of $20 913 793.81 instead of the rand value of R20 913 793.81 as per e-government payment advice, for the cost of Microsoft fees. This resulted in a debit amount of R318.3-million from the e-government bank account,” Randall said.
After the payment was made, the provincial treasury was asked to recall the full amount of R318.3-million from Microsoft. The money was successfully recalled in February 2021, with an amount of R 311.5-million, resulting in a shortfall of R6.8-million because of the exchange rate.”
Randall said the money lost could have bought about 48 000 Johnson & Johnson vaccines.
The erroneous payment is now being probed, she said. “While the DA welcomes the investigation into this forex transaction, we believe that stronger action should have been taken and the official responsible for this should have been suspended immediately and the money recouped from the official.
“Consequence management is the only way in which errors like these will not happen and will send a strong message to any government official that is involved in negligence…”
The provincial government couldn’t immediately be reached for comment outside normal working hours. — (c) 2021 NewsCentral Media