The Public Service Commission (PSC) said that the failures by national and provincial government departments to pay suppliers had wrought “untold damage” to the economy, leading to the collapse of businesses.
The commission monitors government’s adherence with constitutional values governing public administration.
In its recent report on the state of the public service between April and June this year, the PSC found that billions of rand provisioned for in budgets were owed to suppliers.
The report by the Public Service Commission showed that the Water and Sanitation Department was the worst offender among all government departments, with R1.2 billion owed to suppliers in June.
The Gauteng province had not paid over 20,000 invoices amounting to R1.6 billion in the same period, a slight improvement from a whopping R2.6 billion it owed in April.
The Public Service Commission’s Michael Seloane said corruption, incompetence and a lack of consequence management were just some of the reasons the non-payment of suppliers remained a non-priority.
“Service providers are not paid because there is poor management and in order to deal with poor management, there must be consequences. One of the development plans is about promoting medium-sized enterprises, so there’s no way government can back down from that priority,” he said.
Not only had these failures wiped out much-needed jobs in the labour market, which has a 29% unemployment rate, but it had an impact on service delivery too.
The PSC said that many suppliers had resorted to withholding their services from government, while others simply stopped doing business with the state altogether for fear of financial ruin.
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