MINISTER MEYER WELCOMES SCA FINDINGS IN FAVOUR OF WESTERN CAPE AGRICULTURECasidra
I welcome the news that the Supreme Court of Appeal(SCA) yesterday handed down judgement in favour of the Western Cape Department of Agriculture regarding the Auditor-General’s appeal against the Western Cape High Court ruling in favour of the Department.
The SCA judgement confirms the earlier decision handed down by the Western Cape Division of the High Court to set aside the Auditor General’s qualified audit reports on the Western Cape Department of Agriculture for the financial years ending 31 March 2017 and 31 March 2018.
The Department had sought the intervention of the High Court after various failed attempts to resolve its dispute with the Auditor-General regarding their qualification of the Department’s accounting treatment of transfer payments and the Auditor-General’s view on the principal-agent principle for the two financial years.
The Court has ruled in favour of the Department in respect of both financial cycles.
The SCA found that the Auditor-General did indeed commit an error in law in its interpretation and application of the applicable accounting standards in its audit of the Department’s financial statements for the financial cycles ending March 2017 and March 2018.
As highlighted during the court proceedings, the Department and the Minister of Agriculture were rightly concerned by the qualification of the Department’s audit reports and the Auditor General’s application of the relevant accounting standards.
It is for this reason the difficult decision was taken to approach the courts.
Today that decision has been vindicated.
The Department now expects that the AGSA will rework the affected audit reports and re-issue them in line with the SCA’s findings. The Department will further engage the AGSA regarding subsequent audit cycles where it relied on a similar incorrect application of the applicable accounting standards to make its findings. The Department trusts that rational sense will prevail.
It also prides me to again say with confidence and the judiciary’s support that the Western Cape Department of Agriculture has an excellent financial governance record.
I also wish to repeat my earlier sentiments that this case has always been about restoring the Department’s governance record. Accordingly, it should in no way be seen to reflect poorly on the Department’s relationship with the AGSA, which, as the SCA confirmed, fulfils a critical role in protecting our country’s democratic order.