Office of the Chief Justice receives an unqualified audit outcome

July 1st, 2017
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By Kgomotso Ramotsho

Justice Minister, Michael Masutha, commended the Office of the Chief Justice (OCJ) for the unqualified audit outcome. Minister Masutha was addressing the National Assembly, in Cape Town at the occasion of the budget debate on 17 May. In a press release, Mr Masutha said that there was no overspending from the OCJ.

Mr Masutha pointed out that the expenditure of the OCJ for the 2016/17 budget at the end of the financial year stood at 98%. He said that it was commendable to note that the department had an unqualified audit outcome on financial statements in the maiden year of operating the budget vote. Mr Masutha added that over the three year Medium Term Expenditure Framework period, the OCJ had been allocated a total budget of R 6,32 billion.

Mr Masutha noted that for the 2017/2018 financial year the allocated budget amounted to R 1,984 billion. He added that of the amount allocated to the OCJ R 966,06 million is allocated to judges’ remuneration and benefits. ‘This means that the OCJ will have an operating budget of R 1,018 billion,’ Mr Masutha said. He pointed out that of the total budget, of R 737,47 million, which represents 77,3% of the budget, is allocated to judicial support and court administration.

Mr Masutha said the bulk of the budget is allocated to judicial support and court administration as it forms part of the key mandate of the OCJ. He noted that the funds will be utilised to improve the court system through an effective and efficient case-flow management system of the OCJ Provincial Centres, which will provide administrative support to the superior courts. He added that the funds allocated for the judicial training of judicial officials has increased from R 30,2 million to R 49 million in the 2017/18 period.

Mr Masutha said the Justice Department recognised that education and training of judicial officers is necessary to promote and uphold the independence, impartiality, accessibility and effectiveness of the courts. ‘In this regard, the South African Judicial Education Institute located under the OCJ, continues to offer training courses to judicial officers,’ Mr Masutha said.

Mr Masutha noted that a total amount of R 154,94 million has been allocated to conduct about 246 judicial education courses over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework period. The budget for administration of the entire OCJ amounts to R 98,99 million, which constitutes 19,5% of the budget. He added that during the 2016/17 financial year, 90 judicial education courses, which include basic and advanced courses for newly appointed magistrates and aspirant judges, were offered to serving and aspiring judicial officers, which exceeded the set target of 70.

Mr Masutha said he acknowledged the tight fiscal environment within which the country currently operates and the difficult decisions that the National Treasury needs to make to divide the limited resources against competing priorities of the government. Mr Masutha pointed out that the OCJ is committed to ensure that the funds allocated in the budget will be utilised in an efficient and effective manner.

Kgomotso Ramotsho Cert Journ (Boston) Cert Photography (Vega) is the news reporter at De Rebus.

 This article was first published in De Rebus in 2017 (July) DR 8.

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