CAPE TOWN-- Member of Parliament Vincent Smith says a Parliamentary committee tasked with overseeing the office of the Auditor-General has approved an amendment to legislation which will give the AG's office more teeth.

As Auditor-General Kimi Makwetu released the audit outcomes for municipalities for the financial year 2016/17 here Wednesday, Smith said the committee approved amendments to the Public Audit Act on Tuesday for submission to the National Assembly, where if passed, would be referred to the President for enactment. The aim is to ensure that the amendment is approved by Parliament before the end of its current term of office.

I can report today that yesterday, the committee approved the amendments to the Public Audit Act, he said.

The announcement comes amidst concerns over the years that the Office of the Auditor-General lacks the powers to take matters further than his audits.

The amendments, once finalised by Parliament and signed off by the President, will give the Office of the Auditor-General powers to refer material irregularities to law enforcement agencies and appropriate authorities for investigation.

This will include any non-compliance with legislation, fraud or theft, or a breach of fiduciary duties that causes or is likely to cause a material financial loss, the misuse or loss of a material public resource. The amendments will also give the Office of the Auditor-General the powers to issue a directive to recover any money that is lost as a result of the irregularities.

We are also giving the Auditor-General the authority to issue a certificate of debt against the accounting authority, he said.