The Gauteng Department of Health for the last financial year has received 34 856 duplicate invoices, clearing indicating that measures to prevent this are failing.
This information was revealed to me in a written reply to my questions tabled in the Gauteng Provincial Legislature (GPL) to the MEC for Health, Nomathemba Mokgethi regarding duplicate invoices received from suppliers. The total rand value of the duplicate invoices amounted to R24 256 537 105,09, for the period 1 April 2021 to 31 March 2022.
According to the MEC, the duplication of invoices arises when a Supplier/Service Provider uploads the same invoice more than once on the EIS (Electronic Invoice Submission (EIS) — a system developed by the Gauteng Provincial Government to facilitate the paperless submission of invoices from suppliers. Whilst the suppliers use an Electronic Invoice Submission (EIS) system, a 3-way financial check is done once the invoice has been submitted, however, with the high number of duplicates it would appear as if this system is not being strictly adhered to.
It is deeply concerning that the MEC puts all the blame for duplicate invoices on the suppliers which highlights the inadequate training given to suppliers about the uploading of invoices. There is also a need to refine the system as a matter of urgency to prevent invoices from being uploaded more than once, and the possibility of suppliers using this loophole in the system to defraud the state of taxpayers’ money.
The department in collaboration with the Gauteng Provincial Treasury needs to put in place proper checks and balances to stop the uploading of duplicate invoices as it can potentially result in serious financial losses for the department.
Other departments like Social Development and Education, which has responded to similar questions, have indicated that they did not receive any duplicate invoices from suppliers who use the same system to upload their invoices to the departments for payment.
The DA is demanding that the Department of Health must learn from its counterparts in terms of best practices, so that duplicate invoices can be avoided in future. If this is not done, it might mean that this system is open to fraud and possible corruption.