OBP orderd to improve after unqualified audit

By Francis Hweshe

Cape Town – MPs have warned the Onderstepoort Biological Products Company (OBP) to get its house in order after the company received a qualified report from the Auditor-General (AG).

The company falls under the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries and is tasked with the prevention and control of animal diseases which impact on food security, human health and the livelihood in the country.

OBP, along with several others under the department, presented its annual report to Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Agriculture on Tuesday.

MPs raised concern at the organisation’s bad report from the AG, saying they wanted to see an improvement.

OBP’s internal audit, procurement, expenditure, internal control and governance reports were qualified.

ANC MP Salam Abram said these were “serious matters” and OBP should provide a detailed report on how they were turning around the situation.

The OBP delegation, led by Acting Chief Executive Theresa Smit, said they were busy addressing issues identified by the AG. Smit told the house that the organisation had enough vaccines to meet the country’s needs in the event of an outbreak of animal disease.

She said the current R75 million earmarked for the upgrade of equipment was not enough, as they needed about R200 million over three years for that purpose.

In a related matter, MPs said the National Agricultural Marketing Council (NAMC) should put more effort into marketing South African agricultural products abroad.

The company, which received a clean audit from the AG, responded by saying the current worldwide credit crunch had affected its overseas markets.

NAMC chairperson Ntombi Msimang said the world was not buying key products such as wine and fruit. “What is hitting us in SA is hitting our [overseas] markets,” she explained.

The Agricultural Research Council and Ncera Farms (Pty) Ltd Company were also set to make their presentations.

The MPs seemed to be more impressed with the unqualified report of Perishable Products Export Control Board, as they urged the company delegation to keep up its good work. – BuaNews