Tight ship pays dividends

Cindy Preller

HE is often the bad guy that has to say "no" to his colleagues.

But his stern hand on the coffers of the Mandela Bay Development Agency (MBDA) has paid off for chief financial officer Ashwin Daya with the clean audit the agency recently received for the financial year ending in June 2013.

This sought-after financial performance accolade from the auditor-general (AG), follows eight years of unqualified reports for the MBDA since its inception. "It is basically a clean bill of health. The clean audit is the result of a combination of our management systems and the dedication and commitment of our people. Audits in the public sector are highly regulated and compliance-driven. The auditors spent about eight weeks at our offices. We would like to maintain this high standard of work this year," Daya said.

This financial whizz previously worked in the motor industry – at Ford, Volkswagen and Comau – before joining the MBDA when it was still in its infancy 10 years ago. He said it was critical for a special-purpose municipal entity such as the MBDA to have a good combination of private sector and public sector principles.

"We are modelled on the Johannesburg Development Agency and our core objective is the implementation of urban renewal projects. The city drives us, but it is important to stay focused, within a budget when doing so." The municipality is the MBDA's primary funder and Daya said it had made more than R500-million available over the past nine financial years.

He said the small team of 25 employees were cost conscious and made sure to comply with supply chain management, which was complemented by the visionary and hands-on approach of chief executive Pierre Voges.

Voges attributed the clean audit to a good mix of experience, talent, youth, hands-on management and attention to detail. "We understand the environment we work in. Being part of local government in a highly regulated environment makes it tough to work without contravening some rule, so achieving a clean audit was, therefore, no easy task and the team focused on getting the basics right with honesty and integrity."