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SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 November 2001
BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT ON FINANCING POLICY
Documents handed out:
Chairperson: Mr E Saloojee
The MINMEC Task Team presented the review on Financing Policy of the Department of Social Development. The review discussed improving infrastructure and the location of service centres and service points while focusing on rural areas and informal settlements. The report further recommended that service centres should be equipped and facilities for target groups in rural areas and under-serviced urban areas be upgraded or established.
The report stated that monitoring and evaluation should be an integral part of programmes. The implementation plan discussed the setting up of institutional arrangements and provision for procedure manuals for officials, NGOs and Community Based Organisations.
Briefing by Ms Angela Bester, Director- General of Department of Social Development
Ms Bester said commended the Committee on their efforts on financing policy. Government took the view that finance policy was a very important strategic policy decision which called for careful review of the current systems and planning. A MINMEC committee was set up to review Financing Policy in February 2001. The review was motivated by concerns raised by internal and external stakeholders, including the portfolio committee, regarding the lack of a clear coherent finance policy. The other motivating factor, she noted, was MINMEC’s observations about the protracted process of implementation and confusion with regard to finance policy.
Ms Bester informed the Committee that the MINMEC’s Task Team comprised of MECS of the Free State (the convenor), Northern Province, Mpumalanga and the Eastern Cape.
The aim of the Task Team was to identify problems with content and implementation of Financing Policy. The review process was mandated to review documents and reports of evaluative nature and review progress reports from the provinces to the National Transformation Management Team.
The MINMEC team made the directive that pending its report, all activities relating to implementation should cease immediately. The team submitted its report in May 2001.
Findings of Review: Content Issues
The Task Team reported in their findings the vision of the Financing Policy fragments services into children, youth, women and older persons.The framework for developing welfare services is based on the framework for Transformation of Child & Youth Care System that is inappropriate as the latter derives from the youth conflict with the law.
The Team noted that the policy shift to integrated service delivery is contradicted by age specialisation and that categorisation of financing options is not clear due to overlaps, too many meaning similar things such as grant financing and project financing.
Findings of Review: Operational
The Team reported that transformation Management teams at national and provincial levels were running processes independent of HODs. It was also reported that membership of task teams was based on personal allegiances rather than suitability for the task.
Task teams are not intersectional hence perpetuating lack of integration and that lack of strategic leadership and vision to translate goals to action was evident.
The report noted a shifting of goal posts and the absence of clear deliverables linked to timeframes and that there was no clear and coherent system to manage implementation process. This, the report said led to several pilot projects being implemented without co-ordination and that monitoring was based on reports from provinces without verification on the ground.
Implementation was bogged down by complex administrative systems/tools suitable for traditional welfare organisations instead of emerging CBOs. There was complex management and implementation centred on funding and protecting traditional NGOs rather than needs and priorities of service delivery.
It was also noted that there was failure on the part of the national departments to ensure broad consultation on policy prior to implementation and that resource implications and costing were not dealt with adequately.
There was a lack of shared understanding about policy and commitment to strategic issues. This led to the subjectivity of transformation plans and hence a failure of Transformation Task Teams to report to MINMEC, the Minister, MECs Department Management and stakeholders.
The DG said that the report makes some specific recommendation and points to areas of action for improvement. She said that the Team noted that overall the policy has good intentions but that it lacks direction to advance implementation.
It was recommended that implementation of policy should be held in abeyance until a detailed review is done but that funding should be continued on current basis whilst preserving principles of policy.
The DG said that amongst other things the report’s key recommendations include a detailed review and revision in legislation/regulation to be developed to enforce policy and that costing of policy should consider financial implications for government and partners.
It is also recommended that basket of services should be done with the assistance of experts and that treasury should be sensitised to provide short-term injection of funds. Other recommendations in this area are that norms and standards be developed for service delivery and that proper linkages should be established between policy and other programmes.
The DG added that recommendation were made to the effect that temporary measures be taken to address access to service in rural areas. She said that areas of attention include support for the NGOs working in nodal points of ISRDS and that service delivery in poverty pockets should be prioritised.
Other temporary measures according to the report are that funds be redirected from administration to direct service delivery and that the National Development Agency gives support to CBOs and NGOs with development focus. It advocates for active guidance to traditional NGOs in transformation.
The DG notified the Committee that the State President had just signed a declaration transferring the NDA from the treasury to Social Development.
Outputs of Review
On the human resource issue, the DG said that the HRD strategy for the sector should be finalised and that the curriculum for social service professionals would be revised. She added that an effort would be made to review and revise service conditions of social service professionals to address issues of low morale and low retention.
On infrastructure, should be directed on location of service centres and service points while focusing on rural areas and informal settlements. She added that service centres would be equipped and facilities for target groups in rural areas and under-serviced urban areas would be upgraded or established.
On financial issues, the DG said that norms and standards would inform costing of services and that options for financing services provided by NGOs and CBOs would be simplified.
The DG pointed out that the output of the report also underpins monitoring and evaluation which must be an integral part of programmes and not an afterthought. She added that institutional arrangements would be set out and that there would be procedure manuals for officials, NGOs and CBOs.
She said that training and communication programmes in new approaches for all role players would be on going and that there would be consultation for all stakeholders. Her office has been specifically mandated to drive the process in conjunction with the task team of national, provincial officials and ad hoc experts.
She noted that progress in this regard would be reported to the MINMEC through the heads of Social Development and that issues in this respect would be a standing item on MINMEC agenda.
Issues and Challenges
Finally, the DG informed the Committee that there are issues and challenges that need to be pointed out. She said that the scope of the projects would require dedicated financial and human resources and that there was the challenge on how to draw in existing initiatives without slowing down their progress.
The other challenge, she said, was that of sequencing the various elements of the projects and developing a sensible interim funding policy for NGOs and CBOs.
The Chair asked if there were constitutional and operational implications in transferring the NDA to Social Development.
Ms Bester replied that a ministerial advisory team would be set up to look into the operation of the NDA with a view to positioning it accordingly within the Department.
The Chair asked from which source(s) the Department derived its funds.
Ms Bester replied that the Department is funded from various sources among them donors, the NDA and a direct budgetary vote.
Ms Ramotsamai (ANC) said that concern has been expressed in the past that the provinces are not applying the 80:20 ratio in funding projects. She urged for a deliberate policy to force provinces to spend more money on social services.
Ms Bester acknowledged that this was a particularly difficult area but clarified that there were statutory obligations around social security and child grant which provinces adhered to. She said that the Minister is investing a great deal of effort to empower civil society to get involved in the process.
Ms Ghanzi (ANC) asked how the Department supervises service providers and if it has the correct data on their location and concentration. Does the Department employs collaborative resources.
Ms Bester said that the Department has ear marked the process of registering all service providers starting next financial year. It was part of the Department’s responsibility to audit all administrative systems for service providers. The audit aims at monitoring what exactly the registered organisations were doing on the ground.
The Chair said that the Department should reinforce its capacity by seeking collaboration with National Councils.
Ms Bester informed the Chair that when she refers to National Councils she means organisations that are funded by the National Government.
The Chair said that although the responsibility lies with the government, it has an acute situation given that there were no visible community participation in areas of service. He lamented that only government delivery was on hand.
Dr. Baloyi (ANC) sought clarity as to what the phrases; ‘external stakeholders’, ‘other partners’ and ‘a spectrum of role players’ referred to.
Ms Bester replied that the phrases refer to other stakeholders in poverty alleviation programmes apart from government.
Mr. Solo (ANC) lamented that the whole question of empowering civil society was critical yet the infrastructure for implementing this measure was almost non-existent. Does the Department have a strategy for intervening in areas attended with perennial problems.
Ms Bester replied that the Department’s relief programmes support CBOs in deep rural provinces but these efforts do not necessarily cover the kind of demand there is for this service.
The Chair said there were agricultural extension officers whose brief it is to advise farmers on the best farming methods. These officers should be able to offer service providers appropriate guidance. He asked the DG to take note of this need.
Ms Bester said that the task team took a review of the current policy and advised on what areas should be improved upon. Measures have already been taken to map out pension pay-points for starters. The Minister had identified this as an area of priority.
Ms Mars (IFP) asked whether doubling of resources to poverty relief programmes would follow the incorporation of the NDA into Social Development.
Ms Angela clarified that the Department is not taking over the NDA. The NDA approach is being reviewed to see how to link it into rural development strategy by directing support at various levels.
The Chair asked if it is possible to provide the Committee with the list of these development projects to enable members of the Committee to visit them at constituencies’ level.
Ms Bester said that the list would be made available as requested.
The meeting was adjourned.