The Committee met to consider and adopt its report on the Department of Science and Technology’s budget and strategic plan for 2010/2011. Members felt that they needed more training on corporate strategy and oversight. The report was adopted with amendments
Committee Report on Department of Science and Technology budget and strategic plan 2010/2011
The Chairperson tabled the report for comments and amendments
Mr P Smith (IFP) addressed two issues. Firstly, he noted that the report indicated that only one meeting took place with the Department, when this was not the case. Secondly, he asked if it was standard procedure for the Committee to make recommendations to the House.
Ms M Shinn (DA) clarified that only one meeting on the budget hearings had taken place. This was not sufficient because more input was required from the Department. In future, the Committee should arrange a two-day workshop with the Department before the budget report was adopted.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had a right to oversee parliamentary Estimates for National Expenditure (ENE), cabinet oversight, bi-monthly reports and to make recommendations. The Committee had many tools to oversee the process, and those included workshops of how the Department could be monitored right up to the annual report. It would be useful to have the workshop on corporate strategy and oversight conducted in June 2010.
Ms Shanaaz Isaacs, Committee Secretary, asked if Members wanted their comments noted in the report or if they wanted it mentioned in the Minutes for the next meeting.
The Members agreed that their comments should be included in the minutes rather than in the report.
Members made changes and thereafter adopted the report.
Discussion on Second-Term Committee Programme
The Chairperson invited Members to give their input on the Committees’ draft programme for the second-term.
Mr Smith felt that the programme had placed too much emphasis on oversight visits. Also, he preferred if the agenda was long-term rather than short-term as was the case.
The Chairperson reminded Members that a 5 year plan had been instituted and perhaps Mr Smith was not present at the meeting when it was tabled.
Mr Smith stated said he was present at the meeting and was under the impression that the plan that was tabled was a draft plan and not the final 5 year Committee plan. Nevertheless, he agreed with the “plan” but said he had some concerns about certain areas and suggested that a more detailed 5year plan be provided.
The Chairperson advised Mr Smith to refer back to his archives because all the issues in the draft had been derived from the overall 5 year plan as was a prerequisite from Parliament.
Ms Shinn thanked the Committee researchers for a job well done. She said she would like to see more focus on global change, nano technology, space programme and academic development initiatives that could produce more scientists. One of the divisions at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) in Pretoria had requested to meet with the Committee.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to look into the issue of oversights.
Member’s discussed dates when oversight visits could possibly take place.
The Chairperson suggested that oversight visits be made to the Eastern Cape, Pretoria and KwaZulu Natal. He also proposed an international study tour, noting however that this was subject to a favourable parliamentary schedule. Other countries whose systems could be emulated by South Africa included Mexico, Brazil and China.
Ms M Shinn asked if Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) could share with the Committee the experience of her visit to South/North Korea.
Ms Dunjwa said she was impressed by certain aspects during her trip and those included the Korean attitude towards climate change, its effects on daily lives, the development of scientist from a young age and their admirable space programme.
The Chairperson also shared his experience of visiting Denmark which he described as very advanced in its renewable energy initiatives. He went on to explain the country’s usage of wind Farms, wave energy and stable economy. Also noted was Sweden’s advanced Nuclear Waste Management programme and Fuel Cells. A lot could be learnt from countries such as Brazil and Japan for their technological advancements and innovations.
Mr Smith advised that South Africa should look to countries similar to itself for guidelines. He used Tunisia as an example, saying its advancement in Science and Technology and its high caliber of Education in comparison to South Africa could be used as a case study. Australia although similar to South Africa in size, was far more advanced in Patents. He suggested that a sub-committee be formed from the Committee which would give an input as to what those countries were doing differently which made them prosper.
Ms Dunjwa supported the formation of the sub-committee and suggested that joint programmes with other Committee’s like Health be formed.
The Chairperson agreed that the Committee needed to have joint sittings with other Committees and said that they were already joined with Health, Agriculture and Energy.
Ms Dunjwa suggested that an international and local sub-committee be formed.
Members agreed to form the sub-committee to research the matter in order for the Committee to then give oversight. The sub-committee would be made up of four members and the Committee researcher.
It was agreed that the sub-committee would give recommendations before the end of the term.
The meeting was adjourned.
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