Consideration and Discussion on Research Proposals for Committee International Travel & Consideration of Committee Reports, Minutes and Programme

Science and Technology

24 August 2010
Chairperson: Mr N Ngcobo (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Task Team set up to research proposals for Committee international travel reported back on their findings and suggested a visit to either Scandinavia or India to learn about their systems. The Task Team reported that the Scandinavian visit would give the Committee further insight into that country’s innovation system, while a visit to India would give it further insight into their space programme. Permission would be sought on whether the Committee could visit both countries.

Members discussed briefly whether all Members would be allowed to go on such a trip. It was noted that the only obstacle would be lack of funds. If there were not enough funds available, a formula would be applied in deciding the number of delegates from each party. Until the Committee secretary had made enquiries about costs, it would be assumed that the entire Committee was going on the trip.


Meeting report

Discussion on Research Proposals for Committee International Travel
The Chairperson asked the Task Team to report back on the progress made on the research for Committee international travel.

It was agreed that Ms M Shinn (DA) would report back as the leader of the task team, Mr M Nonkonyana (ANC) was not present.

Ms Shinn reported that the Task Team’s initial discussion had focused on an innovation system. It had found that the Scandinavians were the leaders in this type of system. South African wanted to be more in line with this system. Momentum needed to be added to research and development in order to establish what was applicable. It was suggested that the Committee should visit Sweden, then Finland and Denmark as a third choice. The Task Team also confirmed that it might be worthwhile visiting India to investigate that country’s space programme. The timeframe available to conduct these visits would be from end November to just before 16 December, but would be dependant on the priorities of the Committee. The Committee also needed to decide whether it would visit India or Scandinavia.

The Chairperson asked whether the Task Team had considered doing a round trip to both India and Scandinavia.

Mr P Smith (IFP) asked what timeframes the Committee had available as he believed Parliament restricted international travel. He also asked the Chairperson to consider that most Members of the Committee were relatively new and each one had their own narrow area of interest that they would like to pursue. He noted that the South African system of innovation leaned heavily on the Scandinavian model and believed that it would be appropriate to follow up with Scandinavia. If the Committee was allowed two weeks to travel, then the Chairperson’s suggestion of visiting both India and Scandinavia would be a good idea.

Ms Shanaaz, Isaacs, Committee Secretary, confirmed that in the past Parliament placed a time limit on International travel, but that recent travels by committees could go up to eight working days.

Ms Dunjwa asked whether the document from the Task Team had been circulated to Members and also asked the Chairperson to confirm who would go on this trip.

The Chairperson confirmed that the document was circulated the week before to all Members. He also confirmed that all Members were supposed to go on the trip as it was a requirement from Parliament that Members conduct international oversight at least once during their tenure.

Ms M Dunjwa (ANC) asked to whom questions or issues regarding the circulated document should be directed at.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Task Team was answerable and accountable to the Committee and any issues of clarification should be raised with them.

Mr Smith said that the Task Team had been set up to make recommendations for international travel and felt that they had completed this task. He asked the Chairperson to confirm whether they would need to submit a broad overview report or whether they had accomplished what they had set out to do, and should therefore be disbanded.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee Secretary would take the process forward.

Ms L Jacobus (ANC) asked that clarification be gained from the Committee Section on whether the whole Committee could go on the international trip.

The Chairperson confirmed that one of the roles of the Committee Members was to do oversight. The only obstacle would be lack of funds. If there were not enough funds available, a formula would be applied in deciding the number of delegates from each party. Until the Committee secretary had made enquiries about costs, it would be assumed that the entire Committee was going on the trip.

Ms Shinn asked whether the Committee should consider choosing between India and Scandinavia should the speaker not allow the round trip.

The Chairperson confirmed that he would prefer for the Committee to visit Scandinavia as he felt that more learning would take place during that visit.

Ms Dunjwa felt that it might be more appropriate to visit India.

The Chairperson confirmed that a visit to India would be good as the Committee would be able to learn about their grassroots technologies and innovations in terms of poverty. Another supporting factor would be that they were a G5 partner. However, Scandinavia was a pioneer as far as stamping out poverty was concerned. They also employed a mixed economy approach, which was always an ethos of the South African Government. Other aspects that could be adopted from their model was how they managed attitudes towards nuclear system, their medical and social security system, and good record-keeping. He therefore felt that the Committee would learn a lot more from them.

Committee Programme
The Committee discussed the Programme for Terms 3 and 4, and amended some dates for Term 3.

Ms Shinn asked the Committee Secretary to confirm the starting time of the Committee meetings.

The Committee secretary confirmed that the starting time for Committee meetings was 10:00 am.

The Chairperson confirmed that only five members of the Committee would be attending the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) conference. He asked that the opposition parties elect 2 members who would attend the conference.

A representative from the CSIR asked that the Committee send their final delegate list to her by Friday 27 August as it was urgent to confirm the delegate list.

Mr Smith raised the issue of the visit to Southern African Large Telescope (SALT), as it was not discussed.

The Chairperson asked that the visit be moved to October as there was not enough time during Term 3.

The Chairperson confirmed that the Committee Reports and Minutes would be noted down and would be formally adopted at the next Committee Meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.



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