SC Appropriations:Third Quarter Expenditure Report: adoption

Standing Committee on Appropriations

24 May 2011
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered and adopted the Third Quarter Expenditure Report with amendments. Members focused on the key findings and recommendations in the report as they had dealt with the other section the previous day. The Committee expressed concern that departments failed to submit reports when requested to do so by Parliament. These reports were important and could shed light on the challenges faced by the Departments in executing their mandates. Another concern that was highlighted related to the slow pace of filling vacancy rates within the departments. The Committee also briefly touched on the progress for the proposed study tour to India.

Meeting report

The Chairperson mentioned that the meeting was a continuation of the previous day meeting; hence it would start at bullet point number 4, the findings.

Third Quarter Expenditure Report
4 Key findings
Mr Musa Zamisa, Researcher,
Parliamentary Research Unit, went through the findings in the report.
He mentioned that the report identified a number of challenges in relation to budget implementation and expenditure monitoring.

Members chirped in with comments, clarifications and questions while he was reading out the findings.

The Chairperson substituted the word “the” with some in findings 4.1

On 4.6, the Chairperson added that the Department of Women Children and People with disabilities was not only hindered by capacity problems. The Department assumed that it had to report to the Presidency since it was a new Department.

Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) suggested that finding 4.8 should be reworded because it sounded like a recommendation rather than a finding.

The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the departments mentioned in 4.9 were the only ones with high vacancy rate problems.

Mr Phelelani Dlomo, Researcher, Parliamentary Research Unit, clarified that the mentioned departments had attributed slow spending to high vacancy rates.

5 Recommendations
Mr M Swart (DA) enquired about the year that was referred to in 5.1-it was not clear which time period was being discussed.

Mr Zamisa explained that the report was referring to 2010/11 financial year.

Mr G Snell (ANC) voiced concern that departments would sometimes take too long time to submit documents that were requested by the Committees and in some cases they did not even bother to do so.

The Chairperson echoed this concern, complaining about the length of long time it took departments to forward reports that had been requested by parliamentary committees. He had expected departments to present their vacancy rates and the problems associated with filling those vacancies as the outlined in the State Of The Nation Address. Furthermore, he suggested that the recommendation (5.1) was applicable to all departments and not only the Department of Communications. The wording should therefore be changed to reflect this.

The Chairperson felt that 5.2 did not qualify as a recommendation since it had already been mentioned in 5.1.

The Chairperson enquired about clarity of 5.3, saying that the recommendation was not clear enough.

Mr Darrin Arrends, Committee Secretary, explained that the recommendation emanated from page 4, third paragraph, which talked about the six priority projects that had been identified for the 2011/12 financial year.

The Chairperson replied that there was no need to mention the list of priority projects.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) referred to 5.4 and said that all the Departments claimed to have FIFA 2010 Legacy Projects. In addition, she asked about the relationship between the 122 Emergency Call centres and the Legacy Project.

Mr Dlomo explained that the two items were not related, and would separate them so that it was clear that they were two separate issues.

Ms Mashigo replied that the 122 Call Centre Project was terminated by the former Director-General (DG) of Communications. The current DG was in the process of reviving the project because it had the potential of creating many jobs.

The Chairperson suggested the merging of recommendation 5.5 and 5.7 into one because they were referring to a similar problem in the same province.

On 5.7, Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) felt that the support staff should request the report that would show details of plan B concerning the De Hoop Dam.

Mr Dlomo agreed to ask for the Plan B report, which would shed light on the progress of the Dam.

The Chairperson said that the Secretary had already requested the report several times but to no avail.

Mr Snell expressed irritation that Parliament had powers to summon departments that were not willing to submit requested reports.

The Chairperson instructed the Secretary to write a strong worded letter and tell the Department of Water Affairs to submit a report within 14 days, failing which a summons would be issued to the Department.

On 5.9, the Chairperson mentioned that the Department of Public Works should help out the smaller municipalities financially since they did not have the funding.

After a brief discussion that ensued, the Committee agreed to delete bullet points 5.9 and 5.10.

On 5.13, the Chairperson explained that the Department of Women, Children and People  with Disabilities was newly created and was grappling with accommodation, staff and other problems related to the reporting lines. He felt that the Committee should give the Department a bit of a leeway till the next time they appeared before the Committee, even though a lot of money was spent on international trips.

Ms Mashigo disagreed with the Chairperson and mentioned that funds were wasted on consultants. It was unacceptable for the Department to be flying all over the world when it did not have a strategic plan.

The Chairperson came with a middle option and said that the Committee would meet the Minister and the Department in the third quarter of 2011/12 financial year to discuss all these issues.

Mr Ramatlakane suggested that recommendations 5.13 to 5.15 should be deleted and rather monitor the Department and asses it on its performance.

The Committee agreed with this recommendation.

On 5.16, Mr Dlomo suggested the insertion of the word “funded” between the words critical and vacant. Also, he pointed out that the words “six months” should be substituted with the words “sixty days” at the end of the sentence.

The Chairperson suggested the adoption of the report, Mr Gelderblom moved for adoption and Mr Ramatlakane seconded the motion.

Study Tour Discussion
The Chairperson informed Members that India had indicated that it was ready to receive the Committee, while China and Russia had not responded yet. He said that it was not easy to confirm the dates for the trip as the other two countries had not yet confirmed if they were able to host the a delegation from the Committee.

Mr Ramatlakane advised that the organisers should try and accelerate the confirmation of dates.

The Chairperson explained that the International Relations Desk in Parliament was the organisers, and were dependent on the response of the respective embassies.

Mr Gelderblom suggested that the Committee Task Team could meet after the meeting and thrash out another strategy of addressing the problem. He suggested that Thailand and Singapore could be used as alternatives.

Budget Vote: Department of Monitoring and Evaluation
The Chairperson reminded Members that the Committee had been assigned the task of looking at the budget vote of the Department of Monitoring and Evaluation to prepare for the debate on 8 June 2011.

The meeting was adjourned.


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