Department Budget: Analysis by Parliament Research Unit

Arts and Culture

23 April 2002
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

23 April 2002

Acting Chairperson: Ms Tsadi Tsewu [ANC]

Documents handed out:

Department Budget 2002/3: Vote 14
Overview of Budget and Key Activities of the Department
General considerations when analyzing budget
Six questions raised by the Research Unit with answers from the Department
[email protected] for these documents]

Parliament's Research Unit gave a comprehensive presentation on how best the Committee could hold the Department to account when it came to its budget vote.

The purpose of the briefing by Parliament's Research Unit was to sharpen and equip committee members with the necessary information and tools prior to their meeting on the budget vote with the Department of Arts, Science, Culture and Technology.

The meeting was facilitated by Mr N van Zyl and Ms T Nguza of the Research Unit who identified what general considerations must be taken into account when analyzing a budget and then specifically considerations around the key objectives and programmes of the department. The team then analysed the objectives, programmes and estimates of expenditure of the departmental budget.

Matters to consider when analyzing the budget:
National priorities
Parliamentary committees should check that the department budget contributes towards the national government priorities such as poverty alleviation, job creation, infrastructural development, equity, HIV/AIDS.

Implementation of legislation
The budget should take into account the requirements of legislation such as the requirements of the Public Finance Management Act, Affirmative Action policy, Preferential Procurement Policy and Access to Information. The Department is supposed to have plans to meet these national government strategies. It was noted that the current Department budget does not have input on the promotion of cultural industries as contained in the White Paper on Arts, Culture and Heritage.

Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) priorities
The budget must be able to balance social and economic objectives. It must also clearly spell out in concrete terms the Department's plan of action in realizing its own aims and objectives.

Key objectives
They must be measurable
- They must reflect the national priorities and policies.
- Committee members must weigh the stated objectives against their experiences in their respective constituencies. They must also check if there are any plans in place to communicate department policies and stated objectives to the communities out there.
- They must check if the stated objectives have been translated into programmes.

Programmes and sub-programmes
Members must check if the stated programmes do indeed support the overall objectives. In Vote 14, for example, is there a specific programme for cultural industries as this is the Department's key policy development issue?
- Members must also look at whether outputs support the main objectives and that there is a relationship between the two.
- They must also look at the allocations against the relative importance of programmes. This can be done by looking at the allocation proportion for poverty alleviation, economic growth, and job-creation for example against funds to the overall budget.
- They must look at whether the funds allocated for activities are sufficient. This could hold clues about the Department's level of commitment to those activities. Members must also ask for business and implementation plans for each activity mentioned.
- Equity considerations must also be noted when looking at the programmes.

The research team then analysed Budget Vote 14 in the light of this. Some points that they raised were:
Table 14.1: Overall budget [Page 289]
- Current expenditure is too much compared to capital expenditure. That should not be the case. In fact, it should be the other way round. A large capital expenditure shows increased economic activities like infrastructural building which holds great potential for job creation.

Expenditure trends [Page 290]
The researchers felt that the department should provide a costed business plan regarding infrastructure development at cultural institutions (R70m) and the construction of Freeedom Park (R180m).
- The budget vote states that "Decisions about poverty relief funding for 2004/5 have not been finalised. The Department needs to be asked when they are going to be finalized. If not yet finalized, on what are the estimates based?

Table 14.3: Administration [Page 292]
- It was noted that there is no increase in the annual estimate for Acquisition of Capital Assets over the medium term as all three financial years are allocated R954m.

Key outputs, indicators and targets [Page 294]
- One of the targets is "Museums established". This was felt to be too general and numbers and locations of these museums should be mentioned.

Due to the unexpected overrun of the presentation, there was not enough time for questions. The few that were asked were not answered by the presenters as they felt that they could best be answered by the Department. Those questions were:
- Dr Pheko (PAC) wanted to know about the significance of meta -information under the Ministry of Arts, Culture, Science and Technology.
- Ms H Mpaka (ANC) asked about the beneficiaries of the Poverty Relief Fund.

Ms Njobe (ANC) asked for clarity about Mr van Zyl's point regarding the fact that 70 percent of the departmental budget was going towards personnel costs.

Ms Nguza explained that such a high percentage was questionable as the Public Finance Management Act requires that not more than 60 percent of the budget allocation should be for personnel costs.

The meeting was adjourned.



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