Energy Portfolio Committee Reports on 3rd Quarter 2011 & Central Energy Fund oversight visit; Committee programme

Energy

21 November 2011
Chairperson: Mr S Njikelana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Members expressed satisfaction at the format and detail of the sessional report which provided a good working document. They also acknowledged the work of the Chairperson and the Committee Secretary. Members discussed issues of the Committee's under-spending of its budget allocation, filling of the post of content advisor, participation in more public hearings and considering legislation. Members also proposed increasing the funding allocated to oversight visits and training for the next term. The issue of increasing the Committee meetings to two days per week was discussed. The report was adopted.

With regard to the first term programme Members noted that the two days allocated to the visit to the refineries  were insufficient. Members also proposed that the programme include visits to the regional offices of the Department of Energy. The two outstanding visits to landfills in eThekwini were noted. The programme  was adopted.

Members proposed that the report on the oversight visit to the Central Energy Fund in November 2011 should include an emphasis on the creation of jobs and increased participation of local manufactures in the liquid petroleum gas process. The report was adopted.

Meeting report

Committee's Sessional Report September/December 2011
The Chairperson stated that, contrary to the norm in previous years in which the Committee closed with a presentation on its annual report, this year, due to technical issues and the annual report's being incomplete, the Committee could end the year with a sessional report.

Mr Arico Kotze, Committee Secretary, explained to the Members that a sessional report was one of the four  quarterly reports that would make up the annual report to be presented at the end of the financial year in March 2012. The Committee's reporting had become similar to that of the Department of Energy which was aligned to the financial year.

Mr Kotze took the Members through the reports, (see reports).

Discussion
The Chairperson said that filling of the post of content advisor in the support team was of paramount importance.

Mr S Radebe (ANC) noted that he appreciated the detail and format of the report.

Mr Radebe mentioned that in the next quarter it would be essential to ensure that more public hearings were held as it was an important aspect of the Committee's engaging with the public and other relevant structures.

Mr Radebe commented that the under-spending by the Committee of its R777 000 allocated budget reflected badly on its performance. He suggested that, in future, more funds be allocated to oversight visits. 

Mr D Ross (DA) agreed with Mr Radebe that the report which was a good working document.

Mr Ross concurred with Mr Radebe that the Committee should conduct more public hearings as the impression was given that the Committee was not doing enough to engage with the community.

The Chairperson commented that the main challenge experienced by the Committee was that it met once a week, therefore, public hearings could not be held frequently.

Mr Ross stated that the Committee should take a more proactive role in the consideration of Bills.

The Chairperson replied that though participation of the Committee in passing of bills was desirable, it was a long and demanding process which diverted Members from other issues.

Ms N Mathibela (ANC) asked if the remaining balance was available until the end of term in March 2012. In such a case the balance could be spent on the training programmes scheduled to be carried out next year.

The Chairperson replied that the Committee required quarterly updates to track the rate of expenditure. Such  could increase Members' confidence to take more initiatives.

The Chairperson said a correction of the title of the report was required, as it was more appropriate to date the sessional report September/November 2011 instead of September/December 2011.

The Chairperson commented that the report was useful for self assessment of the Committee’s performance as it highlighted the weak performance areas which required strengthening in the future.

The Chairperson commented that opportunities for international trips were offered to committees in turn. Therefore, next year, another committee was to have the chance to make an international trip. He would enquire whether the system also applied to sponsored trips.

The Chairperson noted that under the Report and Financial Statements of Vote 28 on page 5, the referral date 19 October 2011 was after the date of consideration 14 October 2011.  This had to be reviewed and corrected.

The Chairperson said paragraph 14 should include the Public Meeting on Renewable Energy hosted by the Committee  17 November 2011. 

The Chairperson stated that paragraph 19, outlining the financial report on the budget, required a further breakdown on each line item to give a clearer picture.

Mr S Motau (DA) expressed appreciation at the work done by the Chairperson and the Committee Secretary. More work had been done since their appointments.

Mr Motau proposed that the report be adopted with the minor changes. Mr Moloto seconded the proposal.

Committee's Report on its oversight visit to the Central Energy Fund, August 2011
Discussion
The Chairperson expressed satisfaction at the report.

Mr Radebe noted that the report should include job creation and the promotion of local manufacturers of liquid petroleum gas (LPG).

The Chairperson replied that the promotion of local manufactures and job creation was being handled in a systematic process in the first phase of the bidding process, as these two aspects were the main emphasis of the tender allocation. However the Committee was going to follow up that the process to ensure that it had been successfully carried out.

Mr S Motau (DA) moved to adopt the report. Mr K Moloto (ANC) seconded the move. The report was adopted without amendments.

The Chairperson commented that two outstanding reports prior to his term as Chairperson needed to be adopted. He requested Mr Kotze to inquire with the former Committee secretary on the progress made so far, as it reflected badly on the current Committee.  The reports needed to be adopted and confirmed by individuals that had attended those meetings.

Committee programme for 2012 first term
The Chairperson commented that the oversight visit scheduled on the 16- 20 January 2012 to Mossel Bay could focus mainly on LPG.

The Chairperson noted that the motivation of the study tour to two pilot hybrid energy systems in the Eastern Cape the Hluleka Nature Reserve on the Wild Coast and the neighbouring Lucingweni community was to expose Members to off grind systems which could facilitate provision of electricity to rural communities.

The Chairperson noted the briefing by the Presidential Review Committee on state-owned entities scheduled on 24 January 2012.

Mr Moloto commented that in light of the recent crisis in the supply of LPG the Members needed to focus not just on the refineries but the whole supply chain which included the security of supply of crude oil and the challenges faced by the refinery owners in terms of upgrading of the refineries. He noted that the Committee could move as far as inviting Transnet to give a briefing on the challenges that it was experiencing.

The Chairperson agreed that security of supply was important. Nonetheless, he added that the number of refineries scheduled to be visited had not been detailed in order to allow Members flexibility.

The Chairperson commented that the Minister of Energy had initiated an audit of the refineries which could allow for a basic understanding of the issues raised.

Ms Mathibela asked for clarification over the statement that the constituency period was subject to change.

Ms Mathibela reminded Members of two outstanding oversight visits to landfills in eThekwini.

Mr Moloto said that the time allocated for the refinery visits was not adequate to address all issues.

Mr Radebe commented that the Committee needed to include visits to the regional offices and address issues of petroleum licensing.

The Chairperson replied that the Members should try and be creative to link up the oversight visits with the visits to the regional offices.

Mr Selau asked if the Committee Secretary had taken into consideration the presidential address scheduled when Parliament formally opened.

The Chairperson replied that the schedule was passed through to the House which could make the adjustments. Nevertheless, was confident that the Secretary had factored in these important dates.

Committee minutes: adoption
 The Committee adopted, with corrections, its minutes of 14, 18, 19, and 25 October, and 01, 02, 08, 11 and 15 November 2011. 

Discussion
Mr Selau suggested that a standard practice be adopted of writing the minutes for immediate approval in the next meeting. This would allow the issues arising in the previous meetings to be followed up and addressed in the agenda of the next meeting.

The Chairperson noted that it could be taken into consideration for the next term.

The Chairperson highlighted the need to have the Committee support Unit and the Budget Unit develop a uniform reporting format.

The Chairperson mentioned that it was the last meeting of the year. He thanked Members for their cooperation and inputs throughout the year and reminded Members to prepare for the Conference of the Parties (COP) 17 in Durban.

The meeting was adjourned.



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