The Portfolio Committee deliberated on the first draft of its Report on the 2012 Strategic Plan and Budget Vote of the Department of Trade and Industry. Members pointed out omissions and that legislation considered by the Committee during the past financial year and which would be considered during the current financial year had to be mentioned. The achievements and challenges of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, National Consumer Commission, and National Credit Regulator, and their strategic plans and budgets, had to be included. The report also had to tabulate the Acts the Portfolio Committee supervised. Members also felt that the financial information of the previous financial year, the current year as well as the projections for the following financial year had to be reflected in the report, together with information on the projects funded with these budgets. This would make it possible for the reader to see the continuity and the “bigger picture” pertaining to the budget of the Department and what it was spent on.
Members also asked that the report include graphs like pie charts, which would better show which part of the national budget the Department received, and how the money was distributed amongst the different programmes within the Department itself. Members felt that there had to be a section which captured the relationship between the Department and other Government departments as well as its relationships with other spheres of Government.
The Committee would consider the second draft of the report next week. The report would have to be adopted by 09 May 2012. The Budget Vote for the Department would be on 18 May 2012.
Committee’s Report on the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) 2012 Strategic Plan: consideration
The Chairperson suggested that the meeting look at the Draft Report on the Budget Vote and Strategic Plan of the DTI first, as the quorum needed for adopting minutes was not yet constituted.
The report had to reflect which entities the Committee engaged with in their Strategic Plan and Budget Votes. The achievements and challenges of the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission, National Consumer Commission, and National Credit Regulator, and their strategic plans and budgets, had to be included as comprehensively as possible. These were not included in the current report.
Mr X Mabasa (ANC) thought the bills and Acts the Portfolio Committee had considered or reviewed also had to be included in the report.
The Chairperson said that what was critical was to indicate in the report which bills would be engaged this year. The report had to tabulate the Acts the Portfolio Committee supervised.
Mr G Selau (ANC) asked that the pages of the report be numbered. There was reference to the increase in the use of consultants. He remembered that it was discussed, but he was not sure that the Committee agreed that employing consultants was the better option. He thought that the Committee believed in recruiting permanent employees and equipping them with the skills to be able to do the work expected of them. The way in which it was captured in the report made it appear as if the Committee encouraged the use of consultants.
There was a typographical error on the page he reckoned as the ninth, the last sentence of the second paragraph from the bottom. The sentence read: “In response to the matters raised……matters was not raised.” It had to be:” ….matters were not raised…”
The Chairperson said, regarding the comment on consultants, that the Committee still had to deal with the conclusions of the report. This matter could be highlighted there.
Adv A Alberts (FF+) said that there was a typographical error on the second last page, under the heading NCC Budget, the third line from the bottom of that paragraph, in the word “Economy”.
He also suggested that the report included graphs like pie charts, which would better show which part of the national budget the DTI received, and how the money was distributed amongst the different programmes within the Department itself.
Lastly, under the heading issues raised, he said there was an issue, which was not raised by the FF+, but the FF+ was part of the discussion. The issue was the National Industrial Participation Programme (NIPP) - a programme that enabled Government to negotiate obligation agreements with suppliers that were contracted to supply institutions with goods, works and services that had imported content. He was not sure where it would fit in but the Minister had come back with more information regarding the question raised on that issue.
Ms S van der Merwe (ANC) remarked that it was a good report, but she never understood how reports were structured. The greater part of the information in the report was already known. A small part of the report was about how the Committee reacted to the information. She would appreciate it if somebody could explain it to her.
On the second last page, page 10, the report read: “Needed in SA is….” She wanted to know what was needed in South Africa (SA).
The National Consumer Council (NCC) Budget was a contentious issue and she felt it would be better expressed in the following way: “Views were expressed by the Committee that the NCC should be adequately funded, in order to make sure existing funding is well used”. Some people had the view that more funds had to be allocated to the NCC, but this was not necessarily the case. The Committee had to ensure that the funds the NCC already received were well spent, as this was its oversight mandate, before additional funds were allocated, but the NCC definitely needed to be adequately funded in order to do its important work. This was the Committee’s view that emerged from the discussion.
The Chairperson referred Adv Alberts’ remark about NIPP. NIPP was discussed outside of the budget. It was an agenda item standing alone. It was part of a sub-programme within the DTI. What was critical, as part of the function of oversight of the Committee, was to highlight the weaknesses in the previous budget. The Committee had to be able to determine whether it was retrogressing or progressing.
On the issue of the structure of the Budget Vote Report, it had to reflect where the Department and its entities came from, its current state, and in which direction it was moving. It was critical to highlight the challenges and how they were going to be resolved.
The conclusions and recommendations were very important. The expenditure figures for the previous year, the current year, and the projected figures for the following year had to be included as part of this part of the report, so that readers could see the relationship and continuity between the sets of information. A reader who would look this report up in the archives should not have to cross reference. All the information would be in this report.
This was why the issue of the NCC was raised. The Committee had engaged the entity for almost two hours on its strategic plan and budget. A single paragraph would not do justice to this level of engagement. It had to be treated as a subtopic within the report itself. The challenges and achievements of the Intellectual Property and Companies Commission also had to be reflected in the report. When talking about adequate funding, one had to be able to get a sense of the expenditure pattern of an entity in order to see whether additional funding was justified. If the entity was likely to underspend, there was no reason to allocate it more funds.
Mr Mabasa understood that the first phase of looking at the document was looking at the broad areas, to see whether everything that needed to be included was included, but he thought it was time to look at it page by page. He asked whether there had to be a section which captured the DTI with respect to the other departments and other spheres of Government.
The Chairperson replied that this report was a first draft. The secretariat would take all the additions, subtractions and overall recommendations in terms of order and structure and would draft a tighter second draft taking all of it into account. Then the page by page process would happen. The aim would be to adopt it the following week. The budget vote would happen on 18 May 2012. By 09 May 2012, the report must be complete and adopted. It then must go to the Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports (ATC).
When the Budget addressed the challenges the President spoke about, the Committee would be doing its job well.
Committee minutes: adoption
The Committee adopted, with amendments, its minutes of 22, 24 and 29 February, and, without amendments, its minutes of 7, 16 and 20 March 2012.
Ms Van der Merwe pointed out that separate issues had to be listed or named separately, not in the same sentence. The sentences had to make sense.
When the Committee asked questions and the Department responded on them, the questions and answers needed to be minuted as such. The record needed to reflect how the Department responded.
Ms Van der Merwe liked the phasing: “The Committee focussed on the following:”
Mr Selau said that when an alternative Member was in the meeting and he or she did not vote it was an abstention.
The Chairperson said that only the full Members were recorded. Small parties like the FF+ could not have alternate Members.
The meeting was adjourned.
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