Economic Development Department 1st quarter 2012 performance: department admonished

Economic Development

27 August 2012
Chairperson: Ms E Coleman (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The focus of the meeting was to look at the performance of the Economic Development Department for the 1st quarter of the year (April-June 2012). The Chairperson highlighted the importance and role of the Economic Development Department in the context of the various challenges facing the nation. The Committee was therefore committed to proper oversight to ensure the Department’s mandate was achieved.

The Committee was supposed to receive both the quarterly report and the presentation from the Department but the Acting Director General informed Members that the report was not ready and the Department was only going to present a summary of the report. The reason for the delay was the need to strengthen the content quality of the report.

Members expressed disappointment in the Department and did not accept the reason for the delay. The Chairperson called off the meeting, reminding the EDD that documents had to be sent through to the Committee at least three days before the meeting.

Meeting report

The Chairperson said that the focus of the meeting was to look at the performance of the Economic Development Department (EDD) for the 1st quarter of the year. The Committee had been expecting the EDD to present a full report and this was clearly stated in the letter inviting the EDD. The Committee needed the full report instead of a presentation which was just a summary of the full report. The EDD was a very important department because it was responsible for the overall coordination of economic policy and the implementation of very important areas of growth such as enterprise development, financing, and programmes addressing the major challenges of poverty, income inequality and the need for economic development. There was high unemployment especially amongst the youth and the EDD was at the center of the debate. The Committee had to oversee what the EDD was doing so it was important to have the full report.

The Chairperson said that the Acting Director General of the EDD had informed her that the report was not ready and that what was going to be presented to the Committee was an outline. The Committee had stressed in its letter to the EDD that it needed the full report. For proper oversight to be done, reference had to be made to the report.

M H Hoosan (ID) asked why the report was not available.

Mr Z Ntuli (ANC) said that it was important for the Acting DG to give a specific date when the report was going to be ready.

The Acting DG of the Economic Development Department, Mr Saleem Mowzer, apologized on behalf of the EDD for the written report not being tabled. There was a team of officials who were finalizing the report and it was going to be circulated at the end of the meeting or at most the next day. The reason for the delay was that there were some areas in the report which needed to be verified and thus could not be submitted to the Committee in that state.

Ms D Tsotetsi (ANC) asked if the reason for the delay in the tabling of the report was lack of capacity to compile the report or had they received the request for the report late.

Mr Mowzer replied that it was not a problem of capacity nor was it because they had received the request late. Given the work that was done during the first quarter, there were some areas which were not satisfactorily reported on and the Acting DG requested that the work be redone. The officials who were in charge were either out of town or in meetings and even at this point in time, there was a particular piece of information which was required and the individual who could provide the information was in a meeting so the information could not be obtained yet.

The Chairperson said that the excuse from the Acting DG was not honest as the EDD was supposed to be preparing monthly reports as this was a requirement of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). The quarterly report was supposed to be the compilation of the monthly reports. The issues that were not satisfactory should have been taken care of in the monthly reports. The EDD was going towards the end of the 2nd quarter. Did this mean that the EDD was not submitting monthly reports or what was the challenge? The monthly reports were submitted to the National Treasury as per the PFMA and then consolidated as quarterly reports for publication by the National Treasury. Perhaps there was a problem of capacity or even something worse than a capacity problem.

Mr Mowzer replied that the EDD did submit its monthly reports on a regular basis as per Treasury regulations. The Acting DG insisted that it was not a capacity problem and that he was the one who felt that there were areas in the report which needed to be strengthened. However, the correction was not completed timeously. He said that he took responsibility for the delay. The report was going to be circulated at the end of the day’s meeting or at the most, the next day.

Mr M Hlengwa (IFP) said that given that the report was not ready yet, there was a presentation which was supposed to be a summary of the report. What was the presentation based on?

Mr Hoosan said that the specific reason why the report was not ready was not clear and the Acting DG needed to explain if the information which needed to be strengthened cut across the entire report or was it something that was minute and the work of the Committee could continue while waiting for the final document.

Ms Tsotetsi said that there was no reason for the Committee to discuss the presentation but get the report at a later stage.

The Chairperson said that she was going to make a final ruling on the matter. The EDD had still not given the Committee the previous quarterly report. There had been a specific request in the current invitation to the EDD that a full report should accompany the presentation. There was no logic in continuing with the meeting and receiving a presentation which was not good enough. If the Acting DG was not comfortable with the report, it meant that the Minister had not seen the report either and therefore it was important to call off the meeting. The EDD would be invited to the next meeting to present the report. The EDD had to note that reports had to be sent to the Committee at least three days before the meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

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