Committee's First Draft report on the 2012 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS); Uganda and India Study Tour Update

Committee: Standing Committee on Appropriations

Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)

Date of Meeting: 13 Nov 2012

Summary

The Committee reviewed its first draft report on the 2012 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. The Committee agreed to flag the proposal that the National Health Insurance grant be changed from a schedule 5 to a schedule 7 grant. Other minor errors in the report were amended accordingly. Members agreed to adopt the report the following day.

The Committee briefly discussed its planned study tour to Uganda and India. Members noted that the trip was scheduled for 27 November 2012 and expressed concern that it had not yet been approved by the House Chairperson’s office.  They felt that the trip would not be approved and that could lead to waste of money because the preparations were at an advanced stage.


Minutes

Uganda and India Study Tour Update
The Chairperson informed the Committee that the House Chairperson had asked about the benefit of the proposed study tour and what was the difference between the study tour to India and the one to Uganda.
The Chairperson had indicated to the House Chairperson that both trips would be taken simultaneously- first Uganda and later India.

Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) asked who had problems with the Committee undertaking a study tour trip in the House Chairperson’s office.

The Chairperson explained that he had been talking to Mr Cedric Frolic and added that the name was not important because the Committee was dealing with the House Chairperson’s office.

Mr Ramatlakane said that Mr Frolic was the one who always had problems with the Committee.

The Chairperson explained that it was not about the person but the office, and Mr Frolic represented the House Chairperson’s office.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) said that the study tour might not be approved anyway, the Committee was supposed to leave for Uganda on 27 November 2012. The hosts on the other hand were ready but the Committee was unable to confirm if it was going because there was no clear answer from the House Chairperson’s office. The bungling would lead to wastage because the International Relations office in Parliament had already made arrangements for the Committee to depart on the said date. She then suggested that the International relations Office should cancel all arrangements before it was too late.

The Chairperson said that the whole process of preparing for the trip was frustrating because he could not just ask the House Chairperson’s office whether the trip was approved or not approved. There were certain channels and protocols that had to be followed by every Committee when applying for a trip. The Committee had to learn from other developing countries that had similar committees like those in India Kenya and Uganda. He promised to continue negotiating with the House Chairperson’s office.

Committee’s First Draft report on the 2012 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)
The Chairperson went through the report page by page and asked Members to raise corrections, additions and any kind of amendment that was necessary.

Mr M Swart (DA) referred to the 3rd bullet on page 1 and suggested the deletion of the words “if any”.

Mr Swart made further amendments on page 2 and 3.

Ms Mashigo made a minor amendment to the second paragraph on page 3.

The Chairperson made a minor amendment at the bottom of page 3.

Mr Swart referred to paragraph 4 on page 4 and substituted the word “an” with “at”.

Mr Ramatlakane enquired about the meaning of the third paragraph on page 9.

Ms  A Mfulo (ANC) explained that the sentence was correct, but the word “ Committee” should be substituted with “Human Science Research Council” so that it could be clear to the reader that it was not the Committee that made the proposal but the (HSRC).

Mr Swart referred to the same paragraph and asked who was supposed to suggest that a Conditional Grant should be changed from Schedule 5 to Schedule 7. He was concerned about the implications of changing the Conditional Grant, because Schedule 7 Grants were administered at National level while 5 were run by the provinces.

Ms L Yengeni (ANC) cautioned the Committee not to support the suggestion of changing the Conditional Grant from Schedule 5 to 7 because the Committee had never had a chance to ask provinces why they were ineffective. The Grant had been in existence for only one year.

The Chairperson said that the problem was with the National Health Insurance (NHI) at provincial level. The NHI could only be effective only when the primary health was in good condition at provincial level.

Ms Yengeni asked why the Department of Health could not intervene at the provincial level when there were hiccups in the delivery of NHI.

Ms Mashigo explained that the Conditional Grant was relatively new and had been inexistence for only a year. The pilot projects that had been in existence were in certain provinces.

The Chairperson explained that the Grant was new and the HSRC had been monitoring those pilot projects. The National Treasury had the right to stop transfers to provinces if they were ineffective.

Ms Yengeni cited a similar example where the provincial Department of Human Settlements had been allocated a Schedule 5 Conditional grant. The Treasury decided to give the provinces a chance because the Grant had only existed for a year. She urged the Committee not to recommend the proposal.

The Chairperson suggested that the issue should be flagged and the Committee agreed to this.

Ms N Mkhulisi (ANC) made a minor technical amendment on paragraph 6, and deleted the words “and a safe school environment”.

Mr Ramatlakane made some minor technical amendment to the second paragraph on page.

The Chairperson suggested the deletion of the word “Committee” and the insertion of the acronym “HSRC”.

Mr G Snell (ANC) cautioned the Committee against changing the content of presentations that were made to the Committee. He argued that more emphasis should be on the findings and recommendations instead.

Mr Swart made some minor technical changes relating to grammar.

The Chairperson suggested that the Secretariat should try and reduce the number of recommendations because some of them were repetitive.

The Committee agreed to adopt the report when they met the following day

The meeting was adjourned