Committee Report on Statistics South Africa Strategic Plan 2013

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Finance Standing Committee

08 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr T Mufamadi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to consider and adopt its report on Statistics South Africa’s budget and strategic plan for 2013. Members noted the improved quality of the document notwithstanding the few typographical, grammatical and technical. Members proposed that the following recommendations should be added to the report:

●Statistics South Africa, the South African Revenue Service and the Companies and Intellectual Property must appear before the Committee to report on progress towards the finalisation of the single business registration process.
●The Statistics South Africa Act must be strengthened and the mandate of the entity revisited to allow it to do credible work.

●The definition of unemployment used needed to be revisited.

●All the different spheres of government should make use of Statistics South Africa data optimally.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks

The Chairperson welcomed the Members and apologised for the changing the starting time of the meeting so many times. He was sure that Members would be informed about Parliament’s schedule in their respective caucuses. The Committee would have to decide later when it would be able to meet to hear the presentations by National Treasury (NT) and South African Revenue Service (SARS) on their strategic plans. He proposed that the Committee meet with these entities the following Tuesday. Even though there would be plenary on that day, it would be uncomfortable to do the Budget Vote debate without meeting them first.

Committee Report on Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) Strategic Plan 2013
Mr T Harris (DA) commended the good quality of the grammar, spelling and formatting in the report. It was better than in the past.

Ms Z Dlamini-Dubazana (ANC) suggested that the second paragraph of the introduction be omitted. Paragraph three explained the same thing better.

Mr N Singh (IFP) suggested that the wording of the second paragraph of the Policy Priority of the Department should be changed to accurately reflect the fact that StatsSA would provide the necessary data, not the National Development Plan (NDP) as stated in the paragraph. 

Mr Harris said in the second last bullet under the Responses by StatsSA, it should be specified that it was the ‘potential’ impact of the Youth Wage Subsidy, as there was no subsidy in place at the moment.

Recommendations
The Chairperson called for recommendations, although he did not anticipate any.

Mr Harris said it was important for the Committee to summon StatsSA, SARS and Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) to come together to finalise the single business registration process, as it had been delayed. The wording would read “StatsSA, SARS and CIPC must appear before the Committee to report on progress towards the finalisation of the single business registration process”

Mr Singh said the Department should be asked to come up with a plan to indicate the resources required for the Community Survey, as it would take five years.

The Chairperson asked the Members to engage the Committee Secretariat after the meeting to accurately capture the wording of their recommendations.

Ms Dlamini-Dabuzana suggested that the Committee ask the Minister to apply his mind on the limitations of the enabling Act (StatsSA Act) on the mandate of StatsSA and its definition. StatsSA needed to be enabled through the Act to co-ordinate activities. StatsSA should be asked to increase its personnel pool. It was unable to fill permanent posts because of the scarcity of resources.

Mr D Ross (DA) recommended that policy and methodology be adhered to in future when census results were released to avoid assumptions and misunderstandings in future.

Mr Harris explained that the narrow definition of unemployment was the one used by the International Labour Organisation (ILO); therefore, it was regarded as official. He suggested that StatsSA be asked to compile data on the broader definition to enable the Committee to get a better picture of the situation.
 
Dr Z Luyenge (ANC) said that indications were that the StatsSA Act needed to be strengthened to help StatsSA do a credible job.

Mr Ross asked that the Committee express its concern about the significant increases in the cost of living and the impact on inflation. It was necessary to have newer and better statistics and to strengthen the methodology used.

Ms Dlamini-Dabuzana agreed with Mr Ross but it was not necessary to have it as a recommendation. StatsSA could just be asked to explain the methodology at the next meeting.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should reflect on the lack of optimal usage of information and data by various state entities when making decisions and planning.

Dr Luyenge said that StatsSA was decrying its own systems, which meant that its product could not be globally competitive.

Ms Dlamini-Dabuzana said that not all three spheres of government were using StatsSA data optimally, this should be remedied.

Mr Ross asked the Committee to note the qualified audit and ask that it be improved.

Next meeting
The Chairperson asked that the Committee sit at 08h30 on Tuesday of the following week to hear the presentation by SARS and NT. The members would then be late for plenary.

Mr Koornhof moved for the adoption of the report. Mr Ross seconded. The report was duly adopted.

The Chairperson asked the members to send in the wording of their recommendation to the Committee Secretary by the end of business that day.
 
The meeting was adjourned.

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