Deputy Minister in the Presidency & National Youth Development Agency on its Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plans 2013

Standing Committee on Appropriations

15 May 2013
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to receive a briefing from the National Youth Development Agency on its 2013/2014 Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plan. The meeting had been planned for an earlier date but later rescheduled to give the new board of directors time to settle in and familiarise themselves with the agency after their recent appointments. 

The Deputy Minister in the Presidency in charge of Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation told the Committee that he had met with the new board and the entire management and the meeting focused on the image of the agency. He had posed a challenge to the new board to repair the dented image of the agency. They took the challenge kindly and were prepared to work hard in that regard. It was now the duty of the Committee and government as a whole to assist and support the National Youth Development Agency.

The National Youth Development Agency told the Committee that the new board had already set in motion plans to restore the public image and credibility of the agency. The agency had adopted a new vision, mission and value statement in line with its plans to restore public confidence. The organisational goals, strategy and outcomes had been reviewed with key performance areas reduced from 10 to 5 and key performance indicators reduced from 72 to 27. The Board had capacitated and instructed the audit committee of the organisation to perform more regular audits to ensure compliance and improved processes. The agency was going to continue to draw its goals from the National Youth Development Act. The Committee was presented with the facts and figures relating to the revised strategic outcome oriented goals of the agency, new programmes contributing to the outcomes, strategic objectives, sub-programmes, indicators, targets and allocated budgets. The overall strategic goal was the creating of improved and sustainable livelihood opportunities for young people in South Africa. For the 2013/14, the National Youth Development Agency had a budget allocation of R392 million from the National Treasury through the Presidency.

In the discussions which followed the briefing, Members of the Committee asked questions relating to the communications strategy of the agency and measures taken to repair the relatively bad public image of the Agency. The board and the management of the agency were asked to explain the criteria which were going to be used in the new grants system which was to replace the previous loan system. The Committee also investigated into the agencies partnership programmes and its alignment with the National Development Plan.

 

Meeting report

Introduction by Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Obed Bapela, the Deputy Minister in the Presidency: Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, and the delegation from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) led by the newly appointed Executive Chairperson, Mr Yershen Pillay. The Chairperson said that the meeting was a good one because the executive of the NYDA was present to brief the Committee. The Committee formally welcomed the new board which was represented by the Chairperson and the officials from the NYDA. The Committee had done an oversight visit to the NYDA offices and got the impression that the agency was going to move in a positive direction. The image of the NYDA in public was not the best. It was good that the board was aware of this and the issue was being addressed.

The Chairperson said that the Committee had planned to get a briefing on the entity’s strategic and annual performance plan earlier. However, this was rescheduled to give the new Board time to settle in.

Minister Obed Bapela said that he was just going to give an opening remark and the Executive Chair of the NYDA would proceed with the presentation. The Minister said that he had met with the new board and the entire management. That meeting had focused on the image of the NYDA. He had posed a challenge to the new board to repair the dented image of the NYDA. They had taken the challenge kindly and were prepared to work hard in that regard. It was now the duty of the Committee and government as a whole to assist and support the NYDA. He would not say anything further and allow the Agency to present to the Committee.

Mr Yershen Pillay, Executive Chairperson, NYDA, thanked the Committee for the opportunity to present the organisations’s strategic and annual performance plans. After introducing the NYDA delegation, Mr Pillay said that the briefing was divided into three parts. The first part focused on the new strategic direction, key strategic shifts and programmatic shifts and highlights. The second part outlined the NYDA performance indicators and targets while the third part carried the budget.

New Strategic Direction of the NYDA
Mr Pillay said that the new board of the NYDA had already set in motion plans to restore the public image and credibility of the agency. The NYDA had adopted a new vision, mission and value statement in line with its plans to restore public confidence. The organisational goals, strategy and outcomes had been reviewed with key performance areas reduced from 10 to 5 and key performance indicators reduced from 72 to 27. The Board had capacitated and instructed the audit committee to perform more regular audits to ensure compliance and improved processes. The agency was going to continue to draw its goals from the NYDA Act. Mr Pillay said that it was important for the NYDA Act to be reviewed to enable much more focused interventions. The current form of the Act was too broad and made it difficult to have focused interventions.

Mr Pillay outlined the new vision, mission values and goals of the NYDA. He told the Committee that the key performance areas for 2013/14 included economic participation, education and skills development, policy and research, health and wellbeing, and governance and administration.
On programmatic highlights, grant funding had been adopted as the new delivery method for financial support to youth and the NYDA was no longer going to be providing loans. An amount of R25 million had been set aside for grant funding and this was going to cover grants for youth owned enterprises, cooperatives and for co-funding with partners.

NYDA Performance Indicators and Targets
Mr Steven Ngubeni, Chief Executive Officer, NYDA, provided the Committee with the facts and figures relating to the revised strategic outcome oriented goals, new programmes contributing to the outcomes, strategic objectives, sub-programmes, indicators, targets and allocated budgets. The overall strategic goal was the creation of improved and sustainable livelihood opportunities for young people in South Africa.

Mr Ngubeni told the Committee that the sub-programmes within this overarching goal included grant funding, community facilitation programmes, job placements, scholarships, Matric re-writes, career guidance, youth capacity building and job preparedness. The highest budgetary allocation was to grant funding for youth owned enterprises which were allocated approximately R44 million with the target of supporting 37975 enterprises.

Mr Ngubeni further provided a provincial breakdown of the performance indicators and targets of the NYDA.

Budget
Mr Khathutshelo Ramukumba, Chief Financial Officer, NYDA, said that the previous issue with the NYDA was that more was being spent on the organisation instead of spending on the country’s youth and their projects. The new strategic shift was a move in the right direction and the budget was positioned along those new lines.

The budget was in line with the key performance indicators of the agency. For the current financial year, the NYDA was going to receive R392 million from the National Treasury through the Presidency. The NYDA had budgeted for a recovery on loans worth R12.6 million and interests from the banks of R3.8 million. R33 million was going to be gotten in capital repayments. 

Discussion
The Chairperson asked if the Minister had any comments before the engagement from the Committee.

Minister Bapela said that in terms of the review of the NYDA Act, an inter-departmental task team had been set up and proposals had been gathered and compiled so the process was at the level of the state law adviser. Once the legal opinion was gotten, the draft bill was going to be ready by July 2013. It was going to be a section 76 Bill as it was important for provincial governments to participate in the programmes of the NYDA. Submissions had been received from the offices of all the nine Premiers. This meant that the Bill was going to be very inclusive.

Minister Bapela said that it was important for the Committee to note that the NYDA budget also included international programmes and workshops. An example of such an international programme was the Commonwealth youth meetings. The NYDA and the South African Youth Council attended these programmes and meetings. Although the attendance fees we paid by government, the NYDA had to cater for its logistics and participation cost responses.

Questions
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) said that it was a good presentation following the visible engagement and the promises from the new board. The commitment was noticeable.
On the issue of the image of the NYDA, what was the configuration of the entire board in terms of national representation?
Transparency was very critical. The NYDA had to ensure that public and the Committee should see the transparency of the grant system. What was the accountability mechanism associated with the grants. What were the terms and conditions? What was the communication strategy of the NYDA and how did it plan to reach the youth in remote areas? In terms of the long term vision, the NDP was projecting for 2035 but the NYDA was planning for 2050. Why was the NYDA projection not aligned to the NDP?

Mr N Singh (IFP) said that it was a good thing that the Minister, a member of the executive arm of government, was present. The new strategic vision was welcomed. There was need to revise the legislation governing the NYDA. A detailed discussion on the mandate and legislative amendments was also important. 

Mr Singh expressed concern about the budget for communication and public relations. The youth did not know about the NYDA programmes as its reach was restricted.
On partnerships, it was important for the NYDA to be careful in choosing its partners. It was necessary for the agency to be non-partisan in selecting its partners. The NYDA should not only focus on vulnerable youth but also on young people who need to continue in the pursuing of their dreams. On special projects, there was an amount set aside by the Presidency. How could the NYDA assist South African youth to access this fund?

Dr S Van Dyk (DA) said that the NYDA should monitor its advertisement processes. It could find out where people heard about the agency so that more efforts could be put in place.

Mr J Gelderblom (ANC) noted that there positive signs from the board. The visibility of the NYDA was improving. The NYDA had opened a training course in Mossel Bay for entrepreneurs and that was quite a good initiative. It was a good thing that the focus was shifting from the organisation itself to entrepreneurs. What was the status on the matric rewrite fund and what was the progress of that programme. How was it going to be rolled out?

Mr M Swart (DA) said that the NYDA was moving in the right direction but it was important for it to have fewer plans which could actually be achieved.

Mr Swart further asked what the pass percentage for the matric rewrite was. He said that it was good that the NYDA was moving away from loans to grants. Was the NYDA going to insist with business plans before giving the grants? How was the NYDA going to recover the outstanding amounts previously given out in loans? It was sad that the new applicants  got funds which were not going to be paid back but the previous loan beneficiaries had to not only pay back the loans but to also pay interests on the loans.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) asked what were the requirements and conditions of the partnership with Telkom and 8ta. How sustainable was the partnership? It was good that the partnerships and the NYDA should focus on South African youth and not youths from other countries. She gave the example of how bad it was to see that it was the youth from other countries selling airtime on street corners and not South African youth.

Ms N Mkhulisi (ANC) said that it was good that what the Committee had been requesting from the NYDA was now being considered by the agency. 
The NYDA had to focus on basic entrepreneurial foundations in schools. There was the need to start from basic levels.

Mr G Snell (ANC) noted that the NYDA had a target to fund approximately 38000 youth enterprises with the grants. The grant figure was just R25 million. That was not a practical target. There was also a discrepancy in the figures of the grant because the Chairperson said it was R25 million while the CEO said it was R44 million.

The Chairperson asked what the status of provincial boards was. He reminded the CEO that the last audit opinion had points of emphasis. What had been done to address these points of emphasis? What partnerships had been entered into to address the issue of employment placements? The budget for this programme was also very small. What could be done in this regard? He said that it was important for the budgetary figures of the NYDA to indicate that traveling figures included international travel.

Responses
Minister Bapela said that the configuration of the board was intended to be reflective of the demographics of the country. This process was however done by Parliament and was covered in the NYDA Act. Limiting the board to a number of 7 was restrictive. The suggestion was to increase the board to 13 members. The gender balance was also considered. There was also a fair representation of political party affiliations on the board.

Minister Bapela addressed the question on communications and said that the NYDA was in a transition. It was going to take communications seriously so that the youth could know about the various funding opportunities and projects of the agency.

Minister Bapela said that there were going be special criteria and frameworks to be used for the allocation of grants. Moving from the loan to the grant system, the intention was to broaden the reach of the funding. The project would now include mentorship and supervision.

On alignment with the NDP, Minister Bapela said that the NYDA was going to adjust its projections to align with the NDP. The suggestion was welcomed and was going to be taken seriously by the NYDA board.

On the legislative amendments, the draft was going to be a set of proposals and the most critical point was the parliamentary process. The draft bill was going to be ready in July 2013 and the hope was that Parliament was going to put as much inputs and corrections as required.

Minister Bapela said that the NYDA allocation was too little. However, the new positioning of the NYDA was going to profile the voice of the NYDA. Its partnerships were going to be very helpful as dependence on its budget alone could not lead to the satisfactory achievement of targets and the mandate. The NYDA was seeking to prepare the youth for greater activity in the economy and not just dependence on NYDA products and small entrepreneurship. The Youth Employment Accord was the gateway of the NYDA to the rest of the government departments and alignment to national priorities.
The NYDA was looking at other government programmes such as the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). 

Mr Pillay clarified the issue on targets and the budget for grants.  38000 was for all the enterprises which were going to supported by the NYDA and not only beneficiaries of grant funding.

Mr Pillay said that the NYDA was very well involved in the facilitation of job placements and it was working on beefing up its website to be able to receive CVs and build a solid and sustainable database.

On transparency and accountability, Mr Pillay said that the NYDA had been an organisation plagued by the spending of more money on itself rather than on young people. The new vision and strategy was going to turn around the situation. It was not going to be done in one day nor in one week but the new vision was going to continuously improve the situation.

On the creation of provincial boards, Mr Pillay said that there was a very serious need for the establishment of these structures so that there could be a more strategic approach to the work of the NYDA on the ground.

Mr Kenny Morolong, Deputy Chairperson, NYDA, also addressed the question of communication. He informed Members that there was progress with advertising and many interviews had been made with various media houses. What was very critical was the national footprint of the agency. There were only 14 offices nationwide and there was a need to have more offices and to increase capacity in terms of improving the national footprint.

Mr Ramukumba said that the NYDA management in cooperation with the new board was seriously addressing the matters of emphasis which were raised by the Auditor-General in his audit opinion. The matters of emphasis were mostly about irregular expenditure and the collection of outstanding loans.

The Chairperson said that he was impressed that for the first time, the Committee was happy and welcomed the presentation from the NYDA.

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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