The Committee considered the draft Strategic Plan report for adoption. Highlights of the report were presented to the Committee Members. The report also addressed issues such as the relationship of the Committee with the Economic Development Department (EDD) and other entities, the effectiveness of the Committee’s oversight tools, areas of weakness for the EDD and the areas of achievement for the Committee.
The Committee emphasised the improvement of the relationship between itself and the EDD, clarifying to the entities the role of the Committee in building a stronger relationship which fostered trust and transparency, as well as carrying out more oversight visits to the provinces and the entities. The development of a tracking system to allow the Committee to be able to track the outstanding issues from entities that required follow up was one of the key recommendations in the report.
Member made minor corrections to the report. The report would be adopted after presentation to the Committee.
The Committee was supposed to adopt a few of its minutes, but shifted this until the next meeting.
Committee Report on the entities reporting to the Department
The Chairperson clarified that the Committee would deal with the Draft Strategic Plan Report today,, and they would adopt the minutes of previous meetings on another day. The consideration of the report would start at page three.
Mr X Mabasa (ANC) agreed with the Chairperson’s proposal.
Ms Brenda Mabaso, Content Advisor to the Committee, informed Members that Mr Saul Levin, a facilitator from Trade and Industrial Policy Strategies (TIPS), who was formerly from the Economic Development Department (EDD), helped in ensuring that the Strategic Plan was more focused on EDD related issues and the work of the Committee. The Committee had a two-day session at which deliberations were made and the report was then compiled by TIPS and presented to the Committee for adoption if satisfied with its contents.
Ms Mabaso said that during the workshop, the facilitator felt that the Committee needed to talk to the key documents that informed the work of the Committee and that of the EDD. A presentation was then made outlining economic policy issues related to the State of the Nation Address and the issues contained therein. The presentation also showed how these issues were related to the work of economic development. A summary was given of the three key economic issues in light of what the National Development Plan was all about and the key issues in the New Growth Path and how it related to both the work of the Committee and the EDD. The Industrial Policy Action Plan was also considered during the summary. It was also emphasised that the NDP, NGP and IPAP were aiming for the same economic objectives.
The Chairperson said that TIPS was just a facilitator and that the report was more of a representation of what the Committee Members had discussed at the workshop.
Ms Mabaso said that at the workshop, the facilitator formulated questions that were discussed, questions that were seen as measuring the overall performance of the Committee. It was a form of self-evaluation for the Committee over the past years. In terms of measuring the impact of the Committee, it was agreed that this had to be looked at in terms of its achievements categorised into effectiveness in its oversight role and work around administration In terms of personal skills and capabilities, the Committee was vibrant with regards to what it was doing. A lot had been done to ensure that there was stability considering that it was a relatively new Committee and the meetings were also consistent. The Committee had over the years gained experience in understanding micro and macro economic issues.
She stated that the main challenges experienced by the Committee over the years included personnel and skills capacity at the start, which had been addressed, inadequate monitoring tools to allow for follow up on issues raised during meetings, financial resources – this limited the Committee, limitation on influencing the policies of the EDD on small medium enterprises and cooperatives, and the knowledge gap on the understanding of macro economic issues such as balance of payment.
A risk analysis was done in the event of the Committee failing to perform its role and it was concluded that this would include failing the nation in addition to impacting the credibility of the Committee and Parliament as a whole, something that would be considered wastage of resources.
Ms Mabaso said that there was a discussion on the relationship of the Committee with the EDD. It was concluded that although there was a good relationship, there was a concern about the lack of transparency and information sharing on the part of the EDD. The limitations affecting the effectiveness of the EDD included staff turnover in high positions (for instance the replacement of the Director-General), which was affecting continuity and some of the projects in a way. The relationship between the Committee and the EDD was rated at seven on a scale of 1-10, and the overall performance of the EDD was rated at five out of 10. The area of improvement for the EDD that was identified was increasing turnover on information requested from the Committee.
With regards to the EDD’s areas of weakness, the Committee raised concerns on human resource issues (staff turnover). However, it was commended on its financial management (confirmed by the audit reports) and lack of qualified audit reports. There were areas of concern in functionality but the three major areas for improvement that were identified were: improvement by the EDD in its oversight role of the entities; ensuring that its mandate was delivered; and owning specific projects as opposed to ‘piggybacking’ on projects that were also being worked on by other departments.
The impact of Committee on the work of the EDD was discussed and it was noted that the measurement could be done through a determination of whether or not the executive had implemented the Committee’s recommendations. It was noted that the Committee had impact on the EDD because some of the implementations by the EDD and entities were as a result of some of the recommendations made by the Committee. There was also a discussion on whether the Committee’s tools for oversight had been effective and whether there should be more emphasis on oversight visits as opposed to inviting entities to present reports before the Committee.
With regards to the areas improvement for the Committee, it was noted that there was no follow-up on the issues presented by the entities due to lack of a tracking system. The recommendation was that the content advisor, the researcher and Committee Secretary should develop a system or mechanism that would ensure that the Committee kept track of outstanding issues and that Members were placed in a position of being able to follow-up with the entities. The other recommendations were the development of skills and knowledge in certain areas (improvement in the use of information technology so that Committee members could be able to receive reports before coming to Committee meetings).
In terms of the relationship between the Committee and the entities and how this could be improved, it was recommended that clarity should be given to entities on the role and expectations of the Committee to foster trust and greater transparency. Entities did not have a clear understanding of the oversight role of the Committee, which explained the lack of enough information when some of the entities appeared to make presentations. It was also recommended that there should be roundtable discussions on small micro and medium sized enterprises and cooperatives. On the provincial oversight visits, it was pointed out that one way of improving this would be through the greater coordination and alignment between the EDD and the entities in organising the visits to the provinces.
Mr K Mubu (DA) said that the report was very informative adding that the recommendations suggested on pages 10, 11 and 12 should be taken as guiding pointing points for the Committee in doing its work.
Mr X Mabasa (ANC) thanked those responsible for compiling the report. Some corrections were required in spelling and semantics such as substituting the words ‘to bring out’ on page eight of the report in bullets one and three. On page 13 bullet one, ‘citizen’ had to be plural. He added that Committee in the report should be with a capital ‘C’ and the spelling of cooperatives had to be corrected. On page 17, item 8.2, the word ‘effective’ had to be substituted with ‘focused’.
Mr S Mohai (ANC) said that it was a good report, adding that the roundtable discussions were a good innovation and that it had to be pursued vigorously by the Committee. Part of the roundtable discussions should be based on the thrust of the EDD, as it was an important element of coordination and integration of government efforts.
Ms M Mpane-Mohorosi (ANC) said that the Committee should visit entities more instead of having to call them to appear before the Committee. Research and public hearings had to be part of the recommendations as they were very relevant for the Committee’s performance of its oversight role.
The Chairperson said that the Committee had visited some of the entities before some Members had come on board.
Ms Mpane-Mohorosi stated that the Committee’s work outside the country had to be emphasised. The Chairperson said that the Committee was considering applying to go to India to look at the small micro and medium sized enterprises. China and Kenya were also possibilities.
The Chairperson said that the strategic plan report was well structured and that the workshop and facilitation that eventually led to the compilation of the report was good in that it allowed for assessment. The report would be presented to the Committee after effecting the changes proposed by the Committee Members. She added that the outstanding minutes had to be adopted at the next meeting.
The Chairperson said that the Parliamentary Monitoring Group’s (PMG) concern about not being able to access written responses made by the presenters from the Committee Secretary was received and that a response would be made in writing. She added that when the Committee Secretary received the written responses, she could not forward them to PMG without having them tabled before the Committee. Moving forward, she said that the Committee Secretary would send through the written responses to PMG after they were tabled before the Committee.
The meeting was adjourned.
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