The Portfolio Committee met to discuss and adopt the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) in relation to the Department of Social Development (DSD) and its entities. The Content Adviser and Committee Secretary took Members through that report, and explained where the information had been sourced in the compilation the Report. The Content Advisor focused on the recommendations being made, noting that these asked the Minister to ensure that challenges were addressed in regard to implementation of certain sections of the Children’s Act, and qualifications of social workers who processed inter-country adoptions. The Minister was asked to intensify educational campaigns to de-stigmatise adoption, to deal with policy for substance abuse, and the importance of post-treatment programmers. The Ministers of Social Development, Police, and Justice and Constitutional Development should clear confusion around the implementation, and the reporting, on Part B of the Child Protection Register (CPR). The Ministers of Social Development and Human Settlements were asked to explore how to deal with lack of housing for places of safety. In relation to internal matters, the Minister was asked to ensure stringent controls and systems to prevent irregular expenditure, to ensure that all senior management posts were filled, and to find mechanisms to address registration, funding and capacity building of NGOs, especially in rural areas.
The Content Advisor noted that there was some uncertainty about the backlog of cases and whether the backlog of 49 300 cases included the foster care cases, and the Committee needed to follow up and get clarity on this point. This would be added as a further point. In relation to the budget, the Report noted that although 99.1% of the budget was spent, only 61% of the targets were achieved, and there were further concerns about the shifting of emphasis between programmes, which had resulted in too little attention being paid to matters. This too was to be added in as another recommendation that the Minister must address this point. At the suggestion of one Member, references to the need to align with the National Development Plan were also inserted. The Minister was asked to ensure that there was proper planning, that supply chain management was strengthened, and that overall the five dormant funds of the Department were deactivated or that necessary legislation was brought to close them.
Members were generally happy with the presentation of the Report, pointed out a few minor errors, which were to be corrected, and agreed with the inserting of the new recommendations, as already detailed. They commented that the backlog was too high, and a comparison of how it had increased from the previous year was needed. The importance of after-care in rehabilitations was stressed. Members agreed that performance reporting and planning against the targets had to improve. Members discussed adoption, and some questioned whether same-sex adoption was desirable, although the Chairperson assured them that this was a constitutional issue. There was a comment that annual targets should be time-bound and that the department should look to the momentum of the programme. It was noted that the inspectorate, which had been a problem in the previous year, was resolved.
The Committee adopted the Fourth Term Programme, and minutes of previous meetings.
Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)
The Committee’s Content Advisor read out the Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) to the Committee. The Committee was informed that the team responsible for compiling the draft used a new template, therefore apologised to the Members if there were any inconsistencies and formatting errors.
Some important points from the draft were highlighted, as follows:
- The BRRR included a statement on the mandate of the Committee, a description of the Department of Social Development, the purpose of the BRRR report, as the method followed
- The key relevant policy areas were summarised, which included the State of the Nation Address (SONA) and all the other key areas on which the President put an emphasis on, and also the Department of Social Development (DSD or the Department) strategic priorities for the year 2012/12013
-The summary of previous key financial and performance recommendations of the Committee were important, as they helped the Department to note where improvements needed to be made
The Recommendations section of the BRRR was then summarised. It was noted that the following recommendations were made:
- The Minister of Social Development should address the challenges that had been encountered in the implementation of certain sections of the Children’s Act
- The Minister should ensure that the issue around the qualification of social workers who processed inter-country adoptions were resolved
- The Minister should intensify educational campaigns to de-stigmatise adoption ,especially among black communities
- Recommendations were made around the need to prioritise and address policy around substance abuse, and the Committee emphasised the importance of the post-treatment programmes being put in place
- In relation to the Child Protection Register, the Committee recommended that the Ministers of Social Development, Police, and Justice and Constitutional Development should clear confusion around the implementation, and the reporting, on Part B of the Child Protection Register (CPR).
- There were recommendations on places of safety and the Committee recommended that the Minister of Social Development, in collaboration with the Minister of Human Settlements, should explore ways to resolve the challenges around the lack of housing for places of safety.
- Recommendations were made on internal controls as the Committee recommended that the Minister should ensure that stringent controls and systems were developed to prevent any possibilities of the Department incurring irregular expenditure.
- In relation to the Committee’s report on the budget, the Committee recommended that the Minister
should ensure that that all vacant posts at the senior management level were filled as a matter of urgency
- It was recommended that the Minister must establish mechanisms to address challenges related to the registration, funding and capacity building of NGOs, especially in rural areas
The Content Advisor was not sure about the exact number of the backlog. It was not clear, from the DSD reports, whether the backlog of 49 300 cases were included in the 157 000 cases of foster care placement or if the 157 000 foster care placements were over and above that, as a new issue. She suggested that perhaps the Committee should follow up on this point.
The BRRR report also included the Financial Performance for the year 2012/2013, The Department, under Vote 19, received a final allocation of the R112 billion, and spent 99.1% of the allocation in the 2012/2013 financial year .The largest portion of the budget was in the form of transfers to Programme 2: Social Assistance, in which there was spending of 99%.
During the 2012/2013 financial year, the Department had an average overall spending of 99.1% .Under-spending amounted to R1 027 976, constituting 0.92% of the overall budget. The spending was divided into five programmes, which she named.
The Committee Secretary informed the Committee that there was a new item on the draft, which had to do with the National Development Plan. This new item described the NDP, and the significance of the role played by social assistance in poverty alleviation.
The Content Advisor said that it was important to note that there is there was a disjuncture between the financial expenditure and the service delivery performance. The expenditure averaged 99.1%, but only 61% of targets were achieved for 2012/2013. Some of the reasons for deviations stated by the Department suggested a need for enhanced planning. In some instances, the lack of funding was cited, in others there was mention of processes such as consultation that impacted on the inability to meet targets, the fact that human resources targets were not always suitably developed during the planning processes - and this should become an oversight focus of the Committee - especially during the tabling of Strategic Plans and APPs in the future.
The Content Advisor then spoke about the overall delivery performance. The Department had some important achievements in different policy areas such as Child and Youth care, Early Childhood Development programmes, substance abuse and social crime, as well as in the Food For All programme, programmes on older persons, and people with disabilities.
The Content advisor noted that there was a concern for all targets which were not met in the five programme – and another problem here was that although the programmes used almost all their budget, the targets were not met.
The Content advisor also drew the Committee’s attention to the findings from the oversight visits by the Committee. These findings related to on older persons; early childhood development, social assistance, substance abuse, food security and other issues.
Challenges and successes were included in the Findings section of the draft Report. The findings from relevant external research, assessing the performance of the Department, were also included, and these were based on research conducted by the Age in Action group and the World Bank.
Another of the Recommendations to the Committee was thus that the Minister should review how the Department set its annual targets, to ensure that they were realistic and available.
The Department should also strengthen its supply chain management system and it should ensure that it met its performance targets as planned for each year.
Another recommendation in relation to DSD overall was that the Minister should facilitate a process to ensure that the five dormant funds of the Department were deactivated, or that legislation to close them was drafted and submitted to Parliament in the next financial year.
The Chairperson said that the draft BRRR was comprehensive. She asked Members to go through each page of the Report, to correct mistakes and discuss the drafting.
The Chairperson noted, on page 4, a concern about the percentage, and asked the Content Advisor to recheck those figures.
Ms E More (DA) noted that the backlog was too high and there should be a recommendation specifically on that.
The Chairperson responded that it was actually the numbers, more than the percentage, that was so worrying. She asked the Content Advisor to source the actual number. There was no baseline on this, and there should be a baseline for both financial years.
Ms H Makhuba (IFP) said that the Committee also needed an indication of how that backlog might have increased in this year.
The Chairperson then referred to page 5. The number of rehabilitations needed to increase and people who had received treatment should receive aftercare services. She used an after-treatment facility in Eldorado Park as an example, and also stated that there should be more evaluation centers and after-care services in communities.
Mr R Bhoola (MF) added that these facilities would be helpful as Courts usually referred people with drug addiction to the rehabilitation centres.
Ms M Mafolo (ANC) also stated that these facilities would be helpful.
Mr Bhoola asked what was happening with the Bill around human settlements.
The Content Advisor thought that this had been completed, but she would do some follow up.
The Chairperson stated that this Bill was not a Parliamentary bill and that it was not on the list of the Committee. This Committee and Department were not dealing with legislation.
The Chairperson noted that the Department received a clean audit but it needed to improve on its performance reporting.
She further pointed to a problem highlighted on page 7. There was a problem of planning. The Department had the populations statistics and list of needs, and it should be easy for the Department to marry the two and cater directly to the needs of society. However, the DSD did not meet targets. Lack of proper planning and strategising meant that some of the targets would not be met. The Chairperson also noted that other programmes were sacrificed for those where there was more focus.
Ms F Khumalo (ANC) noted that something was wrong with the planning, and said that those programmes and people who had been compromised should also be considered.
Mr Bhoola suggested that there should be some mention of the budget being aligned to the National Development Plan.
The Chairperson said that this was a good point. The NDP emphasised good governance planning.
Ms T Xaba (ANC) wanted to ask about adoption. She emphasized that it was important to follow up on the children who had been adopted, and check on them .She also suggested that the social workers should provide a second adoptive parent who would adopt the child should the first adoptive parent pass on.
The Chairperson told the Committee that was difficult to place children in adoption once they were past babyhood. People tended to prefer to adopt babies, rather than children who were fully developed. The Chairperson said that it was important that children who had been put up for adoption should not be kept in the system for too long.
Ms N Gcume (COPE) told the Committee that some foster parents complained that the foster application process is too long. She told the Committee also that some people complaining had been those in a same-sex relationship and believed that the Committee should discuss the issue of same-sex couples adopting.
The Chairperson responded by saying that same-sex couples were not prohibited from adopted, and that a “family” could consist of two men or two women or one man with one or more women.
Ms Xaba also wanted to raise questions on whether this was acceptable.
The Chairperson said that it was a constitutional matter; any person, regardless of their sexual orientation, could make an application to adopt. There were other options, such as an open adoption, where a mother could choose who must adopt her baby, but that was not usual.
Ms E More said that black culture did not recognise adoption by same-sex couples and she was specifically mentioning this culture because there tended to be more black children who were homeless or abandoned. She was very worried about black boys, in particular, being raped. She also said that it was necessary to look carefully at who the law was benefiting – child or parents.
The Chairperson said that normally the children adopted got good treatment from their adoptive parents.
Ms Mafolo returned to the point about some programmes being compromised and said that the Committee must check out which of the programmes had spent more, and which programmes did not get any funding.
The Chairperson asked the Committee Secretary to add Ms Mafolo’s point regarding the virements to recommendations.
Ms Xaba believed that when people were admitted to rehabilitation programmes, the assessors should consider the period of the addiction, and then base the treatment they were eligible to receive on that consideration as well.
The Chairperson responded by saying that only certain cases needed referrals .Drug addicts tended to be violent and some people needed to be institutionalised because the problem went far beyond drug abuse.
The Secretary, at the request of the Chairperson, read out the following additional recommendations:
-Alignment of budget to target and to the NDP
-Foster care issues and whether the backlog had increased
-Questions around evaluation centers and aftercare centres.
The Chairperson said that substance abuse buildings was much easier; there was not a need for totally new facilities, but only to improve those already in existence.
The Chairperson asked the Secretary to note the Committee’s appreciation to the Department for its cooperation, as well as the Auditor-General and other stakeholders
Ms More also said that the annual targets should be time bound, and the last paragraph should read ‘the Department and its entities’.
The Chairperson suggested that the Department should also look at the momentum of its programmes.
Mr Bhoola reminded the Committee about the issue of the inspectorate.
The Chairperson said there was an issue about monies available in 2011/2012, but it had apparently been resolved.
Some Members noted grammatical errors, which would be corrected.
Mr Bhoola wanted to know about equalisation and the means test, and asked if the policy was compliant with the SONA announcements, and when it would be rolled out.
The Chairperson said that the President had spoken on the “universalisation” of the old-age grant. The means test would eventually be phased out, and the process made simpler due to technological advancements.
Ms Xaba proposed adoption of the draft, and this was seconded, and agreed to by other Members, subject to the necessary changes.
Adoption of Fourth Term Committee Programme
After checking through the draft of the 4th term programme it was adopted.
Adoption of minutes
The Committee proposed and adopted minutes of previous meetings.
The meeting was adjourned.
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