Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, Content Advisor to the Committee, presented the updated Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) to the Members. She indicated where additional adjustments and additions were needed from Members on each page of the BRRR.
During the meeting, the Members had various questions and comments which resulted in shifting and rephrasing sentences to make report a more accurate reflection of what is happening in the Department. Major concerns that the Committee had were around the Department asking for more budget allocation when there was under-spending in the previous financial year. Many core targets were not achieved, and the Members stressed that something should be done immediately. Other issues were around programmes that were underperforming, high salary scales in an unstable Human Resources structure, and the need to establish ICT governance and policy. The value of good cooperation was also stressed and the need to bring the NGOs more on board. Members said that the National Gender Based Council had the potential to do good work but they were concerned about the lack of proper funding.
Women, Children, & People with Disability Budgetary Review & Recommendations Report
Ms Kashiefa Abrahams, Content Advisor to the Committee, presented the updated Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) to the Members. The other document circulated (see attached document for details) came from the Department of Women Children and People with Disabilities (the Department) and provided more detailed supporting evidence for the BRRR. She indicated where additional adjustments and additions were needed on each page of the BRRR.
The mandate of the Committee remained the same, and so did the description of core functions of the Department, Purpose of the BRRR, Method and Outline of the Contents of the Report. The Implications of the 2012 and 2013 State of the Nation Address remained the same, and so did the budget review. The outcomes-based approach was a synopsis of what the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation had indicated.
Members indicated that no changes were needed to this section.
Ms Abrahams continued that no changes were needed for section 2.5, which set out the overview of revised Strategic Plan and Annual Performance Plans. Section 2.6 covered the overview of key developments in the organisational and service delivery environments of the Department for 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 cycle. The key development had been the development and implementation of the Turn-Around Strategy.
Members did not wish to make any changes.
Ms Abrahams referred to the summary of previous key financial and performance recommendations of the Committee. She had, following input of Members yesterday, made some changes on the finance section of the table, by adding that the Department under-spent by R12.96 million due to vacancies which had yet to be filled. The timeframes for allocations were limited. Vetting processes took some time to process. The section on Human Resources set out that the Department had worked on an amended HR structure. She referred to page 8 of the document from the Department which had information on posts, vacancies and leave analysis.
Ms H Lamoela (DA) asked where the value 118 for filled posts came from because the Department had said last week that the Department did not have a leave register yet.
The Chairperson said that only the Department could answer that point.
Ms Lamoela said that she was concerned that the figures from last year January were “made up” if the Department did not have that register, and this would impact on the budget.
Ms Abrahams moved to page 14, which gave information on how the Department would give the skills audit report. She asked if the Members felt that the information was a good reflection of the progress of the Department.
Ms Lamoela said the information was accurately stated. She asked if December 2013 was the deadline for the skills audit completion.
The Chairperson asked that she note this point, to be discussed when the Committee reached the recommendations.
Ms Abrahams asked again whether the Committee had agreed to the skills audit and report submission.
The Chairperson said she found this information repetitive.
Ms G Tseke (ANC) said she supported that recommendation being included.
Ms Tseke referred to the footnote, under the Overview of Vote Allocation heading, that “The Main appropriation is reflected under section 2.3 of this document,” and asked what the Department actually spent.
Ms Abrahams answered that nothing had changed in the quarterly spending trends for programme expenditure and administration. Total donor funding received was R3.541 m. She added a sentence to page 10 of the report saying “The Department has subsequently provided the Committee with more information pertaining to donor funds.” She also explained that page 4 of the document from the Department provided a list of donors, how much was donated by each donor, and for what activities.
Ms M Tlake (ANC) commented on the paragraph, “It is evident from all the justifications given for the reasons for under-expenditure that it relates to work which the Department has not done within the stipulated annual performance plan time. This in itself should be balanced and taken into consideration in relation to the performance of the Department and whether an increase in budget for the Department is necessary and justified.” She asked if the statement provided enough reason to have an increase in budget in the Department.
Ms Lamoela asked what was wrong with the statement. Reasons were given for under-expenditure.
Ms H Makhuba (IFP) suggested that Members needed to revert to page 10 when discussing the Recommendations section.
The Chairperson asked Ms Abrahams why that statement was made on page 10.
Ms Abrahams explained that the clause acknowledged the under-expenditure, and the request for more money. This Committee needed to report on financial performance and recommend in what particular areas more money would be needed.
Ms Tlake asked whether this paragraph was the main deciding factor in determining whether the budget should be raised; whether it decided on the adjustment to the money allocation. She added that she felt that this statement should move to the end of the report.
Ms Lamoela disagreed that it be moved. It was not the final decider. However, it may be better to put it under the Recommendations section. She believed that Members should be open and frank and highlight the issues in the report. The only issue the Committee had had with the paragraph was that it had not then seen the list of donor funding.
The Chairperson felt that the Committee needed to strike a balance between reflecting negatives and positives in the report, and suggested moving the paragraph to another section.
Ms Abrahams recommended shifting the paragraph to the Findings section of the report to have a more solid basis when requesting more money for the Department.
Ms Lamoela agreed, provided that the paragraph did stay somewhere in the Report.
Ms Tseke disagreed with this. She felt that there would be a contradiction in moving the paragraph to the Findings section.
Ms Abrahams then referred to page 30 of the report on Value for Money under the Financial Performance section, which also commented on funding proposals. She said that the paragraph on under-spending came directly from what the Department had said. She suggested that the paragraph discussed be moved to the first bullet point under Value for money.
The Members agreed to this.
Ms Abrahams went to the section headed Administration of financial information on page 11, read the Departmental response and asked if any additional responses were needed.
The Chairperson said that what the Department was noted as saying in the section was sufficient.
Ms Tlake went back to page 10 and asked for clarity regarding donor funding, quoting : “...the donors spend their funds on NGOs delivering services, as opposed to assisting the Department with implementing its mandate when it does have the funds to implement its mandate.”
Mr Lorenzo Wakefield, Parliamentary Researcher, explained that the Department provided a list of targets and funds allocated to them. Some targets were not fully funded by National Treasury, so the Department would receive a sum agreed upon from a donor. This Department, as part of its core mandate, must do advocacy with donors regarding service delivery issues. The argument for not providing funding was the scepticism around what the Department had really done to advocate, and concern about its under-spending.
The Chairperson asked for more clarity.
Mr Wakefield explained again that the Department could receive donations, but there was a big question whether the Department checked that the money was actually used to ensure provision of core services for women, children, and people with disabilities. The Department had under-spent already on its own budget allocation.
Ms Tlake asked that the wording in that section be adjusted in line with what had been said.
Ms Lamoela did not support the rephrasing, believing it was not necessary. NGOs needed funding to implement what the Department had to oversee. The phrase made sense.
The Chairperson said that simple language would help people understand better.
Mr Wakefield suggested, and Members agreed to, clearer wording.
Ms C Diemu (COPE) reiterated that simple wording is key for this report.
Ms Abrahams asked if the Members were happy with what was said on page 11.
Members had no problems with that. They also did not make any changes under the paragraph on Programme 2: Women Empowerment and Gender Equality (WEGE).
The Chairperson asked, in respect of Programme 3: Child Rights and Responsibilities (CRR), in financial information section, whether the R3.82 million under-spent by the Programme had been clarified.
Ms Lamoela was satisfied that it had.
The Members made no changes to the section on Programme 4: The Rights of People with Disabilities (RPD) and the Director General’s report on the funding situation, and Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) report.
The Chairperson confirmed that no Departmental response was needed to the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) section.
Ms Lamoela commented on salary scales and said she did not understand when the Minister said that people could not be paid on a lower scale than they had previously. Because 62% of the budget goes to Administration, there would always be an issue with salaries as there would be insufficient money in the budget. People knew what they would be paid when they applied for a post.
The Chairperson agreed with Ms Lamoela and said that the salary should be paid according to the Department of Public Service and Administration salary scales.
Ms Tlake explained that salary issues varied for those seconded by departments in line with the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA), but new applicants must be paid salaries according to set scales.
The Chairperson said the salary issue was a discussion for another day.
Ms Lamoela disagreed, and said it was a matter needing discussion now, especially with the newcomers into the Department.
Members confirmed that they did not require a Departmental response to be noted for the third bullet point under the financial performance for the Child Rights program.
Ms Abrahams pointed out, under the second bullet point under RPD, that the Minister acknowledged the poor financial year’s performance.
Ms Lamoela said that in the Disability programme, the performance was not good.
The Chairperson said that it should be noted that under Disability, there was under-spending, and under-performance.
Ms Lamoela said this was not the first time this had happened. She asked Ms Abrahams to add into the Report that the Department acknowledged concerns raised by the Committee and would attend to them.
Ms Abrahams asked whether any additions were needed for section 4.4: dealing with the 2014/2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework Financial allocations. The Report noted already that Council needed more money and the HR structure needed to be improved.
Ms Lamoela said that this Council was not performing. She added that there were four other councils doing more or less the same initiatives, and, particularly in view of funding challenges, the Committee should be working together with all these councils combined.
The Chairperson explained that the Council was formed for a purpose, and need not merge with the other councils. The structure must be fully resourced so that it fulfilled its function. She stressed that violence against women and children was still a big problem in South Africa and the Council was to address this issue.
Ms Abrahams then asked if anything needed to be added to section 4.4., aside from the Human resources and Council issues discussed.
Ms Tseke added that these issues are really affecting the Department as they were critical and long-outstanding.
Ms Abrahams noted that no comments were made in the concluding comments.
Ms Abrahams said under the Review section, she had added in the Department’s response that measures were in place to produce in-year monitoring reports. In terms of compliance to policies, the Department had informed the Committee that financial control mechanisms and risk mitigating measures had been implemented. The Department had employed an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) co-ordinator. In terms of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Governance Framework, the Department indicated that it would address the issues.
Ms Tseke said that the Department indicated that the revised ICT Policy Framework was submitted for approval late by the Department of Public Service and Administration.
Ms C Diemu (ANC) said it should be added that ICT Governance Framework would be developed.
Ms Lamoela explained that she had made a note in May last year when she spoke on Performance of the Committee, but nothing had been done yet on HR, ICT and policy issues.
Ms Abrahams referred to list of activities that the Womens Empowerment and Gender Equity (WEGE) unit had undertaken, on page 19 of the Report, and page 25 of the document from the Department. She added that all targets not done in 2012/13 would be rolled over to 2013/14 period.
Ms Crystal Levendale, Parliamentary Researcher, reminded Ms Abrahams that the Department had not yet included the rolled over objectives in its Annual Performance plan (APP).
Ms Tseke asked if it was correct to address targets not achieved first, in drafting the report.
Ms Levendale explained why targets not achieved were highlighted first; namely to find out how the Departments plan to deal with the unachieved targets.
Ms Abrahams said that in terms of Ms Levendale’s input, more achievements should be included in the report.
The Chairperson suggested that, based on Ms Levendale’s comments, there must be an explanation in the report for why unachieved targets were highlighted.
Ms Lamoela said that it was important to work on why the targets were not achieved and what should be done.
The Chairperson corrected Ms Lamoela, saying that the breakdown in the report was only on targets not achieved. It would take up too much space in the report to include achieved targets.
Ms Abrahams added a phrase under 5.1, as a precursor for the table of unachieved targets, reading: “It is imperative to ascertain what the Department’s plan is in addressing outstanding targets that were not achieved, hence reflection of targets not achieved is provided”.
She then moved on to programme 2 (WEGE), and highlighted section that said, “New Growth Path is endangered.” She said the Departmental response was that that target was not included in the 2013/14 APP, but there were processes under way to engage with the Economic Development Department. On item 12, the gender audit report to monitor compliance to national commitments (which was not achieved), the Departmental response was set out on page 25 of the Department’s document. All Child rights and responsibilities targets were achieved under the first two objectives. There were concerns under the departmental response,
Ms Lamoela referred to the section on Child Rights and Responsibilities in the Department’s document, and said the reasons for under-spending on Compensation of Employees were needed.
Ms Abrahams asked if the Members had a Departmental response on targets not achieved, looking at page 25 of report.
Ms Lamoela was disappointed by so many unachieved targets. She said that what the Department reported, and what was actually done were two completely different things.
Ms Abrahams said, under Programme three, that the Department came with policies for objectives 1 (Advocacy and mainstreaming to promote the rights of people with disabilities) and 2 (To monitor and evaluate mainstreaming of disability considerations into Government’s policies and governance processes). Two targets were not achieved for objective 3. She then read through the Department’s response for programme 4. She said the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) report was with the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRC) and would be deposited, but not the disability report.
The Chairperson asked why the Members were saying that the Department response was not clear.
Ms Lamoela said the status of the disability report was unclear, because CRC was not with Cabinet.
The Chairperson said the report was with the Department.
Mr Wakefield said the status of this report was unclear because the research team was unsure whether Cabinet had seen the report yet and whether it had been finalised or not.
Ms Abrahams spoke to Objective 3 (Institutional support and Capacity development for equal access and opportunities for people with disabilities) and said the institution framework would be completed during the 2013/2014 financial year. She said there was a report from the DPSA. She then asked if there were any additions needed for the Departmental response.
The Chairperson asked whether it should be mentioned that the Department had exceeded its 2% target for the employment of persons with disabilities.
Ms Abrahams said this had already been noted under the findings.
Ms Abrahams moved on to service delivery performance for 2013/14, where both the achieved and not achieved targets are highlighted. No changes were made. She said the last four documents of outstanding matters were policies not completed in March 2013 (they were still in draft) but have been finalised now.
Ms Lamoela said it was worrying that disability targets were not met. She said the Department’s staff attended United Nations conferences on disability, yet nothing was being done here in South Africa about the issues. She asked what the point was of attending these conferences is if so much still needed to be done in the country.
Ms Tseke asked why the programme was performing so badly. Much was being done, but she said that the efforts had to be directed to the core responsibility of the Department. She asked if the work was done in line with the key indicators of the programme.
Mr Wakefield said that the programmes were not in line with what this Department said it would be doing.
Ms Lamoela said she no longer wished to see excuses around shortage of funds and inability to fill vacancies.
The Chairperson agreed, saying that she was not seeing any real results.
Ms Abrahams read up to the Concluding Comments on Service Delivery Performance, which noted that the Department had made progress with the turn-around strategy.
Members confirmed that nothing more had to be added.
Ms Abrahams said no changes had been made to the finance and service delivery performance assessment. She amended bullet point 3 to say, “The Department has ensured that no over-expenditure will be maintained going into the 2013/2014 financial period.”
Nothing was changed under Committee’s key findings.
Under “value for money” in section 7.4, she reminded members of the paragraph which had been shifted here.
Members agreed that they were happy with the dates in the summary of reporting requests.
Ms Lamoela said that whilst the dates were fine, the Committee needed to get the relevant documents from the Department on time so that issues could be scrutinised before the meeting.
The Chairperson said that Travel and Subsistence must be detailed in quarterly reports. She in fact encouraged monthly reports as it would make it easier to compile the quarterly reports as the Auditor-General had said. Under monthly reports, she asked for clarity about the deadline, the 15th of every month.
Ms Abrahams explained that, for example, the February report must be submitted to the Portfolio Committee by 15 March, giving the Department two weeks to send the report.
Ms Lamoela agreed that this would make it easier for the Department to report quarterly.
The Committee confirmed, under the Recommendations section, the points made under Financial Performance. Under Human Resources, bullet point number 5 was rephrased to, “The department must have a personnel development plan that is linked to a performance contract for all staff.” Ms Abrahams said that the final bullet would affect the budget.
Ms N Ngcobo (ANC) Member of the Portfolio Committee on Health, who was attending this meeting to make a quorum s, said that funding for personnel development should be increased, and should not be used for any other purpose than intended. She suggested that the bullet point should specifically state this condition. Ms Abrahams adjusted it accordingly.
Ms Lamoela raised concerns about what the National Council of Gender-Based Violence was doing.
The Chairperson said that not everything done by the Department was reflected in the reports. She also said that this Council was launched without funding, but Parliament wanted to see it functioning.
Ms Lamoela agreed. She said even the older Councils did not perform, and in view of this the question must be asked whether it was even worthwhile to establish them. If so, then performance and outcomes were needed, with regular reporting. She said the Department was struggling because, at provincial level, no one was looking after the issues affecting women and children. She saw firsthand the hardships women and people with disabilities were dealing with, but the Department did not seem to have the right policies or legislation to help the people.
Ms P Petersen-Maduna (ANC) suggested that the first bullet point under Human Resources should be rephrased.to: “All key funded vacancies must be filled, and key positions.”
The Members felt that the phrase was fine in its original form.
Ms Tlake thought Ms Lamoela’s questions could be addressed by suggesting the integration and collaboration of the Department and strengthening monitoring and evaluation.
Ms Tseke believed that the Committee had done justice to the report and proposed adopting the report with amendments. She thanked the Researchers and the Content Advisor, as well as the Committee Secretary.
Ms Lamoela acknowledged the Researchers’ work also, and said that she was sure that the Department would be different if it had people of this calibre. There was a need not to waste taxpayers’ money and to deliver. She stressed the urgency of the fight for the rights of women. Time frames must be adhered to by the Department. The Committee saw, during its oversight, what was not being done. She wondered how the Department would pay its 388 invoices that they have.
The Chairperson said that there were many outstanding questions that needed to be prioritised. She said that she could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
Ms Ngcobo said that it was important to invite, on time, the NGOs working on shadow reports to these meetings as they were informed. She also stressed that the Department must work with people with disabilities.
The Chairperson agreed and emphasised the value of collaboration.
The meeting was adjourned.
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