The Deputy Minister: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) explained the absence of the just re-instated Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Mr Steven Ngobeni, who faced charges of financial mismanagement and gross dereliction of duty. The Labour Court had just ruled that “whether Ngubeni is guilty of the charges brought against him, the NYDA breached Ngubeni's contract of employment when it decided unilaterally to terminate that contract in the face of an uncompleted disciplinary enquiry.” The NYDA Board would not be appealing the court ruling, but it was still considering the judgement. Mr Ngobeni remained at home, until the issues had been clarified. Hence the Acting CEO – Ms Ayanda Makaula – continued in her position.
Members sought clarity on material impairments that amounted to well over R212 million. While the NYDA financial statements were not qualified there were many red flags the Auditor General raised under matters of emphasis. Could the Committee be furnished with a comment on the figure, the recoverability was which was doubtful. Why was this happening and what steps were being taken to recover the money? Clarity was sought on whether the amount included the debt inherited from the uMsobomvu Youth Fund and the Youth Commission. If this was the case, how much of the impairment resulted from those entities. What was being done to recover the amounts owed to the NYDA? Members raised concerns on the decision to discontinue loan funding, and substituting it with grant funding. It asked if the NYDA considered handing cash directly to beneficiaries. With loans there was a possibility of recovering the amounts through legal means. Could the officials elaborate on this process, and give the Committee an assurance that this would not be a simple case of handing out sums of money. Members wanted to know if there would be systems to guard against a situation where money was paid to people with suspect business plans, but good connections within the NYDA. Clarity was sought on most of the investigations that were happening at the NYDA.
NYDA responded that the loan book was impaired at a rate of about 90% because the beneficiaries were high-risk, most of them did not have securities and collaterals. Young people asked for assistance with only a business concept that they believed would improve their socio-economic conditions. If in the view of the NYDA the business proposals presented were viable, such projects would be funded. There were other global economic conditions that affected the sustainability of the businesses owned by young people. Another general challenge faced by the youth was that the industry did not have confidence in businesses owned by young people. Opportunities were too few for them. This was the reason the loan book did not perform well. Assessment included looking at the market viability of the businesses. Due diligence was conducted through visiting the premises where the business would be located. There were interactions with industry players to assess whether the concept had an opportunity to be successful. A comprehensive assessment was also done on the individuals applying for grants. It included looking at the risk profile of the individuals. But people were not turned away for being high-risk. The NYDA was a developmental entity, and would therefore still fund even those who did not have security or collaterals so long as the concept was viable. Some of the debt was indeed inherited from entities that preceded the NYDA.
NYDA stated that processes being followed in recouping the money were multi-pronged. Where the beneficiaries failed to pay, but assessment of their financial circumstance indicated they had progressed, such people were pursued through the legal process. A legal firm to assist with collection had been hired. Other young people whose businesses struggle were engaged on revising the terms of the loan. Sometimes the monthly installments of the loan were reduced or the loan term was extended. The NYDA had also looked to bring in the services of debt collectors.
The Chairperson welcomed Mr Obed Bapela, Deputy Minister: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), and noted an apology from Minister Collins Chabane. The Committee appreciated when Ministers notified it when they would not be able to attend Parliamentary meetings. He also welcomed the delegation from the National Youth Development Agency (NYDA).
The Deputy Minister commented that his Department was responsible for, among other departments, the NYDA. He came to observe, but indicated that at the end of the introductions he wanted to comment.
The Chairperson commented that he found the request very strange, but allowed the Deputy Minister to comment.
The Deputy Minister replied that there might be confusion about the absence of the suspended-dismissed Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mr Steven Ngobeni. The Labour Court reinstated the CEO last week, but the executive authority (NYDA Board) was still considering the judgement. Mr Ngobeni remained at home, until the issues had been clarified. There were quite a number of issues that were raised in the judgement but also in some of the decisions of the NYDA board. This was the agreement that had been taken, and hence the Acting CEO – Ms Ayanda Makaula – continued in her position.
Material impairments of R212 million
Mr R Ainslie (ANC) highlighted that the Committee oversaw financial statements of 250-300 government departments and public entities. Of that number, only 10 to 15 could be invited to Parliament. When a department or an entity was invited it should feel honoured. That was an indication that the Committee believed in the importance of such a department. The NYDA was extremely important when it came to the economy and youth empowerment.
Mr Ainslie requested a comment on material impairments as reflected in the Auditor General (AG) report in the 2012/13 Annual Report. While the NYDA financial statements were not qualified, there were many red flags the AG raised under matters of emphasis. Among these were the material impairments. Could the Committee be furnished with a comment on the figure of R212 million, the recoverability of which was doubtful. Why was this happening and what steps were being taken to recover the money? He clarified that his initial focus was on loans and not grants.
Mr Khathutshelo Ramukumba, NYDA Chief Financial Officer (CFO), replied that the context to the loan book (loan-financing programme) was vital in trying to explaining the figures.
The Chairperson interjected and requested that the official deal with questions directly and leave the history.
Mr Ramukumba replied the loan book was impaired at a rate of about 90% because the beneficiaries were high-risk, most of them did not have security and collateral. Young people asked for assistance with a business concept that they believed would improve their socio-economic conditions. If in the view of the NYDA the business proposals were viable, such projects would be funded. There were other global economic conditions that affected the sustainability of the businesses owned by young people. Another general challenge faced by the youth was that the industry did not have confidence in businesses owned by young people. Opportunities were too few for them. This was the reason the loan book did not perform well.
Mr Ainslie asked how the NYDA assessed viability of the people who applied for assistance. What principles would the NYDA apply?
Mr Ramukumba replied assessment included looking at the market viability of the business. Due diligence was conducted through visiting the premises where the business would be located. There were interactions with industry players to assess whether the concept had an opportunity to be successful.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether assessment of the individual who proposed the business concept was also done. This was crucial; and should be at the top of the list of things done in determining viability.
Mr Ramukumba replied this was also done and that it was quite comprehensive. It included looking at the risk profile. But people were not turned away for being high-risk. Then, the NYDA would develop mechanisms that would improve the possibilities of succeeding.
The Chairperson commented “which were not very successful”.
Mr Ainslie asked if any kind of security was required from beneficiaries that the loans would be repaid.
Mr Ramukumba replied security was required where it was available. The NYDA was a developmental entity, and would therefore still fund even those who did not have security or collateral as long as the concept was viable.
Mr Ainslie asked if part of these amounts were inherited from other agencies that preceded the NYDA like the uMsobomvu Youth Fund. If this was the case, how much of the impairment resulted from those entities.
Mr Ramukumba replied this was indeed correct. Part of the loan book was inherited from uMsobomvu. This situation also related to the funding patterns of the two institutions. U-Msobomvu was capitalised at inception at a R1 billion, while the NYDA was capitalised at about R238 million, an amount that had not seen any meaningful growth. The NYDA had extra responsibilities compared to uMsobomvu.
The Chairperson asked if the NYDA had an idea of who had applied for loans, and those that had been approved.
Mr Ramukumba replied the NYDA did not have information on applications out of hand. The loan book was over 5 years old, and some of those who would have come through the applications process had established business.
Mr Ainslie asked what was being done to recover the amounts owed to the NYDA.
Mr Ramukumba replied processes being followed were multi-pronged. Where the beneficiaries failed to pay, but assessment of their financial circumstance indicated they had progressed, such people were pursued through the legal process. A legal firm to assist with collection had been hired. Other young people whose businesses struggled were engaged on revising the terms of the loan. Sometimes the monthly installments of the loan were reduced or the loan term was extended. Often it was found that the businesses required some assistance in order to be able to generate enough money to honour the installments. Such businesses were assisted with other non-financial assistance where they were linked with business opportunities where they operated. The NYDA also looked to bring in the services of debt collectors.
Mr Ainslie asked for progress on recovering the amount reported to the executive authority.
Mr Ramukumba replied there were regular engagements at management level. The NYDA produced a portfolio exit report monthly on the operations of the executive management committee. The report would be provided regularly to the committee for continuous assessment and monitoring of the loan book and recoverability strategies that the NYDA used.
Mr Ainslie commented that the Annual Report indicated that the NYDA board took a decision to discontinue loan funding, and this would be replaced by micro-grant funding. He sought clarity on whether the NYDA would now be handing cash directly to beneficiaries? With loans, there was a possibility of recovering the amounts through legal means. Could the officials elaborate on this process, and give the Committee an assurance that this would not be a simple case of handing out sums of money.
Mr Yershen Pillay, NYDA Executive Chairman, said the shift from loans to grants was strategic. This was not simply handing out money; R25 million had been allocated to support a minimum of 500, and a maximum of 37 000 applicants. There would be a thorough screening process that would involve a three-day entrepreneurship workshop prior to money being disbursed. This process involved pre and post mentorship. There would be a 24 month hand-holding period for the young entrepreneur after money had been disbursed. The shift was in line with NYDA’s mandate that as a development agency, and not a bank, it be afforded an opportunity to take risk. Given the low culture of entrepreneurship among young people, taking such risks could only benefit society in the future.
Mr Ainslie asked if the NYDA had looked at the option of paying directly to suppliers as opposed to availing hard cash to the beneficiary.
Mr Pillay replied the grants targeted those who had an intention to start a business and those at the early stage of entrepreneurial activity. The programme was linked to the loan programme of the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). The aim was to really target those who started small. The NYDA would not simply allocate direct funding and in most instances it would be directed to the young entrepreneur.
Ms Makaula clarified that in trying to curb reckless use of the grant money, the NYDA would request quotations of equipment that the business would require. The NYDA would look at the quotations, and follow the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) processes. If the NYDA could, it would avoid transferring directly into the bank account of the young people. In instances where a young person would be looking for capital investments to start up shops, then the NYDA would transfer directly into their accounts. But generally, a determination was simply made on case by case.
Mr Ainslie commented that the NYDA repeatedly made the material misstatements. This was not the first time this had happened; why did this happen? Could the delegation indicate if it had daily processes to ensure that there were complete and accurate accounts? He pleaded that the officials give the Committee comfort that this finding would not be happening again. The AG characterised these irregular material misstatements as being financially impaired.
Mr Ramukumba replied the NYDA acknowledged the finding and had been working hard to address it. There had been capacity issues that had since been looked at and people were trained wherever necessary. The finance unit had been restructured to ensure people were better placed to be used by the entity. There was an intention to ensure compliance with the PFMA and the accounting standards. The recommendations of the AG had been noted and adopted. The most vital one was the monthly compilation of the full financial statements.
Mr Ainslie asked if this was a concession that monthly reconciliations were not done at NYDA until now.
Mr Ramukumba replied to the negative and said these were done. The challenge with the errors had been that the compilation of the annual statements had in the past been left to the end of the financial year. Such an exercise would be prone to errors. The lesson from this situation was that management needed to be a lot more proactive. The financial statements would be prepared monthly. He was confident that it was the last time the Committee dealt with the matter.
Mr Ainslie sought clarity on expenditure management. Irregular expenditure had been reduced from R133 million to R62 million. He warned the NYDA should not pat itself on the back, because nowhere in the PFMA was it stated that irregular expenditure could be reduced by portions. The PFMA said “entities should take steps to prevent irregular expenditure”. That there was a reduction was not good enough. Irregular expenditure stood at R62 million, but also there had been no disciplinary action against transgressors. Why was this so, because the PFMA said people should be held accountable?
Mr Ramukumba agreed that the reduction from R133 to R62 million was not good enough and that had been acknowledged. What the report contained was not patting or celebrating, just that the NYDA was noting progress. The ultimate goal from management was to achieve clean governance through completely eradicating irregular expenditure. The irregular expenditure resulted from a number of factors including contracts that could not be exited from the time of uMsobomvu.
Terminating such contracts beforehand would have legal ramifications. A decision was taken to allow the contracts run their period and, once they concluded, then the NYDA would follow the correct procurement procedures as required by Treasury regulations and the PFMA. The NYDA had prepared a report, detailing breakdown of transactions that contributed to irregular expenditure. Executive managers responsible for the divisions where irregular expenditure occurred would then be asked to explain, and failure to do so would result in disciplinary action.
Mr Ainslie sought clarity on whether the R62 million was for the past year or part of it was incurred during the time of the uMsobomvu.
Mr Ramukumba replied that indeed the money was for 2012/13 and did not include the amounts from uMsobomvu era. All the other prior years would be cleared once Treasury had provided a condonement. Treasury had requested some details on some of the transactions and that had since been done.
Mr Ainslie interjected and said the official needed not emphasise condonement. The Committee was not in favour of that process. While there was nothing on irregular expenditure, at least the report contained some detail on fruitful and wasteful expenditure. He sought clarity on the wasteful expenditure relating to offices in George and the annual penalties to the South African Revenue Service (SARS); why had these occurred? He lamented the fact that there seemed to be not a single transgressor who was punished.
Mr Ramukumba replied the effective steps to prevent irregular expenditure were already being implemented.
The Chairperson interjected and wanted to know why the preventative measures had not been in place.
Mr Ramukumba replied when the NYDA started there was a leadership vacuum in the financial unit for a period longer than a year. Policies were there; but the lack of leadership resulted in the non-compliance culture.
The Chairperson pointed out that there was management.
Mr Ramukumba replied an Acting CFO was appointed prior to his joining the institution but still the required level of skill was not there. This was the matter that had to be addressed as well as the issue of policies. The new leadership had to ensure compliance to Treasury regulations and the PFMA. Those had been implemented; on the monthly reporting in the current 2013/14 financial year, irregular expenditure sat at R4 million. The commitment was to manage irregular expenditure with an intention to completely eradicate it.
Mr Ainslie commented that the NYDA needed to hold people to account for irregular expenditure, and the fruitless and wasteful expenditure.
Mr Ramukumba clarified that when the NYDA was started, the intention was to have its offices in all provinces. The mistake committed was that a five-year rental agreement was entered into with the owner in anticipation of additional funding from Treasury, but that had not happened. The contract had already been signed. The NYDA had investigated options of terminating, but that was decided against because it would be far too expensive. The contract would be allowed to run its course. The NYDA did not use the premises as it lacked funding to operate there.
The Chairperson sought clarity on whether the amount was interest or rental.
Mr Ramukumba replied it was rental.
The Chairperson asked who signed the contract.
Mr Ramukumba replied the contract was signed by the former CEO of uMsobomvu who acted as CEO of the NYDA momentarily.
The Chairperson wondered aloud “young people!”
The Deputy Minister clarified that other intervention to fight fruitful and wasteful expenditure was sourcing expertise from Treasury’s technical unit to help normalise and build capacity and systems that would ensure such incidents of wasteful expenditure would not occur.
Mr Ainslie commented that the Committee was disappointed with the lack of detail on irregular expenditure. There was some detail on the fruitful and wasteful expenditure. He requested that a written report of the irregular expenditure be availed. He sought confirmation that indeed no sanction had been taken against anyone.
Mr Pillay replied when the new board was appointed on 01 April, one of the key principles the NYDA wanted to achieve was excellence – that meant a clean audit report in future. The NYDA added capacity to the audit committee when it came in. The audit committee was requested to carry more audits but also the internal audit team was strengthened. Apart from appointing a senior manager for supply chain management (SCM), the NYDA had also introduced a social ethics committee to improve ethics. The board had undertaken corrective measures against the CEO, and that process was still pending.
Mr Ainslie pointed out that the report singled out the suspended CEO for unilaterally converting an amount of R13.1 million from loans to grants.
Mr Pillay replied there was an inquiry into the matter.
Mr Ainslie asked if there were not checks and balances to prevent individuals from doing this kind of thing (converting loans to grants).
Mr Pillay replied as part of the new management, cultural change was required at the NYDA in terms of the work ethos.
Ms S Mangena (ANC) sought clarity on why a board was appointed after 11 months had lapsed in the term of office they were meant to serve. How confident was the NYDA on debt collectors successfully recouping the money. She was worried about this process particularly because debt collectors would expect to be paid.
Mr Ramukumba replied the NYDA supported a model where debt collectors would be paid a commission on the basis of what they had collected. But the process would be subjected to competitive bidding.
The Chairperson reminded the official that at the beginning of the meeting an indication was that some of the young people indebted to the NYDA, were solvent. What would the NYDA be collecting?
Mr Ramukumba replied it had been established that some of the young people, especially those that were lent sums of up to R5 million during the days of uMsobomvu, had established businesses. This was the category that the NYDA would be pursuing vigorously. But also reports would be given to the board on those that nothing could be recouped. Some of the loans would have to be written off, but if a situation where some of the people were no longer trading but on personal wealth could afford to pay back, that would be considered.
The Deputy Minister replied Parliament appointed the NYDA board, and was best placed to answer the question on why 11 months was allowed to lapse before appointing a new board. When the vacancies were four months due for filling, a notice was given to Parliament.
The Chairperson asked if it was not the fact that people had been identified and awaited the Chairperson
The Deputy Minister replied the delays were precisely because of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) not processing speedily the matter. Parliament was also litigated by those who felt aggrieved by not making it onto the board, resulting in the process being stalled to allow for a public hearing. That was a frustrating time, but once that process had been finalised, DPME was able to appoint the chairperson and the deputy chairperson.
Dr D George (DA) commented that the process of writing off the loans as elaborated sounded too risky. What processes were put in place to ensure that the loans did not get to individuals with suspect business plans but well connected within the NYDA. What controls were in place to ensure that something like that did not arise?
Mr Pillay replied the NYDA had stopped loan-funding and it would not be dealing with it into the future. The new grant system was structured in a manner that allowed two committees at a branch level; 14 branches across the country would be established. The process was such that branches would have branch committees chaired by project managers who were highly skilled technocrats.
The Chairperson wanted to know the kind of skills these people possessed.
Mr Pillay replied these were general management skills.
The Chairperson said management could be many things, and he sought further clarity.
Mr Pillay replied the defined criteria for branch managers was requisite qualifications over and above the bachelor’s degree. There was another host of other criteria that candidates had to meet. There was another process at head office chaired by the service delivery executive. This was quite a lengthy human resource process. The new Board was confident it was appointing the right people.
Dr George asked commented that it was a good idea to have the right people into place. What processes were in place to test this, but also what testing would there be to ensure something did not go wrong with the grants?
Mr Ramukumba replied the grant funding was implemented as a suite and one of the requirements was that the beneficiary be allocated a mentor. The mentor would conduct constant monitoring of the business entity of the person, and the NYDA would expect monthly and quarterly reports on the business activity of the person. An incubation period of 24 months had been designed and all the grant programme would be receiving the hand-holding assistance. Beneficiaries would be provided with additional requirement as they might require.
Dr George asked why everybody got bonuses, given that the report had indicated that governance improvements were required. The approach to pay bonuses seemed too laissez-faire. What was the criteria to pay bonuses? He also sought clarity on the other expenses reflected on the report.
Mr Ramukumba replied other expense allowances were reimbursements given to employees when they had used their own funds to undertake NYDA activities.
Ms Makaula replied performance bonuses were paid on the basis of a performance management contract agreed upon with the employee. It was not uncommon at NYDA to get bonuses; staff got an increase of 5.6% as part of the bargaining process. One would then sign a performance management contract, and upon presenting an evidence portfolio of the work done, such a person was awarded a bonus.
Dr George observed that financial executive managers got bonuses despite the governance issues that were there at the entity. He asked if their bonuses were cut in light of what they achieved, or failed to achieve.
Ms Makaula replied bonuses got cut from 25% to 17% for the current year. Indeed there was a reduction on what was paid out. The more executive managers failed to meet targets, the more stringent the cuts would get.
Dr George quoted a R113 000 figure that was quoted on Other Expenses and asked if the officials could cite one example of what the officials would be reimbursed for.
Mr Ramukumba cited the example of the service delivery channel executive head who used his own vehicle to attend to NYDA business.
The Chairperson sought confirmation of whether this was more of a travelling reimbursement, and jibed that he noted the CFO travelled a lot himself.
Mr Ramukumba retorted “no; it was not a lot”.
Dr P Rabie (DA) sought clarity on the review of the SCM policies that was undertaken in the year in question. It would seem that the SCM was not in order at the entity.
Mr Pillay replied SCM matters were raised when the new Board took office. The management was tasked with constructively reviewing the SCM policies, in that where capacity challenges were found an appointment of a senior manager would be allowed. In case of the SCM unit, a senior manager had just been appointed. The audit committee was also tasked with looking at this matter.
Ms Rachel Kalidass, NYDA Audit Committee Chairperson, replied that paragraph the Member had referred to related to the processes of the CEO. There were two contracts that were investigated relating to SCM processes being flawed. The AG was merely expressing an opinion to that matter. Unfortunately, due to the pending disciplinary hearings, there was not much detail provided in the report.
The audit committee had ensured that internal controls within the organisation were being reviewed. It was important that all the policies were updated at the NYDA, so as to ensure that the internal audit was capacitated. An outside service provider had been appointed for this service to ensure the internal audit at NYDA was correctly skilled.
The Chairperson said in a sense the NYDA had not capacitated the internal audit unit, but had just outsourced the function.
Ms Kalidass replied according to the contracting arrangement, the service provider would work with the internal employees with an intention to build skills in specialist areas.
Dr Rabie pointed out that his question on the outcome of the investigations had not been answered.
Ms Kalidass replied the specific outcome was documented in the review report. This was the report that was used as the basis for the suspension of the CEO, as well as the resulting disciplinary processes. She said it would be difficult to go into the details of the matter given the pending legal matters with the CEO.
The Chairperson asked if there were legal matters pending with the CEO.
Mr Pillay replied the enquiry continued.
The Chairperson said he had thought the NYDA had dismissed him.
The Deputy Minister replied the board indeed took a decision to dismiss him. Then the CEO approached the Labour Court which reinstated him in his status quo. The NYDA was not appealing, but it intended pursuing the matter through a public hearing which was a case before the expulsion. This was the reason the matter remained sub judice
The Chairperson asked if there was any validity in the rumour that the NYDA was not represented in court.
The Deputy Minister replied this was not correct.
Ms T Chiloane (ANC) sought clarity on the investigations that according to the report had been concluded internally and handed over to the law enforcement agencies.
Mr Ramukumba replied this was a separate matter to the CEO issue. It related to loans issued, where employees had colluded with beneficiaries. The matter had been concluded internally and was referred to the SAPS.
Ms Chiloane asked if anyone had been suspended as a result, or whether the NYDA awaited SAPS to conclude the investigations.
Mr Ramukumba replied there were no suspensions. One staffer who had been fingered in the report, resigned from the NYDA; another one was in the process of being a state witness in the police investigations. But SAPS was handling the matter.
Ms Chiloane commented that she hoped the NYDA would be able to recover the money from the official who had resigned.
The Chairperson pointed out that the other employee who turned state witness was, and should, not be immune to internal disciplinary processes.
Ms Chiloane sought clarity on the Public Protector investigations into the world youth festival – a week-long event hosted by the NYDA in 2010, famously referred to as the “Kissing Festival”; over R20 million was spent on the event. Where was that process?
Mr Pillay replied that the sooner the matter was concluded by the Public Protector, the better for the NYDA. The NYDA had complied and submitted all the documents that were required from it. The Public Protector had indicated at a suitable time the report would be tabled.
Ms Chiloane requested an update progress once the matter had been finalised. She sought clarity on Procurement and contracts management. Could the officials speak to the abuse of the SCM systems? The report highlighted the contravention of Treasury regulations by not sending out the processes for competitive bidding. Some bidders submitted false information intending to defraud the entity.
Mr Ramukumba replied that SCM was affected by the same challenges. He cited contracts that were entered into by the previous board, and said the NYDA still incurred losses on some of those. Often for issues that were urgent, the entity did not necessarily go out to tender. And the finding related to such matters. An improvement in this regard was being undertaken. The delegation policy at the NYDA had somewhat been reconfigured to include both the CEO and the CFO on approvals for deviations. In future the NYDA would ensure all the legislation that regulated the competitive bidding process would be complied with.
Ms Chiloane requested that written report with regards to the individuals who awarded suspect or irregularly done contracts be availed to the Committee within two weeks. This would give Members a sense of those who defrauded the public purse. It was only fair that from time to time people were mentioned by name.
Mr Ramukumba replied the report on the nature of the transactions would be availed within the two week period. The issues much related to the design of the bid specifications. He outlined the process of how specifications were arrived at.
Ms Chiloane asked if the issues emanating from the Annual Report around contracts and funds misappropriation led the board to act against the CEO. Who else was involved in terms of financial governance?
Mr Pillay replied some of the information contained in the Annual Report was part of the presentation to the board, and indeed it constituted part of the disciplinary enquiry. He could not say the NYDA was or would act against any other employee.
Ms G Saal (ANC) commented that the NYDA was a good entity. She said it was not clear when the decision to shift from loans to grants was taken. She said it concerned her that the entity appeared to be based mainly in Gauteng, much to the disadvantage of the rural areas. She asked if there were outreach programmes intended for rural areas.
Mr Pillay replied the decision was taken around May 2013 at a strategic planning. He said the NYDA had local offices all over and had a rural development strategy in place. The strategy detailed exactly how the entity would reach out to rural areas. Outreach to rural areas had been raised with the Appropriations Committee especially as it related to Mbashe Municipality in the Eastern Cape and the cost of setting up offices. Given the financial situation of the NYDA it was difficult to get into partnerships with municipalities.
Mr S Mfundisi (UCDP) commented that the report was unqualified with matters of emphasis and that was not good enough. What was the board promising going forward? He also sought clarity on the board’s failure not provided the National Credit Regulator with a report. How would the NYDA be rectifying this situation to ensure that in future this did not occur?
Mr Pillay replied when the incoming board took charge, it committed to reposition the NYDA as a capable agency, that would ensure it empowered young people. Three things would be focussed on when undertaking that task, compliance, performance and enterprise. The NYDA was committed to this and would make the best use of the resources at its disposal. This would be a process that would take long because the NYDA was a large institution. This work required partnerships in the long run.
Mr Ramukumba clarified that the issues around the National Credit Act had been addressed in the current financial year. Each division within the NYDA should give additional responsibilities to one of the staff member to ensure that all the laws applicable to their activities were monitored on daily basis. There was now continuous monitoring.
Mr Ainslie commented that the findings of the AG indicated there was inadequate monitoring by the board. The board could not only rely on the CFO and the CEO; it needed to take active steps in ensuring compliance with the SCM policies. It would seem that the board had adopted a hands off approach. He asked for a comment.
Mr Pillay replied he agreed fully, and thus steps had been taken to address the challenges at board level.
The Chairperson interjected and sought clarity on Mr Pillay’s title “Executive Chairperson of the Board”. What did that that mean?
Mr Pillay replied there were strategic and operational functions that he, and the Deputy Chairperson, performed.
The Chairperson said the title was crucial in relation to the comment that had been made. It should not be a hands-off approach.
Mr Ainslie replied there was lack of accountability and unwillingness to punish transgressors at the NYDA. Somebody should be responsible for these things, and there was none. The board should ensure people were held accountable. He sought a comment.
Mr Pillay replied the comment was noted and welcomed.
Mr Ainslie commented it appeared there was a general lack of understanding and proper application of the law (the PFMA). This had been ongoing for the past three financial years; this was not good enough. The board should take active steps to ensure everybody in the organisation understood and applied the law.
Mr Pillay replied they understood the law, and this was the reason they were appointed.
The Chairperson commented that the Committee by nature looked at issues retrospectively and therefore would have an interest in the investigation by the Public Protector into the world youth festival. The interest of the Committee was how resources were managed. The board and the current management at the NYDA had a responsibility to improve the image of the organisation. When the organisation asked for more money from Treasury, it should be to ensure improvements. It was critical that no old man could be blamed for not addressing the needs of young people when they themselves failed to do it on their own. This was a responsibility that the emphasis had to be placed on.
The expectation was that there had to be accountability; Members understood the challenges associated with assisting young people who lacked experience and security. Truth was that those who had security would rather go to the bank than to the NYDA. The risk factor challenge was real but the question ought to be how the risk factor did not translate into the reason for money being looted. All officials should keep this in mind in an attempt to ensure that the NYDA contributed to the better life for all.
The Deputy Minister said much emphasis had been placed on leadership. The issues raised at the Committee required action. The loan book would remain for a long time, but the point about regular reporting had been well received. It was also acknowledged that frequent reporting would be difficult because the NYDA dealt with down trodden and high risk beneficiaries. The entity had been mandated to address that challenge. The Department and management of the NYDA would attend to the issues that had been raised and the information that had been required would be sent.
The meeting was adjourned.
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