National Treasury (NT) briefed the Committee in detail on the Appropriation Bill, noting that the passing of a Division of Revenue Act was a requirement of the Constitution, to set out the equitable division of nationally raised revenue among the three spheres of government. The first part of the briefing covered the recommendations that had been made by Parliament, together with an indication of what NT had done or was planning to address those recommendations. Particular highlights included the scheduling and implementation of the Rural Household Infrastructure Grant (which, as later noted, would be discussed in the following week with the Department of Human Settlements, the collapsing of three health grants into one grant with three components, to allow for more flexibility in shifting of funds, which would no longer require to be gazetted, and the particular emphasis on sanitation, with NT acknowledging that it needed to find out exactly how many households were still using the bucket sanitation system, including houses that, when initially built, were never linked to sanitation, and devise appropriate plans. NT was monitoring and assessing the consequences of migration between provinces, which would affect provincial equitable shares, although the local government allocations were more difficult to assess. Municipalities would be urged to make use of statistics that were readily available from Statistics SA in their integrated development planning. NT suggested that perhaps the criteria for “Operation clean Audit” should be revised to refer to “unqualified” rather than “clean” audits. A new grant worth R300 million per year was introduced in this budget, to assist the metros to build capacity for devolution of Human Settlements functions. There were conditional and transitional grants to assist municipalities affected by the demarcation process. NT would be trying to ensure that mandates were not unfunded, with allocations following function. NT was directly monitoring 17 municipalities, with Provincial Treasuries monitoring the rest. Municipalities were being asked to increase the percentage of money allocated to repairs and maintenance and in health and education, NT would ask for 50% of infrastructure allocations to be put to maintenance.
The main changes to the Division of Revenue Bill in this year were summarised as entrenching better planning in the provincial infrastructure programme (with incentives being used to ensure that this was actually now being done), alignment of grants in a way that would allow for faster and more inclusive growth in city economies. The role of indirect grants was grown, with some grants having both a direct and indirect component, such as the health grants, and the new grants were described. Finally, there was emphasis again on the efforts to prioritise the eradication of bucket sanitation systems. Each of these changes was described in detail.
The recommendations of the Financial and Fiscal Commission, and how National Treasury had responded to them, were then summarised. They included a recommendation that the growth in public sector wages must be moderated, which was addressed in the budget, with greater focus also on efficiency and strengthening the capabilities of the state. The efficacy of conditional grants was being reviewed, and NT was also trying to build capacity in relation to transfers from national departments. FFC stressed the need to find an appropriate balance between the wage and non-wage spending, with more attention being paid to headcount issues and setting norms for provincial performance. Integrated planning was stressed.
Members asked about the levels of support and how NT was offering support and what forms it took. One Member stressed that provincial departments and treasuries must be prepared to agree to holding meetings by video-conference in order to save costs and traveling time. Members appreciated the principle that planning must be done two years in advance but wondered how NT would monitor that, what consequences would follow if it was not done, an said that officials had to be trained how to plan, with the impact of the training to be measured. Members raised a number of questions on the human settlements grants, including how much was going to rectification, provincial figures, the role of the National Homebuilders Registration Council, the need to debate the Rural Households Infrastructure Grant and its scheduling in more detail, how the change from direct to indirect grants would be triggered, and whether it was not possible to reduce the number of grants but achieve greater efficiency of spending. Members asked about the funding models for municipalities, what district municipalities should be doing and whether the incentives were not likely to lead to lead to larger gaps as some municipalities were simply not efficient enough to access them. The credibility of IDPs was still a problem. Members questioned the links between Strategic Integrated Projects and the IDPs, and the role of the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission. Several questions related to staffing and qualifications of local government officials in particular, whether they were absorbing and benefiting from training, whether staffing matched organograms, high personnel payments and whether minimum competency standards should not be set out. One Member stressed the need to achieve value for money and more emphasis on technical skills, while another said that oversight capacity must also be boosted. Members asked about the performance of indirect grants over the last few years, whether the Occupation Specific Dispensation was working in its current form, wondered whether local government was really trying to implement the National Development Plan, and whether the NT was giving sufficient weight to the recommendations from Parliament. The position of SALGA was questioned and Members said that it was necessary to be clear as to what NT should be, and was doing.
Appropriation Bill B4-2014: National Treasury briefing
The Chairperson welcomed the team from National Treasury, as well as the Chairpersons of the Free State, Limpopo and North West Provincial Legislature committees on finance.
Ms Malijeni Ngqaleni, Deputy Director General, National Treasury, said that the passing of a Division of Revenue Act (DoRA), was a requirement of the Constitution. It set out the equitable division of nationally raised revenue among the three spheres of government. It had to be tabled in the National Assembly (NA) and National Council of Provinces (NCOP). The Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act noted that a report must be tabled that explained how recommendations by Parliamentary committees had been taken into account.
She said that a large part of her presentation would cover the responses of government to recommendations made by the Standing and Select Committees on Appropriation, and the major changes that were being effected by this year’s Appropriation Bill (the Bill). In her presentation, the new, changed or additional wording was marked in red.
The first recommendations related to the implementation of the Municipal Water Infrastructure Grant (MWIG). The Committees had recommended that measures must be put in place to ensure participation of South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) and affected municipalities. The Minister of Finance had written to the Minister of Water and Environmental Affairs and the National Treasury (NT) had established a consultation structure to aid management of the MWIG. From 2014/15, this grant would have direct and indirect components to try to address some of the capacity shortfalls in the municipalities.
In response to the recommendation that NT must put in place measures to ensure that rollovers were finalised and approved by the first quarter of the financial year, Ms Ngqaleni noted that the Appropriation Act was normally assented to in November, so although there was not formal authority to spend, there was some flexibility built into the process.
NT had been asked to submit a report on strategies and measures to ensure that provinces were able to meet the requirements of the new infrastructure grant system and planning criteria, within 90 days. That report had been submitted, and provisions for the second year of reforms were included in the 2014 Bill.
NT had been asked to consult with the Department of Human Settlements (DHS) and South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and to submit a report within 60 days on a direct Rural Household Infrastructure Grant (RHIG), to improve expenditure and service delivery. A report was submitted on 27 May, which outlined the past performance and reasons for conversion of RHIG to a direct grant. During the budget adjustments process, however, the indirect part was reintroduced. In the current year, RHIG would have both a direct and indirect component and there was flexibility to allow for shifting of money between the two components. NT was asked to submit quarterly expenditure and non financial performance reports in accordance with the Division of Revenue Act (DoRA) 2013/14. The Minister of Finance appreciated the close monitoring by the Committees. The spending on the RHIG should have started in this quarter, but the transfers were delayed due to incorrect gazetting, and the first report would be submitted after the current quarter.
In relation to priorities in provincial and municipal budgets, NT had been asked to encourage provinces and municipalities to reflect the weighting that they attached to each component in the equitable share formula, as well as government priorities. The Minister of Finance had agreed that provincial and municipal budgets should reflect national priorities. Although it was also acknowledged that the equitable share may not be uniformly or rigidly applied. NT did examine the budgets to benchmark them, and check whether they were responsive to national priorities. Any shortcomings would be conveyed to the MECs and Minister.
Compliance with construction industry best practice would be measured by NT, as recommended, and although the draft regulations drawn in December 2012 had not yet been approved, NT would submit a report showing the extent to which provinces had complied with these standards and guidelines. The 2016/17 forward planning would be running in this year, and that also would give an indication of compliance.
In regard to the Health Grants, Ms Ngqaleni reported that all health grants had now been compiled into one grant, with three components, and this was done, with full support from the National Department of Health (NDOH) to ensure that funds could be shifted as necessary between the revitalization, infrastructure and nurses training components, to try to avoid rollovers. The changes made to the Bill advanced this also by removing the requirement that any changes be gazetted prior to shifting funding.
NT was asked to ensure that shifting funds away from the Municipal Infrastructure Grant (MIG) would not compromise the need to address the current backlogs in sanitation. NT accepted that water and sanitation were key priorities. Funds were shifted out of MIG in 2013 to accelerate delivery of water infrastructure, through the MWIG. In the current year, an indirect grant was being created to eliminate the bucket system which had still never been solved in some areas. The new grant was created from the Housing Grant, because sometimes houses were built without installation of toilets.
NT was asked to ensure that the Devolution of Property Rates Funds Grant objectives would not be compromised by phasing into the provincial equitable share. NT believed that the billing was now more accurate, and NT and Department of Public Works (DPW) would continue to monitor the situation.
NT had been asked to monitor and assess any unintended consequences of the declining equitable shares due to population movements, when it had updated the formula following the 2011 census. To ensure that there was sufficient time for planning a response, NT had introduced a three-year phase-in process, and would stabilize the allocations to provinces losing populations so that they would use those three years to align their spending to the reduced allocations.
NT must also look into alternatives to minimise the impact of increased costs that were due to the unique situation in some areas. Ms Ngqaleni explained that other grant mechanisms already did something similar – for instance, the Provincial Roads Grant took into consideration typology and distance, and similar considerations could apply to allocate different costs to different municipalities.
Both NT and other departments had been asked to improve their monitoring of the provision of Free Basic Services (FBS) to the poor, and to monitor whether municipalities provided proper service delivery and budget implementation plans. The new Local Government Equitable Share (LGES) formula provided more transparency. There was funding for all the poor beyond a certain benchmark. The reporting system now included a mechanism to enable the municipalities to note how many people they were reaching, what proportion of the poor this represented, the extent of FBS they were providing, and whether this was in line with benchmarking. FBS reporting would become more standardised.
Ms Ngqaleni then turned to Operation Clean Audit, noting that both NT was to provide support to municipalities while the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) was to report, in a coordinated manner, in order to improve municipalities’ capacity for good financial management that would allow them to achieve clean audits. The two Ministers had discussed the issues, and there was more emphasis now being placed on the planning in order to reach the desired end result. Supply chain planning must reflect procurement strategies. An Office of Chief Procurement Officer was now operative.
In relation to the education sector, NT had been asked to support the sector to improve its spending. Capacity was being put in place, and incentives would embed the technical support and financial systems that had gradually been introduced over the last ten years, with continued training in understanding management systems. This applied to both national and provincial levels. Specifically for the Further Education and Training (FET) college sector, NT would develop and implement mechanisms to ensure that baseline funding requirements were in place for the successful transfer of funding from FETs, following the shift in function. A special committee would be set up in 2014, to coordinate between provincial departments.
In relation to local government, NT was correcting the allocation of two municipal grants, as set out in the slide presentation. It was also reviewing the progress of direct and indirect grants, in conjunction with the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and there was a review of Local Government Infrastructure Grants, both direct and indirect.
With regard to the human settlements function the Parliamentary committees had called for capacity support, to ensure devolvement of that function to the six metros. A new grant worth R300 million per year was introduced in this budget, to assist the metros to build capacity.
Ms Ngqaleni mentioned that the Rural Households Infrastructure Grant (RHIG) was to be considered for rescheduling, from a direct to indirect grant. The 2014 budget contained both direct and indirect allocations.
The budget clearly indicated that the escalation of costs of the public service had to be curtailed, and although these costs were still growing over the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) the rate of growth would slow, falling from 35.4% in 2014/15, to 34% in 2015/16. She pointed out that the costs were rising due to inflation but achieving a decrease in rate was a major objective of government.
NT fully supported and was aiming to fulfil the request by Parliament that grant designs, capacity, monitoring and evaluations must be continuously improved, to ensure effective and efficient spending.
NT had been requested to ensure that when it approved any rollovers, the departments would provide proof of plans and capacity to spend. It was noted that expenditure levels were now taken into account when considering the rollover requests.
In relation to withholding grants due to poor performance, Parliament asked that NT regard withholding as the absolute last resort, and Ms Ngqaleni confirmed that this was done, since NT would hold extensive consultations and asked the entities to offer reasons why the grants should not be withheld.
There were conditional and transitional grants to assist municipalities affected by the demarcation process, and COGTA was coordinating a process with NT and SALGA to determine what type of support was needed for these municipalities.
Overall there was a principle that national and provincial spheres should continue to support and strengthen municipalities. NT noted that support was provided through various municipal capacity grants, and there was also a City Support Programme, starting with the metros because they had different needs.
NT had been asked to stipulate where appropriate payment schedules were part of the 2013 DoRB. Each grant now indicated how many instalments would flow. Detailed payment schedules were determined by 31 March for the provinces and by 30 June for the municipalities.
NT had been asked to ensure that allocations of funding followed function and capacity to perform functions. Ms Ngqaleni said that this related to unfunded mandates, where municipalities might be asked to perform a function that actually belonged to another sphere. NT had agreed to do this and said that FFC was also helping to look into the matters. At the provincial sphere it would ensure that allocation of funding followed function.
Parliament had asked that NT, in collaboration with Provincial Treasuries (PT), should continue to monitor and support municipalities to ensure that their budgets for infrastructure repairs and maintenance were adequate. NT directly monitored 17 municipalities, and PTs monitored the rest. NT had recommended that 8% of total operational expenditure should be budgeted for maintenance. Over the last few years, municipalities had generally increased the percentage allocated to repairs, from 1% to 4%. For the provinces, NT was focusing on the maintenance and infrastructure grants for roads. It had asked the health and education departments to put 50% of their infrastructure allocations to maintenance.
NT was supporting the PTs to help provinces improve on their projections and expenditure controls. This was done through benchmarking and individual support and monitoring. Technical and political engagements were facilitated through the Technical Committee on Finance and the Budget Council. NT would ensure that it supported capacity building.
Division of Revenue Bill (DoRB): National Treasury briefing
Ms Ngqaleni tabled a slide that indicated how the Division of Revenue Bill (DoRB or the Bill) was set out, across 40 sections. The first seven schedules formed part of the Division of Revenue Act, once the Bill had been passed. She explained the grants (see attached presentation) and said that these also formed part of the Act. The Explanatory Memorandum would fall away. The Conditional Grant Frameworks would be gazetted once the Bill became an Act.
She then summarised the key policy and cross-cutting issues. The Bill remained largely the same as in previous years. Usually, revisions were due to specific policy adjustments. In this year, there were four main changes:
- the Bill institutionalised better planning in the provincial infrastructure programme
- the Bill laid the foundations for faster and more inclusive growth in city economies, through aligning grants
- the role of indirect grants was grown, through differentiated systems
- there were efforts across all spheres to prioritise the eradication of bucket sanitation
Clauses were also introduced to ease administration of the grants.
Incentives approach to provincial infrastructure grants
Ms Ngqaleni describe the incentive approach that had been taken towards provincial infrastructure grants. The incentive approach focused on planning – not just having an idea of what was to be delivered, but also then planning a procurement strategy and a proper thinking-through of the projects. NT wanted to avoid a situation where a budget would be allocated before any planning had taken place. That should address the challenge of ensuring not only that spending increased, but that value – in terms of cost and quantity – was maximised. Although, in the past, there had already been a requirement that provinces should do their planning two years in advance, this had not been followed, so in this year, incentives were introduced in an attempt to ensure that the requirements were actually followed. The Health and Education sector allocations would be determined against their responses on the planning requirements in 2013. There were some provinces and departments who had not complied fully with the planning requirements, and they would not get all the allocations. However, in order to ensure that this would not impact on their delivery, they had to account for exactly how far they had gone in the ongoing projects. An amount had been unallocated in the past year, and in this year, the provinces would have to compete to receive that amount, by producing proper plans. All the allocations for projects that would start in the 2016/17 year had to be supported by plans drawn in the 2014/15 year. Provinces were also being given support. Ms Ngqaleni stressed that this was not a new requirement; the system had been in place for ten years, but this year focused on forcing implementation. She tabled a timeline diagram, and said that in 2014, the departments must now come up with “packages” with design and support and procurement plans. Allocations would remain in the sector so that they could be accessed by provinces that were ready to implement, whilst other provinces may need more time to get themselves running.
Ms Ngqaleni noted again that the Health grant now longer had components, and although it was more fully set out in the slides, she did not dwell on this point.
Grants geared to economic growth
Ms Samantha Naidu, Cities Support Programme, NT, spoke to the importance of cities and metros to economic growth. Currently, urban economies were underperforming. Where there was performance and growth, it was uneven and still was exclusionary, partially due to inherited spatial patterns that favoured one area over others. Constraints included the structure or spatial forms, systemic challenges of fragmented authority and inconsistent investment that resulted in poor returns from public investments, and poor coordination and lack of certainty about authorities. There were also governance challenges, weak partnerships for delivery, and limited leverage of private investment both in households and the private sector. There were no new resources being made available. In order to deal with spatial inefficiencies, there was a need to do more with the same resources. The National Development Plan said that urban sprawl had to be contained and possibly reversed, as denser forms of development were more efficient, and major concentrations of urban poor must be linked to the mainstream of city life.
The DoRB attempted to respond to these, through different infrastructure grants, although provincial government and municipalities contributed their own funds. However, the current planning regime did not allow for integrated cities. If they were planning more strategically, the billions invested could affect the nature of development and change. In the 2013/14 year, metros had budgeted R28.6 billion for infrastructure but the impact of the spending was not translating into spatial transformation or efficiency in infrastructure and services.
A new clause had therefore been inserted into the current DoRB, to institutionalize the “built environment performance plan” of spatial development. Metros were to submit council-approved plans to summarise how the infrastructure programmes would be developed. The plans must also cover projects funded by the metro, the Urban Settlement Development Grant (USDG) , the Public Transport Infrastructure Grant (PTIG) and the Neighbourhood Development Partnership Grant (NDPG). In previous years, the USDG was linked to the Built Environment Performance Plan (BEPP), but it was now linked to a range of other plans. The BEPP was not statutory, but it tried to bridge the gap and to change spatial development. It was also being used to try to focus on spatial targets and integration. At the moment, there were no synergies for integrated development and planning.
In the 2013 year, the Integrated City Development Grant (ICDG) had been introduced to ensure that more integrated planning was done at city level. In the 2014 DoRB, R356 million was added to this grant, to incentivise the planning and start more integrated projects. The BEPP was now a specific requirement. The allocation of the grant to the cities would depend on whether they met certain criteria, particularly around governance, and there were attempts to replicate the provincial performance in the city sphere. There was also an incentive aspect for if they achieved certain targets, this would determine their allocation for the following year. The funds could be used in integration zones, and over time, the grant would need to be sufficiently high to motivate the desired behaviour, since at the moment cities were saying that the monetary value was not sufficiently high to give them any incentives, which was why it was now being linked to a “suite” of other grants. NT realised that it would take time to capacitate municipalities to understand the purpose and impact of the grants. Input had been made by the FFC.
A Project Preparation Facility was introduced as well, to allow for a pipeline of projects that the grant could respond to. Many ways of support and intervention were required. A diagram was shown of prioritisation and investment targeting. Municipal synergies must be created, for instance to link transport investments to housing, and to prioritise.
Ms Naidu described the interventions at municipal level to try to improve capacity. The City Support Programme tried to assist the cities in changing spatial patterns and planning. NT was using a methodology that looked at outcomes, not just outputs. For instance, rather than a straight statement on kilometers of roads constructed, the cities should describe how this had improved access and travel times. NT was trying to see what types of urban network, connectivity between township areas and more advantaged areas, city implementation support plans were ideal, to develop a “package” of desired outcomes. She emphasised again that systems were to be aligned and national grants directly linked to desired outcomes.
Ms Wendy Fanoe, Chief Director: Intergovernmental Relations, NT, spoke to the third major reform, which was to have a stronger focus on grants that had both a direct and indirect component. This would allow for easier shifting of funds between functions. For instance, if a municipality was known to have capacity, but was struggling to spend, the grant could be converted back to an indirect grant to allow another sphere to assist. This system had been used for the National Department of Health (NDOH) but when it took more time to build capacity than anticipated, some grants were converted. This conversion essentially allowed for the best mix between using national potential to achieve service delivery, and allowing provinces to build their own capacity. This was to ensure the best mix between using national potential to get service delivery and allow provinces to build their own capacity. Direct grants tended to lock up funding. She added that, in the health sector, a new component had been added to the national health grant to allow for policy reforms to be introduced.
There were shifts in some of the municipal grants. Eskom would plan a bigger role in the Presidential Infrastructure Coordinating Commission (PICC) requirements, because it had more capability to procure equipment. The MWIG and RHIG also now had two components. She displayed a table showing how the indirect grants had been receiving more attention over the last few years.
Ms Fanoe reminded the Committee of the fourth priority to eradicate bucket sanitation, as there were still around 80 000 buckets used, according to DHS, although the census indicated a higher figure. The first step was therefore to identify where exactly it was still being used, and then to develop the appropriate strategy. In rural and un-proclaimed informal areas, the solution could be very different. A unique response for each area was needed. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency (MISA) was already working in this way, as set out under bullet point 5. Regional Bulk infrastructure played a key role, because in many cases the build was the problem. The Human Settlements Development Grant now had a new indirect grant component, because some houses, when initially built, had not included supporting infrastructure or toilets and they needed to be upgraded to contain basic infrastructure.
Speaking to changes to increase transparency, accountability and ease of administration of grants, Ms Fanoe noted that some of the changes were suggested by the provinces. Receiving officers of conditional grants (national departments) must henceforth include, in their expenditure reports, reasons why a grant transfer may have been withheld or stopped, and there must be an accounting for this also in the Annual Financial Statements.
Two grants were in place for supporting public transport – the Public Transport Infrastructure Grant and the Public Transport Network Operational Grant. This would allow for transfers between operations and infrastructure.
There were a number of technical changes to other grants, as set out on slide 23.
Slide 25 showed the division of revenue breakdown. National Departments received about 47.5%, provinces had experience a slight reduction over the MTEF, at 43.8% (which did include the adjustments budget, which had increased because of the increased salaries) and the Local Government Equitable Share at about 9%, compared to 6% a few years ago, with larger allocations having been given over the intervening years. The allocations for local government were probably now at the required level but there had to be a focus on how to get better value for money.
The Provincial Equitable Share was shown on slide 27. It accounted for about 81.5% of transfers to provinces. Most of the increases were due to wage costs, and upgrading of clerks, but there were two new allocations. The first was R150 million for shelters for victims of gender-based violence. Ms Fanoe noted that provinces were, in their own budgets, giving more priority to social development, since in the past a lot of funding had come from NGOs, but their funding was dropping. The other allocation was R200 million for the rollout of the HPV vaccine for cervical cancer, which was an immediate allocation, although it would be done firstly through indirect health grants for 2014/15, and then would become part of the provincial equitable share.
The provincial equitable share formula was updated with mid year population estimates and school enrolment and health facility usage. The changes were smaller than last year. The changes would be phased in over three years. Eastern Cape showed more impact last year because of reduced growth there, as compared to other provinces, and this reduced share was shown in the 2016/17 year, whilst the increased growth for Gauteng in this year was also shown in the same year, to allow the provinces to adjust more gradually and to build up necessary capacity, to ensure stability, not shock.
Changes to the provincial conditional grants were listed on the next slide – showing where money had been added. New substance abuse treatment grants were targeted at the four provinces without public substance abuse centres. A new conditional Occupation Specific Dispensation (OSD) grant for therapists in the Education sector had been introduced, to ensure that systems and monitoring were introduced, and it would, over time, be phased into the provincial equitable share. The FET Colleges grant dealt with wage increases.
Ms Fanoe repeated that the health grants were merged, as both the national and provincial departments had asked for one amount. The Public Transport Operations Grant was R150 million, to assist provinces with the impact of rising fuel and labour costs. The Human Settlements Development grant, for informal settlements upgrades in mining town, amounted to R180 million. There were grants also for disaster relief.
The local government budget framework showed hat R323 billion was allocated to local government over the MTEF, with a breakdown (see attached presentation) for the equitable share, the direct and indirect transfers and the conditional grants. The indirect grants were not supposed to be permanent, but were intended to enable the national Departments, while they were attending to rollout, also to build capacity of provinces or municipalities.
In this year the costs for municipal services were updated. This was the first year in which a methodology was created on how to annually update the population or households of municipalities, because there was now enough data. Statistics SA put municipal data on its websites, and it was urging municipalities to use that data for their development planning and budgeting, rather than appointing consultants to source the same data. The growth rates seemed modest, but the annual growth rate was 23%, far exceeding the growth in other spheres’ programmes.
The Local Government conditional grants were also set out in detail (see attached presentation).
Ms Empie van Schoor, Chief Director: Legislation, National Treasury, outlined the government responses to the Financial and Fiscal Commission recommendations. She noted that section 214 of the Constitution required the FFC to make recommendations on the equitable division of revenue between national, provincial and local government. When making these recommendations, it must take into account the factors listed in section 214(2). The Money Bills Act required Parliament to take the recommendations of the FFC into account and she listed all the applicable legislation. The Minister of Finance, in terms of the Intergovernmental Fiscal Relations Act, must consult with the FFC ten months before the start of the financial year, or 14 days before the tabling of the DoRB. A memorandum must be drawn showing the extent to which the FFC recommendations were taken into account.
Ms Fanoe then set out the recommendations, and said that the detailed discussion was in Annexure 1 of the DoRB.
The first recommendation from the FFC related to the need to moderate the growth in public sector wages. Some of the work here was led by the Department of Public Service and Administrating (DPSA) but there was also the need for individual departments to “clean up” their staff and headcounts numbers. The expenditure in the public sector would always remain quite high because the Justice and Police sectors were highly personnel-intensive and could not reduce their numbers much without adverse impacts on service delivery. There should, however, be a focus on efficiency and strengthening the capabilities of the state.
National Treasury fully agreed with the FFC recommendations on the FET colleges.
The FFC said it was wiling to assist departments when planning for a new grants, which the NT appreciated. FFC also sat on the budget council and NT would work with it.
The FFC had recommended the need to review the efficacy of conditional grants and NT had already introduced some incentives to try to increase the efficacy, as outlined earlier.
FFC also spoke to capacity building in relation to transfers from national departments. Ms Fanoe noted that NT was meeting with transferring departments regularly, but the transferring departments must ensure that they had capacity to administer the grants at the required level. For the indirect grants, many departments struggled to build up their own capacity. FFC had made some proposals around the provincial fiscal performance framework, which were being attended to.
FFC had stressed the need to find an appropriate balance between the wage and non-wage spending, with more attention being paid to headcount issues and the need to find norms for performance on the part of provinces.
In regard to the FFC’s recommendations for integrated planning for achieving better outcomes, Ms Fanoe noted that the Minister had outlined in his budget speech, as well as his briefing on the previous day, the strong links between the National Development Plan and the outcomes already incorporated. It was important to know how the budgeting process worked, and now there were functional budgets, so a number of related sectors, at the national and provincial levels, would be brought together – for instance, the education budgets would include processes in relation to the national Departments of Basic and Higher Education, and the provinces.
NT appreciated the work done by the FFC in relation to the performance-based grants, but said that it would need to deal with these on a case-by-case basis. Incentive grants should be clearly communicated and there was a need to emphasise capacity-building. The provincial grants had been preceded by several years of support programmes offered by NT, prior to their introduction. There was also a need to focus on capacity building in municipalities particularly through the MISA, and some grants had been extended to focus on the rural areas. There was support for the suggestions on infrastructure grants.
Mr L Makhubela (COPE, Limpopo) referred to slide 8 and noted that regulations had been published in 2012 for comment. National Treasury had alluded to the fact that extensive support had been offered over the years, but he wanted to know if NT was now actively supporting, and in which provinces there would be monitoring done by NT.
Ms Ngqaleni said that there was already a committee set up that included NT, and the Departments of Basic and Higher Education . There was a reporting system that all the municipalities had to follow, using the same reporting format and the same information. NT had direct oversight over 17 of the largest municipalities and that helped NT to establish the standards and norms for reporting, and there was also benchmarking done through half-yearly visits. The provinces were then delegated to oversee, through provincial treasuries, the rest of the municipalities. Some provinces were supporting this move strongly, but others had to work harder.
Mr C de Beer (ANC, North Cape) said that this was a very important presentation. He noted that the grants allocated R13 billion to Northern Cape which was only able to generate its own provincial revenue of around R3 million. In his province, he was particularly concerned that the Provincial Treasury or Provincial Government would require would call upon officials to attend meetings, that sometimes only lasted 20 minutes, but which required them to travel 940 km each way. He strongly suggested that NT, as part of the cost-containment measures, must look at video-conferencing facilities, as these would hugely decrease costs and traveling time.
Ms Ngqaleni said that it was within the provinces’ mandates to take that initiative, to cut the costs.
Mr de Beer said that in fact Treasury, in this room, had refused a prior request that he had made, and had merely given the answer that “it would have to be explored”. This was not adequate.
Ms Ngqaleni said that NT already did use video conferencing for some of the meetings, and it was necessary to take this matter up with the provincial treasury.
Mr de Beer raised queries around the need for planning, and the principle that all planning should be done two years in advance. He fully supported that principle. However, he said that there should be a programme to train officials in how to plan, because when they were called to Parliament to appear before the Select Committee on Appropriations, the same excuses and problems were being raised time after time in relation to the problems apparent not only from the expenditure reports, as commented on extensively by National Treasury, but also from the performance reports as commented upon by the Auditor-General. These officials were working with substantial amounts of money.
Ms Ngqaleni said that building state capacity was not a short term, but a long term project that would require patience and persistence. There were several forces at play, such as the willingness of individuals to acquire skills and engage in more transparent and open systems for this would reduce opportunities for errors and corruption. NT was running a formal training programme with the University of Pretoria, which had now been running for the last year, targeted at decision making officials, and there was another programme also offered for operational staff. The formal training, together with more specific recruitment practices, and competency requirements as agreed upon with the DPSA, should enable the sectors to ensure that they hired the right people. Over the last ten years, NT had been trying to get municipalities on the same footing in terms of being able to access money, and assistance, but this was linked also to incentives. In the past, it seemed that the worst-performing municipalities were the ones who received the most attention, but now the money they received would be directly linked to their performance, and they were being held more accountable through these links. Municipalities would be expected to have formalised systems to plan and procure.
Mr de Beer asked whether, in relation to the Human Settlements grants, it was possible for NT to say how much was going to the rectification programmes in each province. He pointed out that the rectification programme for RDP houses should never have been needed in the first place.
Ms Fanoe said that this information was held by the national level and she did not have the specific details for each province with her, but would send written breakdowns to the Committee before the meeting on the following Tuesday.
Mr de Beer said that the FFC had held a series of public hearings on the local government fiscal framework, and asked what was now to be said about the funding model for municipalities.
Mr M Swart (DA) adding to the comment of Mr de Beer, said that he had found a lot of references to transfers to municipalities but wanted to know how much was being transferred to district municipalities all over the country.
Ms Fanoe noted that pages 265 to 271 of the documents set out the allocations for each and every municipality and that showed which money was going to district and local municipalities. It was probably more useful to compare this with what was paid to the district municipalities and the payments to the provinces. There were also breakdowns in respect of the local government.
Ms Fanoe expanded upon the question of district municipalities in general and the report by the FFC. There were some interesting results. One of the key points to bear in mind was that rural municipalities would clearly never to be able to collect the same revenues as the larger urban municipalities, but the question was whether they were even collecting what they could at the moment. It was not a positive factor if they were relying on the grants, because they should also be encouraging their residents to pay for the services that they received. Sometimes there was an inverse relationship between the national government increasing grants, and municipalities displaying a drop in own revenues. The grants were supposed to top up local government service delivery obligations, not replace them. It was not merely how to fix one side of the balance sheet, without considering the other.
Ms Fanoe also alluded to what the district municipalities should be doing. There had been discussions with district municipalities who provided water and sanitation. In many cases, the water was also provided by the local municipalities. If a district municipality was authorised, it did not mean it was necessarily providing the service at the right level. The main issue was that if the local municipality provided some of the water and sanitation, it was the responsibility of the district municipality to share the MIG money with the local municipality, yet this was not always happening, and the local municipality might end up by providing the service but not being paid. There were provisions in the Division of Revenue Act that a local municipality could raise issues with National or Provincial Treasury, although this had not really happened in practice. The DoRA also gave an indication of the equitable share for local government, and there were guidelines on what would happen if the local government was providing the services. The NT itself could not resolve the legal mandate issues. However, the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (COGTA) was starting to look at the appropriate routes for district municipalities.
The Provincial Chairperson from the Limpopo Provincial Legislature noted that there had been much focus on municipalities, but the experience of his Committee during oversight was that it was unlikely that many local governments would be able to comply with “Operation Clean Audit” and it was argued that this was because the national and provincial government spheres were not supervising regularly. Often, local government would be providing services but was not being paid, and in some cases the national and provincial government might discover that the billing system was wrong, in which case COGTA would have to adjudicate. Many municipalities, in his experience, did not understand the budget cycle and allocation of funds.
Ms Fanoe said that the Clean Audits were covered by Chapter 7 of the budget review document. There was now a slightly different focus to the discussion, which NT and COGTA were examining. She explained that initially, the term “clean audit” envisaged that the municipality must get a completely unqualified audit, with no findings. There had been improvements to the audit results to date, and there was room for more, but the Budget Review, on page 101, indicated that 117 municipalities had managed to achieve unqualified audits in 2011/12 and 122 had achieved this in 2012/13. There was also an improvement in those getting completely clean audits, over the same period, from 9 to 20. It was now being suggested that perhaps the benchmark should be “unqualified” rather than “clean” audits.
Ms Ngqaleni added that audits reflected an outcome, and the NT was actually focusing on a whole cycle and on linking the spending, procurement and budgets. The focus was now more on the support programmes rather than on one ultimate outcome of a “clean” audit.
The Limpopo Chairperson said that he was in support of municipalities and provincial departments being allocated conditional grants, because then at least these grants could be rolled back if not used, and there were strict conditions around compliance.
The Limpopo Chairperson was happy to hear about the emphasis on supply chain management, and pointed out that sometimes hospitals were being refused access to basic services such as delivery of food or cleaning services when this was faulty. He asked that interventions should be planned so that the Auditor-General and Chief Administrators could sit on a task team to identify the challenges. Programmes should help to enhance administration.
The Limpopo Chairperson said that another concern was that often the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of municipalities were not credible, particularly in the rural municipalities, when the traditional leaders were not being involved, so that they showed resistance. Programmes had been instituted to ensure that municipalities would be working with the traditional leaders. He commended NT for the interventions and the need to establish credible IDPs.
Mr R Lees (DA, KwaZulu Natal) quipped that NT was being given credit for interventions in the province of Limpopo although it was actually this Committee that had taken important action.
Ms Ngqaleni agreed that it was a huge challenge if there was failure to ensure credibility of IDPs.
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) referred to slide 27 and asked for more clarity on how the Strategic Integrated Projects (SIPs) were to correlate with the Integrated Development Plans, and how the PICC would address the challenges.
Ms Ngqaleni said that there was integration between the SIP and City programmes, although there had not been time to elaborate on that. SIP 7 was specifically looking at spatial transformation and deficient transport systems, as these two factors were major drivers to ensure integration of areas. It was important to align the various instruments, and that was what NT was attempting to achieve. Over the past 20 years there had been delivery of housing, but the houses delivered were not connected to economic opportunities, and it was a burden to provide water and transport to the areas where they were built. This highlighted the need for integrated planning, rather than merely responding to urban sprawl. There was a need to bring the poor and business areas together, and the question was where to begin to “turn the tide”. Often, budgets did not actually address the plans. Municipalities still tended to work in silos, working on individual projects in isolation instead of planning together and sharing their plans. Every aspect of “liveable” human settlements had to be considered. The fiscal system should be used to drive that. The NDP said that ideally there should be a structured transformation fund, but that was not possible, so this methodology was being adopted instead.
Ms Mashigo noted that the NT was stressing project preparation, and asked how this approach differed from the Technical Assistance Unit, whether there were differing intervention strategies, and how this might affect resource allocations.
Ms Ngqaleni said that the planning must relate directly to what the grant was supposed to achieve. NT wanted to come up with catalysts, and it was now planning and building for mixed use development projects, including drivers for the private sector involvement.
Ms Mashigo asked for clarity about local government, and whether NT had any structure around local government organograms, or whether the staffing changes applied to the provinces. She pointed out that often it was found that there were staff appointed who were not reflected on the organograms, and was not sure how their salaries were being paid. Whilst she fully accepted that in certain areas, it was essential to have expertise, such as Chief Financial Officers, she wondered if NT took any time to indicate what staff must be audited against the organogram. She was worried about the high personnel payment expenditure. She felt that audits should be looking at the staff posts, their qualifications and whether they were capacitated to do their jobs.
Ms Ngqaleni responded that NT had put forward certain minimum competency standards, and had come up with assessment requirements for Municipal Managers and Chief Financial officers, to ensure that they at the very least had the right qualifications. However, because of the emphasis on competence, people had also been acquiring qualifications. It would be a challenge to check the impact, although it would in part be reflected in how the budgets improved or how reporting was being done, and the changes that became apparent in supply chain. Other assessments would be done, beyond the Chief Financial Officer and Municipal Manager posts, for other officials. COGTA and NT were coming up with broader competence requirements, in relation to both financial and non-financial staff.
Mr E Sogoni (ANC, Chairperson of Standing Committee on Appropriations) also wanted to speak to the issue of qualifications of municipal officials, and said that the media had carried a report recently on the qualifications of various officials of various provinces. This was tied in to the question of clean audits. He was not sure if NT had been consulted when the report had been drafted, but he thought that a study of that report would be a good starting point.
Mr G Snell (ANC) asked if the National Home Builders Registration Council (NHBRC) was still in existence and said that the reason for this body being set up was to try to monitor the work done by contractors, and to ensure that if latent defects later became apparent, there would be some responsibility taken for rectification. He asked to what extent the NHBRC might have come on board in relation to the rectification grants, and if contractors doing shoddy work were held accountable.
Ms Ngqaleni confirmed that the NHBRC was still in existence and doing its work. Many of the houses were not registered, and there was a need to ensure that the title deeds were handed over. This was holding the NT back from full delivery on housing.
Mr Snell wondered if there was readiness to take integrated budgeting to another level. He asked how policy goals were being achieved.
Ms Fanoe said that NT was working with the Presidency to get the processes of strategic plans and budgeting aligned.
Mr D Joseph (DA Western Cape) referred to population statistics and thought that the NT or Statistics SA must send information to the municipalities so that they could be proactive. He noted that despite the current and pressing challenges around urbanization and provincial migration, he was concerned that there were only responses after five or ten years. He urged that the municipalities should be helped to use the figures to assist them in planning in the IDP processes.
Mr Joseph said that the recommendations of the FFC were interesting. He was not sure what “moderate growth in the public sector” meant, for there were essential posts that had to be filled. He thought that there should rather be a reference to “core” and “non-core” posts, with an emphasis of achieving value for money, and more emphasis on technical rather than administrative skills. The output of technical skills from the FET colleges was not happening fast enough.
Mr R Lees (DA, KwaZulu Natal) noted that there had been use of indirect grants, but they had scaled up dramatically in the last few years. He noted that there was a three-year history to using them, at least, and asked if, in the view of NT, they had worked, and whether they were ensuring better delivery. It was not always the case that the national sphere was more competent that the provincial, although there might be cases in which this was correct. –
Ms Fanoe responded that there was a “mixed bag” on performance of indirect grants. Municipalities were doing quite well, but Eskom was doing “phenomenally well” in regard to the electricity grants, although there were some gaps around the consultation with the municipalities. The same applied to some of the water boards who had the skills. In regard to the indirect grants specifically targeted at provinces, she said that performance was “not great” and there was a need for proper planning to achieve service delivery rollout. Even after completing the planning, it was argued that the rollout was done more efficiently, with infrastructure delivered cheaper and better, under the indirect grants. She said that the results would be seen over time. However, it was vital always to have proper planning.
Mr Lees asked if there was not a danger that NT was forming a “super-Ministry” with all the emphasis on infrastructure and corridors that it was trying to control, and said he was rather worried about where this would lead.
Ms N Mkhulusi (ANC) asked if there was any capacity building being arranged for cities, not metros, to ensure integrated development, and made the point that it did not help to capacitate only the administration, without also ensuring good capacity for oversight. She said for example that those in Rustenburg must understand what was expected of them, and that capacity must be built to ensure that the pre-apartheid sprawl spatial patters would be curbed.
Ms Mkhulusi referred to the education grants and the figures for 2016/17 and asked if the Provincial Treasuries would be included that in their budgets. Previously, the experience had been that once the national department stopped funding the OSD, the provinces seemed to have problems in continuing. The whole OSD had become a major headache for this reason.
Ms Fanoe said that the OSD could also be considered as a “mixed bag” of success. The grant here was intended to fund therapists. A conditional grant was first established to ensure that the National Department would put systems in place. OSD had not always been implemented for the right people, but had ended up being given to everyone, and that would become unaffordable. The need for focus on certain areas was the reason why conditional grants were introduced and hopefully the benefits would show over time.
Ms A Mfulo (ANC) said that she appreciated the references to the IDP
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) also spoke to slide 27, in which it was said that metros would need to certify that certain things had been taken care of. At a national level, the NDP gave direction to what must happen, but to date he was worried that metros had not really followed the process, and the structural plans of those metros had not changed. He asked how the current process would help, if the NDP process had not even filtered through. He was not sure whether this was a real issue or a problem of the language used, but was worried that too little real integration had taken place.
Mr Ramatlakane spoke to slide 14, which outlined changes on human settlements. He asked if the allocations following planning and if there was capacity to spend, or whether it still needed to be built.
Mr Ramatlakane noted that the FFC had raised issues about salaries in the public sector and the wage issue. He wondered if anything had been done about wage structures. There was already a Bill before the NCOP that sought to integrate spheres of government and try to achieve more “inter-changeability” and this Bill was looking to structure rather than headcount.
Mr Ramatlakane noted that there was greater flexibility if there were components of direct and indirect grants, but asked how the mechanism of interchangeability would operate and what would trigger the one type of grant taking over from the other. If there was knowledge that one might not work, he wondered whether there were still attempts to keep the baseline going.
Ms Fanoe said that the shift between the direct and indirect grants could happen in various ways. Usually a national department would ask NT for the conversion. Some were established in advance – such as the Water Operating Systems Transfer grants, where the municipality and national departments agreed on who would perform what function, with the consequence shift of money, but there had to be strong consultation and interaction between the national officer and the province or municipality for this to work effectively. It would not help if, for instance, the national department failed to spend and then merely “dumped” the money with the province in the last month of the financial year, and the province would then be reflected as having not achieved its spending.
Mr Ramatlakane referred to slide 37, saying that one paragraph touched on the public sector wage in percentage form. He asked, in relation to the equitable share aspect, if this could influence the percentage upwards, or whether this was a breakdown of the percentage. He asked for the quantification of the public sector wage.
Ms Fanoe said that the 3% quoted as the personnel share included all provincial and national staff, with about 60% of that relating to provincial staff, so that could inform the breakdown. The provinces were personnel-intensive.
Mr B Mnguni (ANC, Free State) referred to the Local Government Financial Management Grant and said that the Auditor-General South Africa AGSA often reported that municipalities, but also provinces to some degree, were unable to plan. He asked if NT was doing anything to ensure that the grants produced value for money and what would happen if they were not being used properly. He noted the references to training, and said that some people wanted to be trained and others did not, but there did not seem to be any consequences if the training was not producing any tangible results.
Mr S Montsitsi (ANC, Gauteng) followed up on this comment. He said that when the Select Committee had done oversight work in the provinces, both in regard to local government and provincial officials, this Committee often had not gained the impression that the officials were able to absorb the training. He asked if NT had any yardstick to measure the impact of the training being conducted, particularly with municipalities, but also generally with provincial officials. One possibility might be to say that once they began to improve and achieve clean audits, then this would obviously show movement in the right direction, but he would like to see more specific yardsticks perhaps. He was also worried that in his experience, many of the departments or local government were sending more junior officials to the training, who might not be able to effect the desired impact on the performance by the departments.
Mr Montsitsi referred to slide 38, and said that Gauteng had also raised concerns as to the equitable share formulas and he was now raising the issue specifically in relation to the per capita education grants, and the latest statistics. A provincial Department of Education official had noted that in Gauteng, in January 2014, more than 100 000 children in excess of the projected numbers had sought to register in the Gauteng schools. However, the share paid to Gauteng was far below the share being paid to KwaZulu Natal. He said that he was not attempting to suggest that KwaZulu Natal did not deserve to receive a fair proportion, the point was that the allocation given to Gauteng did not appear to have taken into account either the increase in the Gauteng numbers, or the fact that not only the children had moved to Gauteng from other provinces, but also presumably their parents and families, so that the relative shifts in numbers were perhaps not taken into account.
Ms Fanoe said that the school enrolment weighting for Gauteng was originally 17.3% but, because of the data being updated every year, this had been raised for the 2014 year to 17.5%. All other provinces had received lower percentage increases, and some actually had negative changes, which did reflect the migration away from those provinces. She noted that it was easier to update the provincial than the local equitable share. She also repeated that those figures were only adjusted over a period of three years.
Mr Montsitsi said that many of the grants were very positive. He asked whether the new grants were being introduced in an attempt to force the municipalities to “ring-fence” their funding more effectively and ensure that they were delivering on mandates to which the money was attached. Often, municipalities failed to deliver, and that seemed to force NT to give specific grants dedicated to certain disciplines.
Mr C van Rooyen (ANC, Chairperson of Free State Legislature committee) wanted to comment on the recommendations from the Standing Committee. He was not sure that the presentation by NT gave sufficient credit to exactly what the Standing Committee had requested and he felt that perhaps the responses were too vague, particularly in relation to the monitoring of Free Basic Services. The development of indicators was well and good, but he felt that a more direct response was needed to these very important recommendations.
Ms Ngqaleni hastened to assure the Committees that the NT did indeed take all comment from Parliament very seriously. She explained that it was not possible, in all instances, to give more precise reports at this stage, and where the NT was still laying the foundations – for instance, in setting up a proper monitoring system for Free Basic Services - it could not report more fully until that preliminary work had been completed to set the framework. She assured the Committee that the work being done by the NT in those instances would be accelerated, and repeated that until the foundations had been laid, it was not always possible to comment more specifically.
Mr van Rooyen said that the urban economics presentation was interesting but he asked where the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) was in the whole process. He noted that SALGA also had representation in the NCOP.
Mr van Rooyen said that every year, the local government equitable share was rising, but this must be seen against the backdrop that it had started from a very low baseline. It was local government where service delivery had to take place. He thought that the local government was perhaps still being short-changed.
Mr van Rooyen asked about the risk adjustment sub-component share, as set out in Table W12, and asked for simplification on the indicators used.
Ms Fanoe said that “risk adjusted” was essentially a term that was coined in the medical insurance sector, or by the medical council, to adjust numbers up or down. She explained that the numbers alone did not tell the full story. For instance, in a population with a higher percentage of young people it might be expected that those people may not require as substantial or frequent medical services as an older population. A population comprising more elderly women may require more service than one comprising elderly men, and since women tended to live longer, the services would be needed for longer. The types of services required by young people were likely to differ from those required by older people. The weighting essentially looked at prevalence statistics in addition to the numbers.
Mr E Sogoni (ANC, Chairperson, Standing Committee on Appropriations) had also wanted to hear about direct and indirect grants. He reminded Members that there had been a long debate about where to place the RHIG, with input from NT and DHS. It turned out that the reality, on this grant, was that whilst some municipalities were able to perform, but others were not. The Standing Committee had been concerned, overall, about this grant’s performance, and there was a challenge also in monitoring the performance. He wondered why there appeared to be two grants, and wondered whether it would not be preferable to retain only one, but perhaps with greater support from NT. He said that his Committee needed t ensure that national policies were implemented but the question was whether the number of grants could be reduced.
Ms Ngqaleni said that she would still like to comment on the Rural Household Infrastructure Grant and she agreed that the Department of Human Settlements needed to do quite a bit of work on monitoring this grant. She thought it would be useful if NT and the DHS could attend a meeting of the Appropriations Committee, together. The reason for having the two grants was that one was specifically intended to cater for the rural areas and their special needs only, but the other acknowledged that perhaps another area may need something specific to be done. She said that it would be interesting to hold more detailed discussion on these points.
Mr Sogoni was not sure that the incentives were useful, given that some municipalities were starting from a lower baseline than others. He acknowledged that NT had a support team, but perhaps a clear report was needed on how effective that support team was, because questions of capacity were being raised continuously. There were people who were supposed to be dealing with this, and he wondered where exactly the problems lay. Even with the incentives in place, some of the poorer municipalities would remain where they were, and the gap could even be widened if the incentive ended up being accessed by those municipalities who had the capacity and muscle to grow already. He believed that programmes should rather be directed to uplifting poorer municipalities to grow.
Mr Sogoni, commenting on issues also touched upon by Mr Lees, said that it was necessary to be clear as to what exactly NT should be doing. The Constitution set out what NT should be doing, and so did section 6 of the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA). However, there were concerns that sometimes NT appeared to be reluctant to implement some of the sections.
Mr Sogoni noted that a number of Members needed to leave at this point, to catch their flights, and some had already had to leave early. He suggested that for those questions that could not be answered in the time available, written responses should be submitted.
Mr Sogoni finally noted that the end of this session marked the beginning of the follow up, and the Committee would be continuing the conversation on the budget on 4 March, when it would be meeting with the Financial and Fiscal Commission, and would also be holding discussions with SALGA. The DHS had been invited to a meeting on the following Friday, and he asked that NT should also try to join that meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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