The Members met to approve the Committee’s draft Report on the budget vote of the Department of Transport. Members went page by page through the report and suggested various amendments to clarify the language, correct some of the statements, and add more information. Under the recommendations section, Members felt that it would be useful to include specific time frames, and they emphasised that all vacant senior management positions, not only that of Director-General, should be filled soon. The Committee also urged that the outstanding draft policies must be finalised shortly by Cabinet to enable the Department to implement.
Members indicated that they were happy with the content of the Report, as amended. When a DA Member noted that his party had not yet given him a mandate on adoption of the budget, it was clarified that the Committee did not have the ability to “adopt” a budget, and the wording of the conclusion was corrected to make it clear that it was the Report being adopted.
Mr M Sibande (ANC) opened the meeting, saying that he had been asked to do so since the Chairperson was running late. He asked for apologies from Members unable to attend the meeting, and noted that The Committee Secretary gave the one apology noted from a COPE Member. The Chairperson noted that others were not present, without having offered their apologies, and urged that all Members unable to attend should send apologies in writing to the Committee Secretary.
Mr M Mabika (NFP) said he could not be stay for the entire meeting as he had to fly to Johannesburg.
Mr Sibande noted that but asked that Members should try to avoid double-booking, although he understood that he had other commitments.
Committee Report on Transport Budget
Members began to work through the draft Committee Report on the Department of Transport Budget (the Report) page by page.
An ANC Member suggested that repetitions on page 2 be removed.
Ms M Masehela (ANC) suggested that the Report should note that the structure of the programmes of the Department influenced how it would function, and it should be noted also that the programmes were aligned with the National Development Plan (NDP).
Mr C Hunsinger (DA) had a problem with the structure of some sentences on page 3, and suggested that the Committee remove some words that appeared to affect the accuracy of the report. Page 3 also lacked content and he suggested that more explanation was needed.
Mr Sibande agreed.
Mr M De Freitas (DA) said that the Report was somewhat contradictory to the National Development Plan (NDP) because it referred throughout to “public transport” while the NDP referred to “transport planning” in general and “spatial planning” in general, with no particular reference to “public transport”. He suggested that the report reflect similar objectives to the NDP.
Ms S Xego-Sovita (ANC) also spoke about sentence structure.
Mr Hunsinger added that the objectives of the NDP did not only include the cities but also rural areas and smaller towns. He asked for amendments, because as presently written, the Report seemed to suggest that the NDP was being implemented in the cities only, and this was not correct.
Mr C Hunsinger also noted that ‘economic growth’ and ‘job creation’ were two different things and the terms should not be used interchangeably.
A Member said that the report only spoke about the Departmental objectives as related to the NDP and wanted to include something on the work of the Department.
In relation to page 4, Mr Hunsinger asked why previous inflation figures were used to establish the objectives for the future. He would have liked Members of the Department of Transport to be present to clarify this
Mr L Ramatlakane (ANC) did not think that the sentence being referred to made sense in its present form.
Ms Xego-Sovita said that two different percentages had been used in the Report, and asked for clarity, or for the necessary correction, as appropriate.
She, and Mr Ramatlakane further commented on other sentences that needed to be restructured.
Mr Hunsinger asked if the exponential increase only referred to the actual amount as stated in the Report, or to a programme. He asked why such a large increase was necessary, and where it would be put.
Mr T Mulaudzi (EFF) asked if having the words ‘legislation’ and ‘regulation’ in the same sentence was a typing error; he believed that they had the same meaning.
Ms Masehela suggested that it might be useful to have another sub-programme in the Department, such as “Improving Public Transport Access and Reliability”.
In relation to page 10, Ms Xego-Sovita said that some of the issues mentioned in this Report, or those highlighted in the previous meetings, had been resolved. She further indicated that it was incorrect to speak of a “policy” that was not yet in effect.
The Chairperson said that the Cabinet had not yet approved the “policy” yet although the Members were aware that such a draft policy existed.
Mr De Freitas suggested that the sentence should be restructured to mention that the policy was awaiting Cabinet’s approval.
A Member suggested that maybe the whole sentence should be removed from the report.
Mr De Freitas reminded the Committee that the South African Airways no longer fell under the Department of Transport.
Mr Ramatlakane suggested that the Report should also mention all senior management staff of the Department in acting positions, and not only the Director General.
A Member reminded the Committee that the Department had said it would use three policies to ensure the effectiveness of its programmes, but these were not mentioned in this Report.
Ms Masehela said that the Committee Recommendations section should include that Cabinet adopt the policy speedily, so that the Department could continue with its programmes.
A Member noted that the “Recommendations” section was incorrectly grouping together some activities, and suggested sub-headings, rather than including everything under one paragraph.
Mr Mulaudzi said that he did not see mention of entities that were discussed during the last meeting.
The Committee Secretary said that she would correct this and make the necessary insertions.
Ms Xego-Sovita added that the discussion in the last meeting was not about the different entities of the Department but rather about the quick transfer of funds to the entities from the Department. The listing of entities was just a formality.
Mr Ramatlakane urged that the Report be specific on dates; most of the recommendations used the phrase “as soon as possible” rather than a specific date. He suggested that time frames for recommendations be inserted, up to three months hence.
The Chairperson saw no problem in doing this and suggested that time frames be specified.
Mr Mulaudzi felt that the Department should not have to wait to appoint qualified people into the vacant posts.
The Chairperson asked if Members were ready to adopt the Report.
Mr M De Freitas said he supported the report but could not approve it at this stage because the budget had not yet been discussed with his party, and he had no mandate.
Mr Mulaudzi, another Member and Ms Xego-Sovita noted that they all supported the report, as amended.
The Chairperson said to Mr de Freitas that the adoption was of the Report, not the budget.
Mr Ramatlakane also reminded the Committee that is was not within its mandate to adopt budgets.
Mr Hunsinger suggested that, to clear up any confusion, the wording of the conclusion should be changed to specifically refer to “adopt… the Report”.
The Chairperson agreed. The amended Report would be circulated to Members.
The Chairperson noted that a dinner invitation had been issued by the Department and encouraged Members to attend if they were able.
The meeting was adjourned.
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