Home Affairs Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)

Home Affairs

21 October 2014
Chairperson: Mr B Mashile (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee Researcher presented the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report.

The Chairperson remarked that findings are statements of facts and recommendations are plans of action to address these findings. Each finding must have a corresponding recommendation. The Chairperson said that the BRRR should only addresses issues within the allotted timeframe of 1 April 2013 to 31 March 2014. The Chairperson argued that certain matters were beyond the scope of the report due to it being outside of the timeline, of due to the non-tabling of documents or lack of accurate information, or outside the department’s mandate.

The DA member disagreed with the Chairperson’s limitation as one might lose the essence of the findings by striking them out altogether. Although some issues may not be findings that are reported on yet, some are important observations that deserve noting, especially the Lindela Repatriation Investigative Report by the SA Human Rights Commission. If the Lindela Report is not included in the Committee BRRR, it requested that a minority view be included. Further, lack of funding for the Border Management Agency is within the scope of the report and the department’s accountability. The DA asked to include insufficient IT modernization to the findings list. The Chairperson recommended that delayed visas and other such documents continue to be addressed by the DHA.

There was disagreement about including the lack of clarity on whether the Standing Committee on Public Accounts approved millions in unauthorised expenditure by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA). The Chairperson advised against including this in the report for fear that it had improper implications. The DA argued that the report acknowledges that there is confusion. There was also disagreement on whether it was the executive or the legislature that in essence decides on a department budget. The final version of its BRRR would be approved on 23 October 2014.

 

Meeting report

Mr Adam Salmon, Committee Researcher, presented the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report.

During the presentation Mr M Hoosen (DA) asked for clarity on the Auditor-General's Findings under the Vote 4: Home Affairs chart.

Mr Salmon responded that the Audit Opinions section explains if the Department and its entities received a qualified, unqualified, or disclaimer opinion in its Audit Report. The chart displays the department’s regression by the Auditor General. The next section indicates which areas were identified as problematic by the AG contributing to an unqualified or disclaimer. The last section, labeled “other findings”, identifies additional challenges.

The Chairperson thanked Mr Salmon for his assistance to the Committee. The Chairperson explained that in this report the Committee must clarify specific issues, consider findings and recommendations. It is important that each finding has a corresponding recommendation. Corrections are needed. Members are free to raise any concerns. The Chairperson does not agree with the phrase “it appears as if there is” anywhere in the document because it implies that what exists is something different than what it appears to be. It insinuates that what is being said is incorrect. The Chairperson remarked that the target is a target, but the performance of the department is actually the outcome of an assessment. The Chairperson asked that all words that qualify as unmeasurable be removed.

The Chairperson noted that in the Expenditure Report section the financial report ends in June 2014. The period under review should be  April 2013 to March 2014. Although a precedent has been set now for 2013/14, next year the Committee must take the correct timeframe for review.

Mr Salmon responded that Section 32 must be tabled during this time period. This financial year must be examined in order to stay on track. It may be clearer to put the reports in chronological order for review. He believes that according to the Money Bills Act the current year must be examined.

Ms S Nkomo (IFP) questioned whether or not the Committee has the authority to change the flow.

The Chairperson said that the manner of tabling can be discussed. The Chairperson does not see the need to review the previous financial year with current activities. However, the Chairperson will speak with the authorities on the matter.

Mr Hoosen requested clarity on accruals and payables.

Mr Salmon explained that accruals are receipts that have not been paid in cash and that payables are categorized as money that has been paid but there is no receipt. He is not sure exactly why but the National Treasury standards dictate that the two be distinguished.

The Chairperson thought it to be the opposite.

Mr Salmon said that the confusion may be around the providing of goods and services, not money; however, it can be checked against Treasury’s definitions. He said he will double-check all the figures.

The discussion continued and minor grammatical adjustments were made.

The Chairperson said that the two headings “Build Understanding and Fight Intolerance” and “Decent Work Especially for Youth” were problematic.

Mr Salmon said that the first was a paraphrase of the State of Nation Address and that the word “decent” in the second one is meant to indicate that these jobs do not include internships and low-level jobs.

The Chairperson allowed the wording to stay but not as headings.

Mr Salmon agreed to delete the sentence about the Department of Communication. The discussion continued and minor spelling, grammar, and punctuation changes were made.

The Chairperson said he would like a description of what the 2005/06 R99.9 million unauthorized expenditure was. Secondly, the report reflects that the Standing Committee on Public Accounts approved R99.9 million, not R99 million.

Ms N Mnisi (ANC) requested clarity on what was savings and what was expenditure.

Mr Salmon clarified that the department must "cut money in order to receive more money".

The Chairpersonstruck “meetings with SCOPA” from the findings and requested narrower findings.

Mr Hoosen insisted that the backlog be addressed in the findings.

Mr Salmon added this to the findings.

Mr Hoosen requested that the modernisation of Information Technology (IT) be added to the report.

The Chairperson said that modernisation is currently underway.

The Chairperson agreed. It was changed to “insufficient measures were taken”.

The Chairperson suggested that “strengthening attendance” is a recommendation, but that “poor attendance” is a finding.

Ms Mnisi reminded the Committee that by addressing the members’ attendance, the Committee is saying that it is the responsibility of another entity in this  report. In fact, the responsibility lies with the political party.

The Chairperson said that there is an obligation for members to attend meetings but political parties cannot force members from other parties to attend.

Mr Salmon changed it to reflect that IEC facilitation was insufficient.

After discussion, Mr Salmon changed “the leadership role of DHA should be strengthened” to a recommendation.

Mr Hoosen suggested that it read, “some of the DHA’s achievements were not aligned with the targets.”

Mr Salmon agreed because that there was some leadership, but not enough.

The Chairperson said that this is still an opinion and it may be objected to.

Ms Mnisi suggested that if this statement came from the AG then it should be identified as such. Then the Committee is not responsible for its implication.

The Chairperson said that the Committee must make its own findings.

Mr Salmon moved it to the recommendations section.

The Chairperson asked that the Committee simply state that the department’s Director-General (DG) position was not filled in a permanent capacity.

The Researcher said that the issue was only resolved after the Annual Report was completed but the DG position is not permanent.

The Chairperson said that this is why it should be put that 'the position is vacant'.

Mr Salmon added that this speaks to an issue of misrepresentation.

The Chairperson said that the aim is not to embarrass the department for their failure.

The discussion on recommendations continued.

Mr Hoosen was concerned about losing the essence of the findings by striking them out altogether. Although some issues may not be findings, some of these are important observations that deserve noting.

The Chairperson suggested that these can addressed in the recommendations section.

Mr Hoosen was happy with this suggestion although he felt that it is more of an observation than a recommendation.

The Chairperson said that improved levels and projected consequences can be suggested in the recommendations; assurance can be included in that section.

Ms Mnisi asked that the report distinguish between those people who are undesirable and those that are banned. The Chairperson agreed that this must be clarified.

Mr Salmon made the corresponding corrections so that undesirable people and banned people are not synonymous.

The Chairperson added that the abuse of illegal immigrants report must be taken note of whether or not it is agreed with.

Ms Mnisi asked which report because no report was received.

The Chairperson identified it as the Human Rights Commission report.

Ms Mnisi said that there is a difference between an input and a report.

The Chairperson said that there is a report on the Lindela Repatriation Centre but the Committee does not have access to the full report.

Mr Hoosen agreed that the report was not received but it is a record that should be kept in the BRRRR. While consolidating, the Committee must capture all the important issues. The Committee has invited the Human Rights Commission to present on its Lindela report.

The Chairperson remarked that the report does exist and the invited authors have not spoken to the Committee yet. Nothing has been done with it by the Committee. Next week the Committee hopes to have this presentation. If it is mentioned in the findings, there should be a recommendation attached to it.

Mr Salmon suggested that the report read that “the Committee noted the release of the Report on the Lindela Repatriation.

Mr D Gumede (ANC) said that the Committee cannot pre-empt the report. The Committee does not know what the report deals with yet.

Ms Mnisi agreed that the Committee cannot speak about a report that has not been read yet.

Mr Hoosen disagreed.

The Chairperson said that for the sake of pairing findings with recommendations it is better to leave it out. It is not a pressing matter and there is no recommendation to attach to it.

Mr Hoosen was passionate about mentioning the Lindela report because it deals with human rights. However, there was a conversation about the report and this conversation was not noted.

The Chairperson asked Mr Hoosen to finish speaking.

Mr Hoosen refused to stop speaking and stated that the Chairperson only wants to “silence him”. He added that a discussion was had regarding the Lindela Repatriation Centre and mentioning the report would not create harm. However, leaving it out of the report would mean that the Committee failed to note an important issue.

The Chairperson said that Mr Hoosen misunderstands what the Committee is saying.

Mr Gumede agreed that if there is a rule about limiting findings to those that deal with relevant reports tabled to the Committee, then it must apply to all of the findings.

The Chairperson asserted that the lack of a report does not make an issue less serious. It should still be reported on, but at a later date.

Mr Hoosen said that he would like it to be included as a minority view.

Ms Mnisi had no problem with the minority report; however, the entire Committee is interested in the content of the Lindela report and it will become available.

The Chairperson said that the Chairperson cannot be held responsible if the report is not presented. However, a minority view implies that the rest of the Committee is in opposition. It goes against Committee unity. The Committee agrees that the matter deserves attention, but not in this time period.

Mr Hoosen agreed to disagree but he would only agree to a concession that the report be mentioned in the recommendations. If not, he requests a minority view.

The Chairperson said that he would like to agree.

Mr Hoosen requested that the Committee notes in the BRRR that the Lindela report exists.

The Chairperson said that it should not sound as if there is opposition when there is not. He agreed to this concession and that Lindela Repatriation is put in the discussion section.

Mr Hoosen questioned if the department is interacting with its service providers adequately.

The Chairperson asked the Committee to agree or disagree with Mr Hoosen's statement. He added that findings must be prioritised because time is an issue. Certain issues can be saved for a later date.

Mr A Figlan (ANC) said that it is important to be as concise as possible. Although there are some findings which members are passionate about, the central issues must be prioritised.

The Chairperson said that certain matters are administrative and can be addressed at a later date. This one can wait.

The discussion progressed.

Ms T Kenye (ANC) did not believe that the Who Am I Online reference was important.

The Chairperson said that it is simply a name change and the budget reduction was decided by the National Treasury, not the department. The over-reliance on consultants lacks proof.

Mr Salmon struck them from the findings.

The Chairperson commented that issues should not be raised for the sake of keeping the department busy. The consultants comment should be struck from the BRRR because it cannot be supported by the Committee. Additionally, immigration has been of great discussion; however, it is not in this time-frame.

Ms Kenye disagreed, saying immigration issues should not be struck out. There is no time-frame for these studies.

Mr Figlan agreed that immigration should be included in the findings and the recommendation should be that immigration matters should be dealt with more quickly.

The Chairperson indicated that recommendations and oversight should all agree, but that the findings are within a relevant time period.

Mr Figlan said that there were a lot of issues. Reporting on an issue may result in sufficient resources to deal with the problem being added to the budget.

The Chairperson wanted to clarify that the visit to the border is intended for conceptualisation and assessing the need for legislation with regard to the establishment of a Border Management Agency (BMA). If the Committee understands the purpose then the proper questions can be raised.

Ms Kenye insisted that the feasibility study is still in question.

The Chairperson said that if that is the case, the finding must be merely an observation regarding the agency feasibility.

Mr Hoosen suggested that the concern is with budgeting.

The Chairperson remarked that the department is not responsible for budget allocation because Parliament votes on the budget allocation.

Mr Hoosen stated that budget allocation for immigration was insufficient and that the Committee agreed upon this. The report should reflect this.

The Chairperson said that budget allocation is Parliament’s responsibility and it would be the executive who would be held responsible for this. It is Parliament’s job to change the funding allocation if it disagrees.

Mr Hoosen said that not enough funds were allocated to the BMA is a finding.

The Chairperson admitted that it may be confusing but that this report is limited to what the department is responsible or accountable for.

Mr Figlan said he is not sure if his remarks are limited to immigration, but money may not be spent in non-priority areas. For example, there is a complaint that government is receiving people, such as refugees, for too long and so this money would be misallocated.

The Chairperson maintained that the Committee underfunded the department. Parliament is the only entity that can adjust funding, regardless of whether or not there is enough support in Parliament to make this change.

Mr Salmon said that the question is whether or not the department can grow its service delivery with less money. There is a lack of funding across all departments.

Ms Kenye added that the refugee reception offices and xenophobia need costly activities to find remedies.

The Chairperson said that the current recommendation only implies that Parliament did not perform well.

Mr Hoosen disagreed with the Chairperson. There is no justifying of the facts in this report. Parliament only approves what Treasury budgeted. Internal allocation of funding is controlled by the Minister. These are two separate issues.

The Chairperson agreed to disagree. He conceded to the Committee for the time being.

Mr Figlan ascertained that it is Parliament’s job is to influence fiscal policy, not to dictate it.

Mr Salmon recommended that the finding speak to a concern about the negative impact of low funding on already low performance against targets. The recommendation would be to shift funds according to identified priority areas.

The Chairperson continued to disagree but said that it can be addressed at a later date. The Minister does not decide allocated funds, Parliament does.

Mr Hoosen disagreed with the Chairperson.

The Chairperson explained that Parliament must approve the Minister’s budget; however, it can be debated at a later date. Under “agencies in the Home Affairs Budget: Government Printing Works and Electoral Commission” includes that the word “questioned”. This indicates a position so the specific concerns should be included in the Recommendations.

Mr Salmon questioned that there were no other findings about the IEC.

The Chairperson wondered if there was an insufficient number of findings for the IEC.

Mr Hoosen said that there are good findings about the IEC’s progress in their audit outcomes. Good performance deserves recognition.

The Chairperson suggested that the finding note where the IEC had regressed in the audit. The recommendation would be to address this. The Chairperson believed that all DIRCO fees should be dealt with so that it is no longer a matter of emphasis.

The Chairperson recommended that delayed visas and documents continue to be addressed by DHA. He asked if SCOPA had approved R53 million and what the department must do.

Mr Salmon said that DHA did not meet with SCOPA and conflicting reports about the issue have been ongoing for three years. Some reports indicate that the R53 million was resolved and others say that all was forgiven.

The Chairperson does not want to recommend anything without clarity.

Mr Figlan asked that the issue be clarified before it is included.

Mr Salmon replied that the information was requested.

Mr Figlan insisted that he was a part of SCOPA and that questions about a significant amount of money would be addressed. The Committee can ask again.

Mr Hoosen said that there are two issues: clarity about the R53 million and bill processing. The DHA can clarify. The report should address bill processing.

The Chairperson said that the Committee cannot believe that the DHA contacted SCOPA without contacting the Portfolio Committee as well.

Mr Salmon said that this outstanding matter should be addressed after two years.

The Chairperson said he needs to identify the problem and make a recommendation after there is clarity. The DHA must be contacted to make sure that its position is correct. There must be a meeting with SCOPA and the results must be tabled. It is too early to make a finding. The contradiction must be solved first.

Mr Figlan requested that the Committee attend the next SCOPA meeting with the Department.

The Chairperson said that the Committee will have interface with the department many times. The issue can be raised then.

Mr Figlan said that the issue has remained like this since October 2011. It is serious.

The Chairperson asked who is responsible for the Money Bill and which Committee deals with it.

Mr Salmon believed it to be the Standing Committee on Appropriations.

Mr Figlan explained that finance proclamations are approved by Parliament. When it is approved then the Parliament agrees to accept all parts.

The Chairperson said he would write a letter to the DG about what SCOPA and DHA have claimed.

Mr Hoosen stated that the bill will come back to Parliament if it is inefficient. This issue will come back to Parliament. It has already been two years. It must be faster.

The Chairperson recommended that “The unauthoriz\sed expenditure becomes resolved” because it focuses on the outcome. The process to achieve the outcome is the Minister’s job.

Mr Figlan suggested a report on the budget allocation and spending against it.

The Chairperson wondered if as it stands, the report micro-manages the Minister.

Mr Hoosen commented that the Chairperson is “micro-managing members”.

The Chairperson agreed that a progress report is needed on the location of the refugee offices in relation to the borders; it should include the progress and what was unfinished. The report should not just be on the budget because that does not measure intended outcomes.

Mr Figlan understood that the Committee is asking what activities need more money.

Ms Kenye believed that a budget report does not take into account the measures taken to attain progress in achieving the strategic objectives.

The Chairperson said that the budget can be itemised so that the Committee can see the details of the report.

Mr Salmon says that the plan was for new refugee offices yet none have been built. There is money allocated for the offices that is not spent.

The Chairperson said that a detailed budget report gives the Committee the ability to trace the department’s activities but that this is included in the quarterly report.

Mr Hoosen said that adding the expenditure for building these offices cannot hurt.

The Chairperson reaffirmed that a budget report does not measure performance against strategic objectives. Performance is related to providing offices in the proper location. However, there is not enough time to address this issue. He asked Mr Salmon to delete conflicting recommendations. The Chairperson did not believe that the BMA feasibility study can be acted upon yet.

Mr Salmon said that currently the feasibility study is complete and legislation is needed as indicated by the Annual Performance Plan.

The Chairperson clarified confusion about the BMA report. The March 2013 feasibility study includes where to locate the offices in relation to the border. The feasibility they are referring to is based on the model on which the legislation will be based.

The Committee returned to the SCOPA recommendations topic.

The Chairperson asked if the issue about the R99 million may be hearsay because it is not confirmed. He questioned if there was a benefit from noting it.

Mr Hoosen believed that the benefit is that it is recorded; therefore, it is identified as a reported problem.

The Chairperson feared reporting unverified information.

Mr Hoosen asserted that in the report the Committee is requesting verification.

The Chairperson would like clarity before reporting anything.

Mr Hoosen respectful said that the Chairperson is diluting the information. If the Chairperson does not want to raise this concern in the House, he will.

The Chairperson responded that it is his responsibility to make sure that the Committee acts logically and that their actions make sense. Putting this in the report will not yield clarification.

Mr Hoosen insisted that the Chairperson cannot strike it out altogether. It can be moved to an alternative section

The Chairperson remarked that verified information between the DG and SCOPA must be presented before it is reported on. If not, nothing is achieved. Reporting on an unfinished matter is pointless.

Mr Hoosen stated that it is important to note that it needs to be resolved.

The Chairperson said that the correct finding and recommendations can be made after information has been gathered.

Mr Salmon said that in November there is a meeting with SCOPA and this issue is not currently pressing. It can be included at a later date.

Mr Hoosen insisted that the SCOPA issue is a significant matter to this report. It is incorrect to remove it all together because it requires attention. The wording can be agreed upon. There is no benefit in leaving it out.

The Chairperson was concerned it gives a particular impression of the DG and SCOPA; therefore, it needs to be reported correctly. The positions have not been verified. It may have premature assumptions.

Mr Hoosen stated that he would like to reach a compromise.

The Chairperson asked Mr Salmon to leave the paragraph as is. The Committee will accept the consequences for it. It is more problematic not complete the report than to argue over the details. Resistance on issues affects the completion of the report.

Ms Kenye added the recommendation: Community outreach programmes be put in place to fight xenophobia.

The Chairperson requested that the BRRR be adopted.

Mr Hoosen said that he refused to adopt a report that he cannot read as a final version.

The Chairperson said that the final version will be reproduced and sent to all members. The report would be scheduled for adoption on Thursday 23 October 2014.
 

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