The Committee Researcher presented the draft 2013/2014 Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR), which focused on the Department of Home Affairs’ (DHAs’) strategic priorities and measurable objectives for the 2014/15- 2015/16 financial years.
On the basis of challenges and problems encountered by the Committee in its oversight and , from the 2014 State of the Nation Address and National Development Plan; key issues were put forward by the Committee covering the DHA, the Independent Electoral Commission and the Government Printing Works. The Film and Publications Board, formerly an entity of the DHA, had moved to the Department of Communications. The mandate and budget programmes were set out, noting that the main priorities lay in administration, provision of services to citizens, and immigration services, which was closely linked to national security. DHA had contributed to three of Government National Outcomes, but it noted the addition of two more, in relation to outcomes 4 (decent employment) and 12 (national building), in the coming years.
The report noted progress in key areas with the DHA fully achieving 53% of the 38 performance indicators it set for 2013/2014. This was more than double what was achieved in 2012/2013 and 2011/2012. Particular highlights were the National Population Registration Campaign that had recorded one million citizens and reduced late registrations of birth, which were to be phased out. Security gaps had been closed, and centralisation of adjudication for permits and visas reduced fraud also. Over 700 000 Smart Cards were issued to citizens. The achievements were particularly notable, because the DHA managed to reach them despite under-spending on the budget. However, it was noted that despite the achievement against performance indicators, the DHA had regressed in its audit performance, having received a disclaimer since the Auditor-General reported on too little information provided to support the performance indicators provided. The Standing Committee on Public Accounts had been conducting hearings into discrepancies in the 2011 and 2012 financial year, but the DHA had not incurred unauthorised expenditure in the current year. DHA had managed to drop the vacancy rate from 10.3% down to 6.6%.
It was noted that Government Printing Works (GPW) intended to become a State Owned Company over the medium term expenditure period, and one of the specific recommendations for the Minister was the urgent attention to the special salary dispensation for this entity. The Independent Electoral Commission had not managed to retain its clean audit status because of problems with source documents to support performance against predetermined audit objectives.
Specific recommendations by the Committee to the minister related to budget allocation, the need for improvement of performance in the immigration programme, the need to give priority to infrastructure, staffing and one-stop border posts, plans for relocation of closed refugee reception centres, which must be provided within 90 days, and attending to the audit issues, prioritising the IT modernisation and paying attention to programmes to address xenophobic violence. Members adopted the draft Report, with some changes.
Department of Home Affairs Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR)' Committee section briefing
Mr. Adam Salmon, Parliamentary Researcher, presented the draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) on the work of the Department of Home Affairs (DHA or the Department).
He noted that the BRRR identified some key issues covering the Department of Home Affairs, the Electoral Commission (IEC) and the Government Printing Works (GPW). He reminded the Committee that the Film and Publications Board (FPB) had been moved from the DHA to the newly created Department of Communications.
On the basis of challenges and problems encountered by the Committee in its oversight, key issues were put forward by the Committee, to be carried out over the next five years.
The strategic plan of the DHA had focused on the following:
- The effective management of immigration to contribute to security and development
- The establishment of a comprehensive and secure National Identity System (NIS)
- Modernising Home Affairs through investing in people, processes and technology
- Improving service delivery and promoting good governance and administration
- Visible and firm action in the fight against corruption.
Department’s Strategic Priorities and Measurable Objectives
The Department contributed to three of the twelve national government outcomes in 2013/14-2014/15. Outcome 1 focused on securing South African citizenship and identity; Outcome 2 focused on effectively and securely managing immigration in the national interest including economic, social and cultural development; while Outcome 3 focused on the provision of secure, efficient, accessible and corruption free services.
Its measurable objectives included, but were not limited to:
- Ensuring that registration at birth was the only entry point for South Africans to the National Population Register (NPR)
- Issuance of Identity Documents (IDs) to citizens turning 16 years of age and above
- Ensuring registration and identification of all South African citizens, foreign residents, refugees and asylum seekers to enhance the integrity and security of identity.
Analysis of Strategic and Operational Plans
In line with the 12 Government outcomes from April 2010, the specific performance targets put in place directly relevant to Home Affairs included:
- Outcome 3- All people in South Africa feel safe
- Outcome 5- A skilled and capable workforce; and
- Outcome 12- An efficient development oriented public service.
Two new priority Government outcomes relevant to DHA were identified for the 2014-2019 period:
- Outcome 4- Decent employment through inclusive economic growth; and
- Outcome 14- Nation building and social cohesion.
Outcome 4 was yet to be included as a priority by the DHA in the Annual performance plan.
The DHA fully achieved 53% of the 38 performance indicators it set for 2013/2014. This was more than double what was achieved in 2012/2013 and 2011/2012 (26%). Without transfer to agencies, the DHA budget increased by 20%, or 14.4% above 2013/14 inflation. A doubling in reported performance indicators was notable given only a 14.4% real increase in budget.
The Department noted progress in a number of areas in its annual report and highlighted the following:
• The National Population Registration Campaign was conducted through communities, recorded over one million citizens and reduced late birth registration. The Department was planning to discontinue late registration of birth by December 2015;
• It amended Civics and Immigration legislation to address serious security gaps and improve service delivery, especially to vulnerable groups;
• The Department had centralised adjudication for permits and visas, which had reduced fraud and corruption;
• The stakeholder forums were formed across the country, so that communities, local government and departments mobilised support for the delivery of DHA services;
• There was a major breakthrough in the design and development of new systems, including the rollout of a Smart ID Card. Over 700 000 Smart ID Cards were issued to citizens.
Consideration of Reports of Committee on Public Accounts
The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) heard evidence on and considered the contents of the 2011/12 Annual Report and the Report of the Auditor General (AG) of the DHA. The Department incurred no new unauthorized expenditure during 2013/14. However, it did report certain outstanding balances dating back to 2005/6. The Director General had, however, indicated that of the R99.9 million identified R53 million of this amount was later approved, but must be funded from savings the DHA would make on its future budget. The outstanding amounts emanating from 2010/11 and 2012/13 were being raised with National Treasury and would be discussed in a SCOPA meeting scheduled for November 2014.
The overall vacancy rate in the Department declined from 10.3% to 6.6% in 2013/14. There were 680 vacancies out of the 10 344 total approved posts. The highest vacancy rate, of 9.4%, was in the Administration programme. Citizen Affairs was the biggest programme with 514 out of a total establishment of 8335, and thus showed the highest number of vacancies to be filled.
Mr Salmon moved on to the section of the draft Report that set out the Committee’s Key Findings
The Report noted that in relation to the Budget Vote, the DHA showed an 11% real decrease in its budget allocation (after taking into account the 6.2% inflation) in the 2014/15 Financial Year. The DHA generally maintained a fairly consistent and low under spending in 2013/14 (around 3%, as compared to the 1% that was usually considered acceptable by the National Treasury)
In respect of the audit, the DHA regressed and received a disclaimer on the audit outcomes.
The Annual Report figures showed improvements on the issuing of passports and Smart ID cards to citizens. The DHA spent approximately R5.5 million on Adult Basic Education. There were insufficient levels of assurances in the DHA to ensure that employees were meeting their performance targets.
Mr Salmon reminded the Committee that the Government Printing Works (GPW) intended to become a State Owned Company over the medium term expenditure period. There were on-going delays in the special salary dispensation for GPW that was to be approved by the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA). There were also audit issues related to source documents to support performance against two predetermined objectives preventing the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) from retaining a clean audit.
Of the issues observed by the Committee during the year under review, the following were of particular concern and were recommended specifically in the BRRR, for prioritisation by the Minister of Home Affairs, in the future planning and budget allocations:
• Consider prioritizing budget allocation and related performance improvements in the Immigration Programme. It was noted that the continued low performance on Refugee and Immigration-related indicators was compounded by the prioritization and virement of funds to the Citizen Affairs and Administration programmes.
• In terms of regional integration, priority should be given to infrastructure and staffing issues as well as the rolling out of one-stop border posts to other busy ports of entry.
• Provide Parliament with a progress report on the budget related to closed refugee reception centres and plans for relocation of centres to the borders, within 90 days of the adoption of this report by the National Assembly.
• Prioritise the urgent finalisation of the special salary dispensation for the GPW with the DPSA
• Ensure the DHA addresses the issues raised by the Auditor General for 2014/14, in particular the relations with Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) and strive towards clean administration.
• Prioritise the implementation of the IT modernization programme.
• Encourage programmes and initiatives that would address the ongoing xenophobic violence.
• The IEC should address the findings of the AG in order to return to a clean audit.
The Chairperson thanked Mr. Salmon for presenting the draft BRRR. The Portfolio Committee noted a few issues to be edited.
Mr M Hoosein (DA) referred to point 7.2.6 on the Annual Report which stated, “There was persistent reporting on contingent liabilities related to unresolved long outstanding legal cases against the Department.” This should read; “There was an increase in allocation towards contingent liabilities related to unresolved long outstanding legal cases.”
The Chair referred to recommendation 7.3.3 and informed the Committee that the several refugees’ reception offices had remained closed and the Department needed to have its attention drawn specifically to this issue
The draft Report was adopted by Members, subject to the corrections mentioned.
The meeting was adjourned.
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