The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation recently adopted the Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) of the Department of Water and Sanitation, the Water Research Commission and the Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority.
During the review discussions, the Chairperson commented that it was better to over-spend than to under-spend. He noted that under-spending was punishing taxpayers in terms of service delivery. It was the law-makers that should be punished for over-spending.
Members wanted to know the meaning of ‘complicated technical specifications’ used to describe an unused R16m set aside for mitigating disasters. They commented that the report did not mention the new dams that were being built, and asked when an oversight visit would be paid to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project. It was suggested that all state entities and departments should be audited by the Auditor-General of South Africa, not by a private sector company.
The Committee also adopted the minutes of reports dated 3, 10 and 17 September 2014.
Department of Water and Sanitation, Water Research Commission and Trans Caledon Tunnel Authority Budget Review and Recommendations Report
The Chairperson indicated that the researcher should provide the Committee Members with the agreement documents that were mentioned from pages 1 to 5. He also stated there was no indication of when the R660 billion mentioned on page 3 (second paragraph from the bottom) would be spent over the next ten years, or if it would be spent at the beginning or end of the next ten years.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) wanted to know where the returned unspent money went. Her question emanated from when she asked for clarity on the meaning of ‘complicated technical specifications’ regarding an unused R16 million set aside for mitigating disasters.
Mr Thomani Manungufala, Committee Researcher, explained that the money was set aside to guard against unforeseen circumstances in communities. Money not spent gets transferred back to the National Treasury. The issue of ‘complicated technical specifications’ could best be answered by the Department.
Ms Khawula commented that disasters strike but one does not see the money set aside being used to rebuild the houses of affected families. Instead, one sees the victims being given blankets and food parcels only.
Mr M Mpontshane (IFP) asked how much money had been transferred to Programme 3 on page 8.
Mr Manungufala said he did not have the figures, but indicated that the money all went to the water entities.
The Chairperson remarked about the expiration date of the Water Boards. He asked Members to think of the role the Committee could play in the appointment of the new Water Boards.
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) commented that the report did not mention the new dams that were being built in certain provinces, like the Eastern Cape and Limpopo.
Ms Khawula indicated she failed to understand why the R100 million not spent (Page.6, 3.2) was reported as insignificant, as that money could be used for community needs.
The Chairperson suggested that the issue be included in the recommendations, because that was a significant amount that could contribute to any community, especially those in rural areas. He indicated it was better to over-spend than to under-spend. He said that under-spending was punishing taxpayers in terms of service delivery. It was the law-makers that should be punished for over-spending.
Mr Mpontshane enquired of when an oversight visit would be undertaken to the Lesotho Highlands Water Project.
The Chairperson replied that Phase 2 of that project was about to be started, so it made sense to start preparing for such an oversight visit.
Mr T Makondo (ANC) raised a point about a dam in Limpopo that was not benefiting nearby households.
The Chairperson mentioned that the National Water Act talked about household water as a priority area, but in reality agriculture got first priority. He suggested the matter should not to be debated, but should be raised when the Department appeared before the Committee in future.
Mr Makondo remarked he understood that the the Caledon Tunnel Authority worked mainly with the private sector, though it was a state entity. To discover that the entity was audited by Ernest & Young did not go down well with him.
Mr Mnguni proposed that all state entities should be audited by the office of the Auditor-General. There must be no private sector involvement. He further suggested that when Members scrutinised the reports of the Auditor-General in future, they should be given reports of previous years so that they could understand what keeps on making the entity or Department make the same mistakes.
The Chairperson pointed out that the last line (P.13. 6.1, second paragraph) should be rephrased or re-written, because it was not specific enough. Concerning the disciplinary cases (P.13. 6.5), he recommended that the Department should submit quarterly reports about them. This would form part of the Committee recommendations.
The Chairperson further indicated that the first line (P.14, second paragraph) should be re-written, so as to avoid repetition.
Mr Makondo said the draft report covered everything. The only corrections that needed to be made were in numbering.
The Chairperson put the report forward for adoption.
Mr Makondo moved the adoption.
Ms B Kekana (ANC) seconded Mr Makondo.
Adoption of minutes
The Committee then moved to the adoption of three sets of minutes.
Minutes of 3 September
Mr Mpontshane moved the adoption of minutes.
Mr P Galo (AIC) seconded the proposal.
The minutes were adopted.
Minutes of 10 September
Mr Mnguni moved the adoption of the minutes.
Ms K Bilankulu (ANC) seconded the adoption.
The minutes were adopted.
Minutes of 17 September
Ms Khawula made a correction regarding the name of a place with people without water in Mthandeni. The area is in the Ilembe Municipality, not Vulamehlo.
Ms Bilankulu moved the adoption of the minutes.
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) seconded the adoption.
The minutes were adopted .
The meeting was adjourned.
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