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PUBLIC ACCOUNTS STANDING COMMITTEE
20 August 2002
REPORT-BACK BY AUDITOR-GENERAL AND WORK GROUPS
[This is a transcript of the meeting, produced by the Public Accounts Committee Secretariat.]
Chiba, Mr. L
Gerber, Mr. P
Gumede, Mr D
Kannemeyer, Mr. B
Mofokeng, Mr. R
Mothoagae, Ms. K
Nair, Mr. B
Lowe, Mr. M
Beukman, Mr. F (Chairperson)
Koornhof, Dr. G
Dudley, Ms. C
Hlangwana, Ms N L
Ndou, Mr R S
Smith, Mr V
Woods, Dr G
Mr. Fakie (Auditor-General)
Mr. P Mosaka (Auditor-General's Office)
Mr. H Van Zyl (AG's Office)
Mr. G Witthoft (AG's Office)
Ms. L Less (Auditor-General's Office)
Mr. A Van Dyck (Auditor-General's Office)
Ms. B. Letompa (Researcher)
The Chairperson welcomed members of the Committee.
The Chairperson reported that:
Public Works: Hearing
The Committee has applied for permission to hold a hearing with the Department of Public Works on 28 August 2002. The response from the Chief Whip is expected by Friday.
Correspondence: GCIS and JSCI
Letters sent as per plenary resolution.
The follow-up meeting with the Director General of Arts and Culture, SIU and the Public Protector would take place at 13:30 shortly after plenary.
The Office of the AG reported the following:
Water Affairs and forestry.
The forensic report on alleged irregularities on the bidding of Zama forestry assets would be presented to the Committee in two months time. The office further indicated that the terms of reference for that investigation are:
Was the proper process followed in awarding the contract?
Was the process good enough to avoid abuse?
On whether the Committee could make addition to these terms of reference, the Auditor General indicated that this would have to be done in writing and the request should go through the office of the speaker for approval.
The Committee resolved that the matter should be referred to the relevant cluster for consideration. The group would report to plenary on this matter.
The matter is still under investigation. The report would be submitted to Committee when finalised.
3. Report-Backs by Work-Groups
3.1 Group 1 (Mr. D Gumede)
He reported the following:
3.1.1 The Auditors briefed the Group on the report. The Group was also provided with an executive summary of the report, which highlight areas of concern at the department. It was agreed that the hearing should focus on the following core issues:
Under Expenditure amounting to R721, 8 million.
Unauthorised Expenditure amounting to R5, 44 million.
Failure to comply with the provisions of the PFMA.
Lack of supporting documentation.
Lack of Management control.
Lack of management subsystems.
3.1.2 it was further agreed that the Auditors will prepare few key leading questions on the identified core issues and that members would have to concentrate more on follow-up questions during the hearing.
3.1.3 on the availability of the Director General, the Group agreed that it was vital that the outgoing Director General should attend the hearing because issues raised in the report were incurred during his tenure. The Group agreed that if the latter is unavailable or unwilling to attend, the Committee should subpoena him.
3.2 Group 2
Ms. Mothoagae reported that:
3.2.1 Justice and Constitutional Development
The group has agreed that the Chairpersons of SCOPA, Portfolio Committee on Justice and the Director-General of the Department of Justice should arrange a follow up meeting to discuss issues emanating from a meeting with the Department. It was further agreed that the meeting should also clarify whether members of the executive are aware of the issues highlighted during the meeting and if not, why were they not informed.
The Committee resolved that because of the seriousness and the nature of problems experienced by the department, the National Treasury should also be invited.
3.2.2 Legal Aid Board
The draft resolution would be tabled on Wednesday for adoption.
Mr. Lowe has tabled his additional questions.
A site visit to Parliament is scheduled for Tuesday, 3 September at 14:00. The group would draft and submit the objectives of the visit to plenary next week.
3.2.5 Water Affairs and Forestry
The replies to preliminary questions were forwarded to the Auditors for evaluation.
Hearing: Public Works.
The Committee agreed that all members who volunteered to assist Group 1 with the Public Works hearing should attend Group 1's preparatory meeting on Tuesday morning. Members who volunteered are: Ms. Dudley, Ms. Mothoagae, Mr. Kannemeyer and Mr. Beukman.
The Committee agreed to postpone the meeting with the Chairperson of the RAF board to 4 September 2002. The relevant group would draw terms of reference for that meeting.
SCAG report-back (Document circulated)
4.1 Mr. Mosaka briefed the Committee on the new method of work proposed by SCAG. He reported that under the new system:
The review process would be reduced from thirty-two to twenty weeks.
This would be achieved mainly by eliminating the process of sending preliminary questions to Accounting Officers.
The Office of the Auditor General would no longer prepare questions for members to be used during hearing. Members would therefore be expected to draft their own questions.
The National Treasury's role of submitting SCOPA's reports to relevant Departments would be eliminated. The National Assembly Secretariat will now carry out this role. It was however agreed that the National Treasury should at all times be informed on what is happening at the Departments.
4.2 The Committee agreed that SCAG should consider and make recommendation on the possibility of SCOPA members debating Committee reports in the HOUSE.
Consideration of Review letter from Ms. Wixley.
The Committee considered request from Ms. Wixley to review its earlier decision not to refund her for travel expenses incurred in attending SCOPA's hearing on State Theatre.
It was resolved that:
If the Committee invited Ms. Wixley to attend the hearing, then she should be refunded for travel expenses.
At the next meeting members should give input to make a final decision on the matter.
SCAG should deliberate on this issue in their next meeting, and they should propose a guideline for future reference on cases of similar nature.
The meeting adjourned at 13:00.
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