Science and Technology Budget Review and Recommendations Report

Science and Technology

21 October 2015
Chairperson: Dr B Goqwana (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

BRRR 2015-2010: Budgetary Review & Recommendations Reports

The Committee considered its Draft Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) on the performance of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2014/15 financial year. Member considered the report page by page and suggested some grammatical changes to the observations and some of the concluding statements on the BRRR.

The Committee adopted the BRRR with the changes to be effected.  

Meeting report

The Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR for the 2014/15 financial year
The meeting started with only five members of the Committee. The Chairperson proposed that Members raise concerns they had on the report before the Committee and consider the report page by page while waiting to reach a quorum to adopt it.

Ms LM Maseko (ANC) had concerns around the recommendations. The recommendations must mirror the observations of the Committee, they must be instructive about what the Committee says should happen and come with time frames if possible. The recommendations should be in a sentence or a paragraph and the report did not have that. Also the recommendations should hammer on the 1.5% of the R&D based on the issue of the limited budget that the Department had and the issue of reworking on the Research and Development (R&D) budget within other committees.

The Chairperson emphasised the concerns that Ms Maseko pointed out. Firstly, whenever the Committee makes an observation, there must be a recommendation that went with the observation (whether it is a negative or positive observation). Secondly, on the concerns about the 1.5% for the R&D, the Committee is oversighting the Department of Science and Technology and he did not want the Committee to be seen to be trying to assist the Department to do certain things, as the oversight Committee is looking at apologies. He proposed that as an oversight Committee it could recommend to the Department of Science and Technology to look at the R&D policy in two ways, firstly they must be an R&D vote, secondly, all the Departments that had to do research and development must integrate with the Department of Science and Technology so that science and technology could have control of that R&D or have access to the budget. Further, let it be a policy so that the Departments will know that they are reporting to the Department of Science and Technology. The Chairperson then asked what the Committee members thought of those two recommendations.

The Committee Secretary, Ms Shanaaz Isaacs replied that the Committee should recommend that the Department can have a centralised and separate R&D vote (It would be something new but it could be investigated and discussed within the Committee) as the integration could take long.

Ms Renee Osborne, Committee Content Advisor, replied that if the Committee wants the R&D vote recommendation plus the one that determines how samples that are not with the Department are funded then the Committee can recommend that the Strategic Management Module that the Department uses to govern their Science Research Councils be revised because the 2012 Ministerial review has said that it was that model that had disadvantaged councils like the Agricultural Research Council (ARC) and the South African Medical Research Council (MRC). 

The Committee agreed with both the recommendations.

The Committee then considered the BRRR page by page.

Mr C Mathale (ANC) directed the Committee’s attention to page 20, to one of the conclusion statements which referred to “To sharpen its innovative edge…….”, he said he struggled to understand the statement and suggested that it should be rephrased in manner that it is easy to understand and communicate better what the committee has concluded.

Ms Isaacs replied that the statement means the Department of science and technology must stay globally competitive in order to contribute meaningfully to scientific development.

Mr N Khubisa (NFP) agreed with Mr Mathale that the statement should be rephrased as it was very broad and also has an element of ambiguity.

Ms Osborne, suggested that the statement should be changed to “To improve South Africa’s inability to innovate” and then keep the rest if the sentence.

The Committee then proposed that Ms Osborne and Ms Isaacs should rephrase the statement.

Ms Maseko proposed that the word “Not” in the second bullet of the conclusions on page 20 to be removed. That sentence must not start with a negative statement.

Mr Mathale disagreed and said the statement was not negative. It meant that there must be cooperation between government and the private sector. The word ‘Not” could be removed but the statement was not negative at all.

The Chairperson agreed with Mr Mathale and said that the gist of the statement is right but it should be relooked.

The Committee also agreed to change the wording in the last two bullet points of the concluding statements on page 20 & 21. 

Mr N Koornhof (ANC) arrived late at the meeting and the Committee reached quorum. He had read the report and he was fine with it. 

The Committee adopted the BRRR with the changes to be effected. 

The meeting was adjourned. 

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