Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries 2nd Quarter performance: Committee Researcher and AGSA briefings

Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development

16 February 2016
Chairperson: Ms M Semenya (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) briefed the Portfolio Committee on the 2015/16 second quarter performance report of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). It was highlighted that AGSA was not looking into causes of achievement or the quantification of targets but was reporting whether the information was verifiable and whether the Department had been exercising oversight over its entities. The AGSA then presented a summary of the number of targets for each of the programmes in turn, and whether those were able to be verified. There were comments on the percentage of targets not consistent with the Annual Performance Plan, and the unreliability of some of the reporting. It was noted that some targets listed for quarter 2 had been carried over into quarter 3. Members asked for clarification on the IT numbers and incorrect information, and the impact of the carrying over of targets from one quarter to the next. They asked if the deficiencies in the programmes could be identified but heard that they could not be clarified due to the lack of clear reporting. Members also asked how the shifting of funding for drought was being done. Members commented that it was a challenge to receive both performance and financial information in one report and would check with the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation whether this was the best way to present the information.

The Committee Content Advisor had been asked to present a research analysis of the  2nd Quarter Expenditure and Performance Report, but noted at the outset that the Department had been asked to align future performance and progress reports to the National Development Plan and Medium Term Strategic Framework. However, the Annual Performance Plan that the Department now seemed to be using was not the same as the one tabled to and approved by Parliament in March 2015, as it had apparently produced another revised Plan to Parliament in July, during recess, which had never been officially tabled to and approved by this Committee. The Chairperson said she would seek advice from the Chair of Chairs on this position, and wondered which plan AGSA was working to. After clarification on the issue, the Research staff would prepare and present a new report prior to the Committee meeting with the Department.

The Committee adopted its minutes of 20 October and 2 November 2015 and agreed that meetings would be held on Tuesdays, with stakeholder meetings arranged twice a month on a Friday.

Meeting report

Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 2nd quarter expenditure and performance 2015/16: Auditor-General South Africa (AGSA) briefing
Ms Meisie Nkau, Business Executive: Department Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) Portfolio, AGSA, set out the constitutional mandate of the AGSA. She noted that after the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF or the Department) had reported on its achievement of targets and performance in Quarter 2 of the 2015/16 financial year, the AGSA had reviewed it. She pointed out that the AGSA was not looking into causes of achievement or quantification of the targets but merely did verification of what had been reported. AGSA checked whether the Department exercised its oversight over its entities. She apologised to the Committee for lack of documentation to the Members.

Mr Fanie Koh Senior Manager: DAFF Portfolio, AGSA, gave a background to the audit outcomes for this year, and how they were reflected in the Auditor-General’s report. Out of the nine targets set out in the Programme 2 of the Department, 11% of the target was not consistent with the approved annual performance plan (APP). There were six targets set out in Programme 3, but 17% of the reasons for variance was not provided by the Department. 8% of the targets set out in Programme 4 were not reliable reporting. Out of the seven targets set out in Programme 5, 14% were not reliable. 41% of the supporting evidence for the reported targets in Quarter 2, dated October and November,  was achieved only in Quarter 3.

Ms A Steyn (DA) asked for clarification on the IT numbers and wrong information, something that this Committee had raised in the past.

Mr C Maxegwana (ANC) asked what the impact was of reporting a target in Quarter 2nd achieving it in Quarter 3, when it came to the end of the financial year. He asked the reasons for the deficiency in Programme 3.

Mr Koh responded that the Department could have logged into the website to verify the correctness of the IT numbers. However, AGSA will assist the Department in this regard. The current impact of the shifting of targets from one quarter to the next could not be seen at present, as they were both still within the same financial year. AGSA was unable to determine the reasons for the deficiency in Programme 3 because the reporting documentation could not be verified.

Ms Steyn asked how AGSA was dealing with the moving of funds for drought.

Ms Nkau replied that the shifting of funds was regulated. AGSA would look into this in the context of the he Regulations and approval processes. AGSA audits compliance and reports on any activity that is done by the Department that is regulated.

The Chairperson expressed the challenges of having both performance and financial information in one report.

Ms Steyn agreed that it was challenging to put the two types of information in one report. The Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation will be asked about the prescribed way of presenting the financial and performance information.  In the past the Committee used to receive the two types of information separately.

Research analysis 2nd Quarter Expenditure and Performance Report: Committee Support briefing
The Committee's Content Adviser said the Committee had mentioned that the Department in future presentations must align its performance and progress reports to the National Development Plan (NDP) and Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) and so this briefing would be focused on the MTSF of the DAFF and how the Department was responding to it.

She firstly highlighted the anomalies in terms of the targets reported against the APP. The APP that the Department is using was approved in March 2015, in lines with the rules of Parliament and as presented to the Committee. However, she pointed out that on 9 July 2015, during the recess period, the Department had tabled a revised APP which was not presented to the Committee and the content of that was not known to the Committee.

The Chairperson interjected to ask whose problem this was, if the Department had tabled a revised APP to Parliament.

The Content Adviser responded that if the Department re-tabled another APP then it must have a reason for doing that.

The Chairperson asked which particular APP the Committee was actually now following.

Ms Steyn asked if it was legally justifiable for the DAFF to table another APP later in the year after approval had already been given to the previous APP. She suggested that a letter be written to the Chair of Chairs in this regard. There seemed to be confusion as to which APP the Committee was working on.

The Chairperson replied that the Chair of Chairs  or whoever was responsible would be asked about the implications and how to deal with it. This confusion might even affect the AGSA as the Committee is unaware of which APP this office was working with.

Ms Steyn suggested that a new report should be worked on.

The Chairperson said that the APP will be clarified and at that stage, the analysis of the new report would be presented to the Members of the Committee.

Mr Maxegwana suggested that the Committee Researcher should be allocated around one hour to present the report and the Committee would then be able to go through that analysis before the meeting started. Alternatively, the report could be sent to Members a week before the meeting.

The chairperson said this might be a challenge, as there may be too many emergency meetings happening at the moment. She suggested that the Committee Section staff should remove the old reports when they handed over the new ones to Members, to avoid any confusion.

Other business
Ms Steyn asked for an updated Committee Programme.

The Chairperson said that the programme is available but had not been adopted. Since the Committee had been allocated Tuesdays to have its meetings, she proposed that Fridays be utilised to interact with stakeholders.
Ms Steyn agreed to the proposal if the Tuesdays are fully utilised.

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) suggested that the Friday meetings should happen when the stakeholders are available.

Members unanimously agreed to meet with stakeholders on two Fridays per month.

Ms Steyn complained about the unavailability of venues.

The Chairperson responded that application would be made for a venue before any meetings were fixed.

Ms Z Jongbloed (DA) asked if there was an opportunity for Members to request attendance by specific stakeholder groups.

The Chairperson responded that this could be requested through the Chair.

Committee Minutes Adoption:
Members adopted the minutes of 03 November 2015 and of 20 October 2015.

The meeting was adjourned



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