The Committee Report on the Department of Water and Sanitation 2016/17 Budget. Comments were about job creation in infrastructure programmes where skill sharing must take place; tariffs were an important concern and comparative models in other countries should be looked into to see how they are performing
Ms J Maluleke (ANC) stood in as acting chairperson as the Chairperson was unavoidably late. She said the Committee would be considering the adoption of the Committee Report on the Department of Water and Sanitation 2016/17 Budget Vote with the hope that we work together reasonably because this document does not belong to the Committee but will go to the public. What the Committee is doing in the report is to give the public a reflection of what is happening with the budget vote. Committee members have gone through the report previously so they should go through the report page by page and indicate any concerns.
Mr L Basson (DA) requested that if members have any concerns about the report that they be allowed to raise them. As indicated, the DA will take note of the report.
Ms Maluleke said all the members are coming from different parties. The Committee will recommend all issues raised about the report so that members can go back and respond to their caucus resolutions. Are there any concerns about the report?
Mr D Mnguni (ANC) raise a concern about paragraph 6.1.1 where it discussed the late distribution of grant allocations which he found unacceptable.
Ms Maluleke replied that they are rectifying that matter.
Mr Basson asked for some explanation of Mr Mnguni’s concern - is that point going to be taken out?
Ms Maluleke replied that they are not taking out that point.
Ms T Baker (DA) raised a concern about funding which is being used as an interim measure - there has been delay on payments.
Mr Basson raise a concern about paragraph 6.1.2. where it states R3.1 billion. Of that, the DWS report stated that R2.9 billion of that has to be recovered from the Water Boards and Municipalities. The DWS report also stipulated that they are busy discussing that with COGTA to help them to recover that. Should that not be in the Committee Report? If that R2.9 billion is not recovered, then it said the budget will be reduced by R2.9 billion.
Ms Maluleke said when you talk about COGTA, that recommendation will not come into discussion. The issue he raised is not part of the Committee’s documentation.
Mr Basson said it was in the documentation. If the debt is not recovered, then the budget must be reduced. It was stipulated in the report. The debt will have an impact on the budget if it is not recovered.
This point was included in the Committee Report.
Ms Baker raised her view that this matter should be noted
Ms Maluleke asked if the Committee was fine with that.
Mr Mnguni raised concern about job creation. Many items are not included here that are part of job creation. He thought paragraph 6.1.4 should be removed. That was his submission
Ms Maluleke asked members if they were fine with the removal of 6.1.4 from the report.
Ms Baker said that would have a negative impact on the report. Infrastructure projects are also about job creation. By removing that, do they say there is no job creation?
Ms N Bilankhulu (ANC) explained what Mr Mnguni actually said is that they need numbers, if jobs are created in that particular period or particular area. The report is not stating any of those numbers.
Ms Baker said this is not a department report – it is a report as a Committee of their own observations.
Ms Shereen Dawood, Committee Content Advisor, clarified that the report must put a rider there to say that the department responded this way to committee member observations. If we put the rider in, this way we will know that these were the positions of various members and this was the response by the department. She made a suggestion to clarify job creation point. The department emphasised instead of only using external artisans, they were putting skills into the area so that these skills can be transferred to the locals. There are limited skills within the country.
Ms Maluleke agreed with what Ms Dawood said.
Ms Bilankulu wanted clarity on 6.1.1. The Committee says this is their report but the statement reads as if the department is in charge of the programme.
Ms Dawood said 6.1.1. would have the responses by the Committee put in it.
Ms Baker noted that on page 1, it says this report details the findings and recommendations of the Portfolio Committee after engaging the department and its entities on the 7 April.
Ms Maluleke asked if everyone was fine now.
Ms Bilankulu said that she was not fine with the Findings
Mr T Makondo (ANC) said the subheading for 6.1.4 is not in line with content, there is no link because the department has never presented job creation to the Committee. The subheading needs to be changed so it can connect with the content. That also must be redrafted because it does not make sense.
Ms Maluleke how are addressing this one, Mr Makondo can you assist.
The subheading cannot state performance of the department in terms of sustainable job creation, because the department did not present its performance in job creation.
Ms Baker said that the content about the department is performance in 6.1.4 was raised by the Committee during the meeting, and the response was also written beneath it. They cannot change the content in 6.1.4 or the Committee is disputing that they raised that issue.
Mr Makondo said he understood the correction that has been made and he also agrees, but he wanted the subheading to be in line with the content.
Ms Baker suggested a different format about sustainable job creation opportunities from infrastructure programmes.
Ms Maluleke welcomed the Chairperson and said discussions were taking place on the report, but they have not yet gone page by page. They are still checking who wanted to make some input to change or add some items to the report. The Committee is busy with 6.1.4 which they have agreed on. They are not so far.
The Chairperson apologized to members about being so late but he was traveling out of Umtata. He asked for any further changes.
Mr Mnguni referred to 6.1.6 and asked if the name should be the National Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Agency. They had discussed this previously and the Committee ended up saying the Committee still needs to be briefed on the establishment.
The Chairperson said he did make a comment on that issue previously. Instead of talking of ‘National’, they talked about a Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Agency with the assumption that they do not have any water and sanitation agencies in the provinces and local municipalities.
Ms Dawood said the Department indicated that the Committee will be briefed in full about this.
Ms M Khawula (EFF) said that her translator was not present and she was not fine about this.
The Chairperson said that it certainly does become a hindrance. He suggested he would do the translation himself. On 6.1.6 there was a comment about changing the name of the agency. It was agreed that the department will brief the Committee on the details of the Water and Sanitation Infrastructure Agency. On 6.1.7, historically there has been 50% underspending in maintenance. DWS says this has since been resolved but without giving much detail. Some explanation is needed on how this was resolved.
Ms Dawood explained the maintenance costs have been resolved by DWS who submitted maintenance plan documents to motivate the regulated incremental spending.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee understands this.
Mr R Cebekhulu (IFP) asked Ms Dawood to explain in detail what she had just said.
Ms Dawood replied the costs have been resolved by the department. They submitted maintenance plan documents to motivate the regulated incremental spending.
The Chairperson said they have covered the entire report. He asked for any further comments.
Ms Khawula referred to page 7 and asked if the department submitted back the motivations because when the Committee speaks about something, they must know if it happens.
The Chairperson replied that the Committee must request the Department to respond in writing. They have adopted the report. He then went through the Report page by page. He suggested that the reference to 2015 be changed to post 2015. He suggested paragraph 4.2 should state that over the medium term, the “budget” and not “spending” is expected to decrease from 15.7 billion to 15.2 billion. It is the budget that decreased; they do not know what the spending will be
Mr Basson said over the medium term the spending of the department is “expected” to decrease.
Ms Baker suggested it should be “budget allocations”.
The Chairperson said the second last sentence on page 5 infrastructure projects are funded through transfers.
The Chairperson said second last sentence from the bottom page 5 how you phrase it, infrastructure project are funding mainly through transfers to the TT. what is another view. On page 8,bullet point number 3, it says “creating jobs to expand economic opportunities”. Which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Do you create opportunities for the economy to grow through job creation or is it not the other way around? His understanding is that you expand the economy to create jobs not the other way around. On page 12, the TCTA discussion does not belong here and he explained why not.
Mr Basson said he had mentioned earlier that the DA only takes note of the report because they still need to present it to their caucus.
Ms Baker suggested that on page 24 we should “acknowledge the budget” not “support the budget”.
The Chairperson said the Committee has the right to adopt the report.
Ms Baker explained what she is saying is “supporting” is not consistent with “acknowledging” or “accepting”. Reporting on the budget is a separate thing to accepting the committee report.
The Chairperson said the Committee Report has been tabled and they have a quorum. Are there issues about adopting the report? Is there a mover for adoption of the report?
Ms Baker reiterated she was not referring to adopting the report but about the phrase “supporting the budget”.
The Chairperson said there is no other person who has an issue with the report. He asked for a mover for the adoption of the Committee Report on the Department of Water and Sanitation 2016/17 strategic plan and annual performance plan and the budget allocations for DWS and its entities.
The adoption of the report was moved and seconded.
Mr Basson said the DA takes note of the report.
The Chairperson said typically this is how these reports are handled, there are no politics, it is a straightforward issue. They bring the report to the community table, engage with it and adopt the report. They just adopted the report right now. The Committee is almost at the tail end of it programme for the term. He outlined the programme for the rest of the term.
The proposed tariffs of the respective water entities cannot go ahead until Parliament has signed off those tariff proposals. The researcher will assist us with information on that and the Committee will look into those proposals from the respective water entities on 18 May. This will probably be the last meeting before they rise.
Ms Khawula said they must be not made rubber stamps on issues. Some people are removed from their land. The Committee must also attend to issues like those ones.
The Chairperson said page 19 of the report is dealing with what you are saying, but they will also take note of that. Even their report agrees with what you are saying. They have to sit down as a Committee and make an introspection on what is happening within our rural society.
Ms Khawula said the Committee has no idea of what happening in those places but in the end it is the MPs facing these matters as people come to us with their complaints. But MPs were not informed of such activities that took place in these areas.
The Chairperson said in closing that the report has been adopted and an announcement will be made.