The Portfolio Committee on Economic Development met to consider and make amendments to the Report of the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development on Budget Vote 25 and the Annual Performance Plans of the Department of Economic Development. Members were mainly concerned about the language medium and jargon used in these reports, at the end of the day, it is the people who need to be able to read and understand the report. One Member even suggested that the report be in a vernacular language since some members of the South African society do not understand English nor can they read it. The Committee made amendments, particularly on the recommendations and observations found in the report. The Committee then went through the edited document page by page to see if the changes made were acceptable. After consideration of the report, it was adopted with changes.
The Chairperson indicated that in the last term, the fourth Parliament; they attempted to ask because they wanted the Independent Development Trust (IDT) to disclose information on people they are doing business with and they were then informed that information cannot be disclosed prior to approval from their clients. The Committee even requested the services of their leaders after getting clarity from the Speaker’s office, and the legal office to clarify rules in as far as the rule of disclosure is concerned. It was found that the disclosure of information by ITC was permissible as far as their agreement with the clients was concerned. But nothing is stopping them if they feel that there is a matter at hand which they would like to clarify with a particular company to select that company and then bring it to clarification through the ICT.
It was not the first time the Committee was doing this although they did not then approach it from the Annual Performance Plan (APP) position but approached it as a disclosure issue because they were concerned that there were certain companies from which they did not have full information and therefore did not understand where they came from, where they get money from and so on. She did not think there would be any problem in focusing on the particular matter going forward because it would bring clarity. The matter came with the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC) through questions but the way they dealt with it she did not think it would need further discussion.
If Doctor Cardo raises it then the Minister will be able to respond to that but for the Committee it is important to formalise the discussions around the APP issue to get clarity from the IDC as to what they understand by that and inform themselves so that they can have a position as a Committee. Dr Cardo agreed to that.
The Chairperson referred everyone to page 20 and asked if everyone was okay with the page. There were no responses so she moved to page 21 and there was no issue. They then moved to page 22 and asked if everyone was satisfied with page 22. They then moved to page 23.
The Chairperson asked whether the Minister tabled the report prior or after they had discussed it.
The Members answered it was after they discussed it.
The Chairperson therefore made a grammatical correction and they went to page 24. She asked them to focus on observations.
Mr P Atkinson (DA) said he cannot recall the discussion about transformation. He asked whether the Commission expressed a view on the matter.
The Chairperson asked that they start with the first bullet. She read out “the need to review the organisational structure of the commission” and said they need to clarify what was meant by this, and why they need the organisational structure to be reviewed.
Mr S Tleane (ANC) said they were indicating that there is an increase in the work that they are doing and needed additional capacity to be able to undertake the responsibilities being proper. If this were to happen the structure as it is known needed to change so that they do not have people coming in on a temporary basis but have people within the structure who will be sufficient in terms of capacity so that the Commission is able to do its work properly. It was in that context that the organisational structure was reviewed.
The Chairperson then asked Members of the Committee if this was their understanding as well. She thought there was increase in their programmes and in the measures in terms of the number of requests that they are getting. She then asked members to go to the second bullet. There were questions earlier on the transformation in the field of competition law and asked Mr Atkinson to clarify that.
Mr Atkinson asked for clarity whether they are talking about transformation in the field of competition law or internal transformation.
The Chairperson said in the field of competition and that is why they asked them to increase the marketing of their work. They are doing this by going to schools but have increased their marketing at university level by issuing bursaries. That is the context of transformation. It is important that they clarify what they mean so that even a member of the public can understand what is said or what is meant by transformation in the field of competition. She said “sustainability of the costly nature of marketing” needs to be clarified.
Mr I Pikinini (ANC) said it is sustainability in terms of affordability and there are so many markets, it depletes the resources. Thus, he said they were discussing it in that context that they need to focus more on the cost-effective markets.
The Chairperson asked if they agree they can go on to the next page which is page 25.
Mr Tleane made a grammatical correction.
The Chairperson asked if everyone was satisfied with the correction and there was unanimous agreement. She then asked to continue to page 26 and there was no comment so they went on to page 27. On page 27 she requested Members to verify the numbers. There were no observations on page 27 so she asked that the Committee move to page 28. She also asked there was any observation made on page 28.
Mr Atkinson did not recall any observation that the Committee made on page 28.
The Chairperson said they must remember the issue of the shortage of personnel outside the Commission, the challenge was that they are not able to get the previously disadvantaged. This thus posed challenges on transformation because of low budget. They advised that the constituency office must assist the Commission in this regard. This was mentioned under recommendations instead of observations in the report because their problem is not necessarily around the commissioner, the law prescribed they could also get a practitioner to enable them to reach the target. They even indicated that the loan from the Competition Commission was 16 while the Commission registered 23. They need to gather that information and request them to assist. This was the only recommendation they had.
Mr B Molefe (ANC) made a grammatical correction. He also mentioned the importance of using jargon which does not help the lay people to understand the document. He recommended the use of vernacular languages and said they cannot assume that the people are well versed in English because that is not the case.
The Chairperson agreed to this and asked that this issue be incorporated. She asked that they proceed to page 29 and when nothing was picked up, she asked that they move to page 30. On page 30 she made a grammatical correction and moved to page 31. No correction was made on page 31 so they moved to page 32. On page 32 she made a grammatical correction and asked that they move to page 33. She asked the members to clarify what they would like to say and what was their observation about the issue of free post.
Mr Molefe said that they always wanted the role of the Deputy to be clearly defined so that they are not just a token there.
The Chairperson asked if these changes can be effected and Members agreed. Everyone being happy with the observations thus far they can move to recommendations. The observations must talk to the issues there. She asked in what sense the capacity of the Committee can be strengthened.
Mr B Cele (ANC) said the Committee consists of about 11 people and all they need to do is to make sure that they work and that they monitor.
The Chairperson did not think that the Committee lacked capacity, just that they are not organised. She asked that they make a grammatical correction to the paragraph 3 and the Members are agreed.
Mr Atkinson made a grammatical correction.
The Chairperson asked that the changes made thus far be printed.
Consideration of the report
The Chairperson took the Committee through the report page by page.
Ms D Rantho (ANC) asked whether they are verifying the changes they made earlier
The Chairperson said yes. She asked about page 5 and when there was no comment she moved to page 6 and 7 concurrently. When there was no comment she asked about page 8 and 9, and there was no comment. She asked about page 10 and when there was no comment she moved to page 11 and 12. She asked about page 13 and 14 when there was no comment about page 12. There were no comments about page 13 and 14 so she moved to page 15. She moved to page 16
Mr Molefe asked about the edition on page 16 concerning the “R16 billion in loan”. He noted that it was underlined and asked whether it was because it would be removed.
The Chairperson answered yes, it was for the purpose that it will be removed and asked that they move to page 17. There was no comment on page 17 so they moved to page 18. There was also no comment on 19 and 20 so they moved to 21. There was no comment on pages 22, 23 and 24 so they moved to page 25. On page 25 the Chairperson asked if the Members were comfortable with how the observations were written on the page and they answered yes. She then asked that they move to page 26, 27 and 28 to which there were no comments from Members. She made a grammatical correction on page 28.
Ms C Matsimbi (ANC) asked whether the correction made by the Chairperson about posts or vacancies did not refer to panel members.
The Chairperson said it referred to practitioners. She asked that they have a look at page 29, 30 and 31. When there were comments she asked that they go to page 32.
Mr Molefe made a grammatical correction
Mr L Kwankwa (UDM) suggested that look at paragraph 3 now because they need to resolve.
The Chairperson asked that they put a question mark on paragraph 3 until it is resolved because they need to first visit their plans to see if it is covered and asked that if it is covered they can delete paragraph 3, and if not it will be kept. She then moved to page 33 and 34 and there was no comment.
The Chairperson asked if everyone is happy, she would like to get an indication for the adoption.
Ms Matsimbi seconded the adoption
The Chairperson stated that the report is adopted and it will be recorded as such. She thanked the Members for their attendance and cooperation
The meeting was adjourned.
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