The Joint Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Steering Committee allowed the Portfolio Committee on Women in the Presidency to meet briefly to adopt the Budget Review Recommendations Report.
The Secretariat presented the draft report. A concern had been raised in the Committee that even though the Department of Women was mandated to promote gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, it had failed to ensure BBBEE compliance in terms of services providers for the Department. The lack of accountability by the Accounting Officer, and specific issues related to Supply Chain Management, including the number of invoices paid outside of the legislated 30-day period were issues noted with concern by the Committee.
The large number of virements between programmes suggested poor planning and, in particular, the committee noted the virement of R1.6 million made without approval from National Treasury. International travel had increased dramatically but no details had been received regarding the increase and the nature of the additional costs. There were still Departmental issues around case management and moving from a manual to an IT system.
A Member of the Committee suggested that the Department should provide documents seven working days before a meeting, but without the opt-out option of giving an excuse in writing for not doing so. The Committee agreed as there had been complaints about reports not being submitted since 2014.
The Budget Review Recommendations Report was adopted with the amendments.
The Acting Chairperson thanked the Chairperson of the Joint Multi-Party Women’s Caucus Steering Committee for the giving the Committee time to meet while the Caucus meeting is in progress. Apologies had been received from the Chairperson, Ms T Mamela (ANC), but there was the urgent matter of finalising and adopting the Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) that had to be submitted that day, despite the fact that a debate would, unexpectedly, be held in the House that afternoon.
The intention of the meeting was only to review and adopt the BRRR.
Women in the Presidency Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report
The Secretariat presented the draft report. The date of adoption had been changed to 18 October 2017. Technically the reports from the Department of Women were seven months late as the year under review had ended seven months previously. The Department had been asked to submit ongoing reports when events or campaigns were held.
A concern had been raised in the Committee that even though the Department was mandated to promote gender equality and the economic empowerment of women, it had failed to ensure BBBEE compliance in terms of services providers. That had been one of the Auditor General’s findings. The Committee had also noted with concern the Auditor General’s findings about the lack of accountability by the Accounting Officer, especially in relation to instances where items had been signed by officials other than the Accounting Officer. There were also specific issues related to Supply Chain Management. The Committee had noted, with concern, the number of invoices paid outside of the legislated 30-day period. The Committee had requested information in respect of the total cost of invoices paid outside that the 30-day period and the reason for the delayed payment, which had not been disclosed in the Annual Report.
The Committee had expressed concern about the large number of virements between programmes which suggested poor planning and, in particular, the Committee had noted the virement of R1.6 million made without approval from National Treasury. International travel had increased from R11.4 million to R17.1 million but no details had been received regarding that increase and the nature of the additional costs.
The report on national dialogues had been received on Monday, 16 October. The Department had only targeted three country reports that year but the Committee had not received SADC report. A number of reports had been received but not during the year under review. The Department had not yet submitted policy and law reforms. The Department had said it was looking at business cases according to the nine-point plan but the Committee had yet to receive any reports on what they had assessed and what they had found.
The Department had dealt with the roll-over of cases so that had to be removed from the BRRR, but there were still issues around case management and moving from a manual to an IT system.
Recommendations remained largely the same as had been agreed upon in previous meetings.
An additional recommendation was that the energy consultants ensured that there was skills transfer to the Department.
In respect of Supply Chain Management (SCM), the Committee recommended a monthly report on SCM deviations and transgressions and what action had been taken against officials who had not followed SCM policies.
The Committee recommended that relationships be developed with local municipalities.
Events and campaigns were noted. The Department had been requested to provide a briefing on year-on-year gender responsive budgeting. It had submitted an eight-page document which it called a business plan on gender responsive budgeting. The Second Quarterly Report by the Department Gender was to take place on 14 November 2017 and the Committee would ask for a specific report on gender budgeting. The Department had said that it had been working with the Department of Public Service and Administration on the gender focal points and policy. The Committee required regular updates and reports on what was taking place in the Department and local government. There was a need for an assessment during the year, and not just at the end of the year.
The Committee recommended that the Department send all reports with documents seven days before presentation and, if it failed to do so, an explanation had to be sent in writing. All reports should be submitted within 30 days of completion.
The secretariat added that the Auditor General had given a commitment to attend quarterly meetings and she asked whether the Committee wanted the Head of Internal Audit to attend. The secretariat would document the issues that needed attention. There had to be a meeting with the Commission for Gender Equality to discuss the Auditor General’s Report and Chapter 9 institutions.
The Acting Chairperson asked whether Committee Members were ready to adopt the Report.
Ms D Robinson (DA) suggested that the Department should provide documents seven working days beforehand but without the opt-out option of giving an excuse in writing.
Ms Cheu agreed that there had been complaints about reports not being submitted since 2014.
The adoption of the Budget Review and Recommendations Report was proposed by Ms G Tseke (ANC) and Ms D Robinson (DA).
The Chairperson thanked the Members for their contributions and for adopting the report. She thanked the secretariat for the work done.
The meeting was adjourned
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