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JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
19 August 2003
DEPARTMENT EXPENDITURE REPORTS 2003: DISCUSSION
Second Report of the Joint Budget Committee, dated 8 August 2003
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The Committee considered the Second Report which reviewed the national and provincial expenditure reports for April, May and June - the first three months of the financial year. The researchers were asked to add explanations for under and over-spending by particular departments. Only then will the Committee adopt the Second Report.
The Chair proposed looking at the Second Report of the Joint Budget Committee as it is a summary of the expenditure reports of April, May and June.
Mr Hanekom (ANC) suggested that the research unit add to the report, explanations for big spending or very little spending in a month. He added that there might be simple explanations for what looks like irregular spending. An example he used was the Department of Foreign Affairs that has only spent 4.93% of its annual budget in the first quarter of the year. Explanations should be added to the report by the researchers.
After a brief discussion of the report, members decided that clarity was needed on the accuracy of the figures, especially the percentages in Tables 7 and 8. It was also decided that the headings for the tables were misleading and the word "by" should be replaced with "in".
Mr Kgwele (ANC) agreed with Mr Hanekom and suggested that they wait for the explanations for the high and low expenditure before they adopt this report.
Mr Schneeman (ANC) added that there are three departments he would like explanations from. They are Foreign Affairs and Communication for low spending and Education for high spending. He also preferred waiting for the explanations before adopting the report.
The Chairperson requested the researchers to get all the correct information from the departments. When that is done they can move forward with the report.
Mr Hanekom suggested engaging with the chairs of portfolio committees of departments that they request information from. If there is no simple explanation forthcoming, they call the department for a hearing and invite the portfolio committee. He also stressed the need to look at the figures for previous years. It is important to observe trends. He mentioned the provincial expenditure which was much higher this year than in previous ones.
Mr Odendaal (NNP) commented that it is difficult to assess the delivery of services from these figures. He added that the delivery of services was what the government should be aiming for.
The Chair confirmed that the research unit will look at these issues and that the Second Report will come back for endorsement. He also stressed that it is better not too rush things.
The Committee then decided to take up the matter of money bills with the Minister. Currently money bills cannot be amended by Parliament. This means that Parliament cannot amend the budget.
The meeting was adjourned.
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