Stats SA, DPME & DPSA budget: Committee Reports

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Meeting Summary

The Committee considered three of its Budget Vote Reports for Vote 10, the Department of Public Service and Administration, Vote 8, the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Vote 12, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA).

Members added recommendations to all Reports on matters relating to revision and update of the Ministerial Handbook, ensuring public servants cannot do business with the government and intentions to raise legislative changes.

With DPME, Members made recommendations relating to review of the National Development Plan, filling vacancies, looking at the findings of the Auditor-General and funding, in the case of StatsSA.

The ANC and NFP voted in favour of adoption of the Committee’s Report on Budget Vote 10, while the EFF objected and the DA reserved their right.

All parties voted in favour of the adoption of Committee’s Report on Budget Vote 12, while the DA reserved their right.

The ANC and NFP voted in favour of the adoption of Committee’s Report on Budget Vote 8, while the EFF objected and the DA reserved their right.

Meeting report

Opening Remarks
The Chairperson read apologies and welcomed the Committee and all guests to the meeting.

Mr Julius Ngoepe, Content Advisor introduced himself and the three Budget Vote Reports of the Committee.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on the Consideration of Budget Vote 10: Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA)
The Chairperson led the Committee through the DPSA Budget Vote 10 report page-by-page. 

Ms R Lesoma (ANC) referred to page seven.  She wanted to ensure the estimates and numbers are crosschecked.

Ms M Clarke (DA) referred to page six, and the statement that public servants are not allowed to do business with the state. She would like a report on all the Directors-Generals, and whether they have been cleared by the Public Service Commission (PSC).

The Chairperson reminded the Committee it was dealing with the DPSA Budget Vote 10, but the request will be noted.

Ms Lesoma agreed with the request made by Ms Clarke.

Ms M Ntuli (ANC) referred to page eight wanting to ensure it confirms Table One, as mentioned previously by Ms Lesoma.

Mr Ngoepe stated the Report has been quality assured, with the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE) from the National Treasury.

Dr L Schreiber (DA) referred to the previous meeting, and the Annual Performance Plan (APP) of the PSC.  He noted the focus on legal changes, and how that is not reflected in the DPSA Budget Vote 10 Report.  He asked if this was the correct forum to include this.  Would legal changes be included in the Policy Priorities section on page 18?  He further noted it is a general question.  Is there space in the Rport to note the PSC and the intention to look at reviewing legislation?

Ms Lesoma suggested the inclusion of Dr Schreiber’s question when dealing with observations from the Committee.

Observations and Recommendations
Dr Schreiber referred to 10.1.3, asked to adjust the language to reflect that the Minister made an undertaking to present the Ministerial Handbook.

Mr Ngoepe stated that 10.1.3 was just an observation.  He asked the Committee to look at page 26, where the Committee made a recommendation to emphasise what was observed.

Ms Lesoma suggested the Chairperson lead the Committee through the Observations and Key Findings and Recommendations sections point-by-point.

Mr Ngoepe and the Chairperson both agreed with the suggestion.  Thus, the Chairperson led the Committee though the Observations and Key Findings section.

Dr Schreiber reminded the Committee of his previous comment on 10.1.3.

Mr Ngoepe read through and presented the Recommendations section.

Dr Schreiber recommended a slight modification on Recommendation 11.1.

Mr Ngoepe read the recommendation aloud as follows “the Department should brief and consider the recommendations from the Committee”.

Dr Schreiber approved of the recommendation.

Ms Nutuli asked that the Committee be briefed about any revision made to the Ministerial Handbook.

Ms Lesoma reiterated that the Committee would like to be briefed on any changes to the Ministerial Handbook.  She asked who is supposed to have the first bite on the Ministerial Handbook, in terms of its process and completion.  Is it the Portfolio Committee?  Is it the Presidency?  She wants to be sure that the Committee is careful in how it crafted its recommendations, so that the Committee does not overstep its oversight.  She noted that administrative matters are a part of Committee oversight.

Dr Schreiber referenced Observation 10.1.3.  He stated that if there is discontent, this necessitates the Committee to exercise oversight.  He feels it is within the mandate for the Committee to ask for a briefing, and in response, raise matters and recommendations.  It remains up to the Executive as to whether the Department will accept Committee recommendations.

Ms Lesoma asked that the relevant Committee should pick up on those matters if it is not within the oversight ambit of this Committee.

Mr Ngoepe suggested the Committee leaves the recommendation as it was, and rather invite the Department to come and brief the Committee on the contents of the Ministerial Handbook.  There, the Committee can directly submit its recommendations. 

The Chairperson agreed with the recommendation.

Dr Schreiber asked for clarification - is the suggestion to leave the recommendation as it was?  If so, will the Department brief the Committee?

Mr Ngoepe said the Committee can make further recommendations on the Ministerial Handbook during the Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) later in the year.

Both Dr Schreiber and the Chairperson were satisfied with the suggestion.

Ms Lesoma wanted to be sure that Recommendation 11.2 also includes people living with disabilities.

She also made a note about Recommendation11.3.  Her recommendation is that the Department ensure government departments reduce the backlog of disciplinary cases, and then report to the Committee almost immediately.

Mr Ngoepe said that her point is noted, and 11.3 will be redrafted and made concise.

Dr Schreiber felt the language is unclear in 11.6.  He asked if the anomaly that is being referred to is performance bonuses.  He wants it to be rewritten and clear what is being curbed in Recommendation 11.6.

Mr Ngoepe noted his point.

Ms Lesoma asked if Recommendation 11.7 is addressing a policy matter or an administrative process matter.  She asked if this recommendation is perhaps better placed in DPME Budget Vote Report.

Ms Clarke was not against the recommendation.  She did however think that there should be some process that allows public servants to be skilled.

Ms Lesoma suggests the recommendation is re-crafted to capture public servants doing business with government.

Ms Ntuli was confused about where the recommendation really belongs. She was concerned about the phrasing and interpretation of Department policy.

Ms Lesoma thought the in-house training should be captured under the section dealing with the National School of Government (NSG) – this training would talk to the performance of the Department and that its work must add value to the NSG.  

Mr Ngoepe noted that Recommendation11.7 is about emphasising awareness.  Regardless of DPSA efforts, there are still a number of public servants doing business with government.

Dr Schreiber wanted to note that the Committee has twice referenced to scrapping of experience of entry-level positions. It is important to note that the Department be careful about this.

Ms Lesoma recommends that 11.7 should say the Department use all media platforms to raise awareness of the new reforms within public service.

Ms Ntuli and Dr Schreiber supported the rephrasing as suggested by Ms Lesoma, with the core of the matter being basic communication.

Mr Ngoepe noted the changes to Recommendation 11.7

Ms Lesoma asked about Recommendation 11.2 - mandatory training for Director-Generals.  She also asked about making it mandatory for the Executive Authority to also attend training.  She felt it would improve administrative management.

Mr Ngoepe was not sure whether the National School of Government is responsible for training the Executive Authority.  The School is established to train public servants.

Ms Lesoma reiterated her point that the compulsory training assist in terms of public sector performance.

Dr Schreiber agreed.

Mr Ngoepe noted the main emphasis of Recommendation 11.2 is to build ethical public servants.

Ms Ntuli emphasised the training needs to be aligned to follow certain qualifications and needs to be required for all.

Mr Mlungisi Biyela, Committee Researcher, clarified there is a Compulsory Induction Programme for those new and entering public service. The emphasis is that on the strategic and policy level, public servants should all be trained.

Mr Ngoepe noted the recommendations for 11.12.

Ms Lesoma recommended for 11.14, the Minister should also encourage other Ministers to test innovative solutions, rather than just marketing innovative solutions.

The recommendation was noted by Mr Ngoepe.

Dr Schreiber suggested that under R10.1.22, the Committee adds an observation that states the Committee notes the intention of the PSC to raise legislative changes.

Mr Ngoepe agreed with Dr Schreiber.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on the Consideration of Budget Vote 8: Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME)
The Chairperson led the Committee through the DMPE Budget Vote 8 Report page-by-page.

Ms Lesoma wanted to ensure that the numbers represented on page six and seven 7 are confirmed to be consistent.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed the numbers have been cross-checked and are a true reflection.  He also emphasised that the National Youth Development Agency and the National Youth Programme are migrating to the Department of Women, Youth, and People with Disabilities.  The process has yet to unfold.

Dr Schreiber asked to confirm that the budget on page 14 is accurate.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed the numbers on page 14 are a true reflection of what is in the ENE from National Treasury.

Observations and Recommendations
Mr G Cachalia (DA) referred to page 18.  He noted the intention to review the National Development Plan (NDP).

Dr Schreiber clarified that under the Observations section, on page 18, the Committee would like to suggest an additional observation that there is an intention from DMPE to review aspects of the NDP.

The Chairperson understood and led the Committee through the Observations and Key Findings section.

Dr Schreiber observed that there is a gap at 12.12 and would like to note an intention to update the NDP.

Ms Lesoma agreed with Dr Schreiber. 

Mr Ngeope noted the observation.  He led the Committee through the Recommendations section.

Ms Lesoma noted that part of the responsibility of the Committee, as public representatives, is to conduct unannounced visits to government facilities.

Mr Ngeope emphasised the Department does both announced and unannounced visits.  The intention of 13.5 is that the Department must conduct more unannounced visits.  Members of the Committee can visit as well, but the recommendation is specifically referring to the DPME.

Dr Schreiber noted recommendation 13.8 is about filling vacancies.  He felt the recommendations and expressing alarm about filling the vacancy rate is not enough.  He felt it is deeper than calling to fill vacancies. 

Ms Lesoma stated that the matter should be flagged.  She would like the DPSA to return in three months and report about a new plan to resolve the previous matter.

Dr Schreiber agreed, and felt it is fair to the other entities.  He felt providing more information about filling vacancies will be beneficial to all entities who are involved.

Mr Ngeope noted the request and will include it in the DPSA vote as that is where it is most applicable.  He ensured all recommendations and observations will be reflected in the Report and communicated to the Committee.

Ms Lesoma asked about 13.11.  Who should fill the posts? Is it the Minister?  She felt the Minister should ensure it happens.

Mr Ngeope explained it is the responsibility of the Minister. 

Ms Ntuli asked about the eight-month timeframe for the recommendation.

Mr Ngoepe emphasised the importance of placing timeframes on recommendations.

Ms Ntuli followed up and noted the Department still might take longer than eight months.  She suggested placing more pressure on the Department.

Ms Lesoma agreed, but acknowledged the Department may need time to make its changes.  She thought the Department should return in eight months with a plan to fill posts and resolve matters. 

Ms Lesoma wanted to include auditors in recommendation 13.12.

Mr Ngoepe noted the recommendation.

Ms Lesoma recommended removing recommendation 13.15.  She felt it is redundant.

Mr Ngoepe agreed.

Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on the Consideration of Budget Vote 12 Statistics SA (StatsSA)
The Chairperson led the Committee through the StatsSA Budget Vote 12 report page-by-page.

Ms Lesoma wanted to ensure all numbers have been crosschecked.

Mr Ngoepe confirmed the numbers reflected in the Report are in line with the ENE.

Observations and Recommendation
The Chairperson led the Committee through the Observations and Key Finding Section.

Mr Cachalia noted the Minister had some concerns about the level of funding of StatsSA.  He felt it appropriate to note that funding is crucial to the development of policy. 

Ms Lesoma agreed, and noted 8.7 and 8.10 touch on the matter of funding as well.

Dr Schreiber stated the matter is worth a separate recommendation, specifically relating to funding. 

Mr Cachalia and Ms Lesoma agreed.

Mr Ngoepe led the Committee through the Recommendations section.

Mr Cachalia felt recommendation 9.2 is vague. 

Dr Schreiber agreed and would like the recommendation to be more forceful.

Ms Lesoma noted the Committee is not suggesting that StatsSA is not transparent, but that the Committee is assisting StatsSA.

Mr Ngoepe directed the Committee to look at 9.5.

Dr Schreiber wanted to include that StatsSA should find strategic partners to provide data to drive the economy.

The Chairperson asked where to include the new recommendation.
 
Ms Lesoma suggested returning to the recommendation later.

Dr Schreiber asked how the March 2020 date in recommendation 9.4 was determined.

Mr Ngoepe explained the date allows StatsSA space to make changes if necessary.

Mr Cachalia noted  his previous recommendation about funding should be included under 9.5.

Mr Ngoepe noted the urgency for recommendation for 9.5.

Adoption of Committee Reports on Budget Votes 10, 8 and 12
Mr C Sibisi (NFP) moved for adoption of the Committee Report on DPSA Budget Vote 10 with amendments.

The motion was seconded by Ms M Kibi (ANC).

Ms M Mokause (EFF), speaking on behalf of the EFF, objected to the Committee Report on Budget Vote 10.

Dr Schreiber on behalf of the DA, reserved their right to vote.

Ms Lesoma moved for adoption of the Committee Report on StatsSA Budget Vote 12 with amendments.

The motion was seconded by Ms Ntuli.

Dr Schreiber on behalf of the DA, reserved their right to vote.

Ms Mokause, on behalf of the EFF, supported the Committee Report on Budget Vote 12.

Mr Sibisi moved for adoption of the Committee report on DPME Vote 8 with amendments.

The motion was seconded by Ms Kibi.

Mr Cachalia and Dr Schreiber, on behalf of the DA, reserved their right to vote.

Ms Mokause, speaking on behalf of the EFF, objected to the Committee Report on Budget Vote 8.


Reports of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration as well as Planning Monitoring and Evaluation on Budget Vote 10, the Department of Public Service and Administration, Vote 8, the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) and Vote 12, Statistics South Africa (StatsSA) were adopted with amendments.

The Chairperson deferred the adoption of Committee meeting minutes to the next meeting.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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