The Committee met to consider and adopt its Reports on Budget Votes 3 and 32, respectively, these being the Department of Communications and Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services. The Reports were adopted with amendments.
During deliberations on the Reports, Members were still unclear on a number of matters including how the R1 billion the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) claimed to have saved was used to address its challenges; whether the introduction of technology at the South African Post Office would impact on personnel; the Amendment of the Broadcasting Act; how investment in local content would increase revenue and whether the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) would indeed complete the “Must Carry” regulation during the current financial year.
The Committee would engage with all the entities to obtain clarity on all outstanding matters and challenges relating to the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) and commitments made.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone present and submitted to Members that due to time constraints in the previous meeting, the Committee was unable to engage with all the entities thoroughly. Follows ups with entities would be arranged to discuss challenges relating to the Annual Performance Plans (APPs) in terms of how they cope with those challenges, skills audit and follow up on commitments made. However, he hoped that Members had applied themselves while going through the Draft Reports so that if there were any concerns, comments or questions could be forwarded to the entities.
Consideration of Budget Vote 3: Department of Communications
The Chairperson led the Members through the Report.
Mr L Molala (ANC) noted the SA Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) claimed to have saved R1 billion from its efforts to resuscitate the Corporation, but there was no detail on what the money was used for. Should it not be used to address some of the challenges facing the Corporation? Further, how much of that money actually helped the Corporation? A detailed analysis about where that R1 billion went to would be fruitful for Members.
The Chairperson responded that even though the SABC saved R1 billion, the expenditure was still very high. The debt and prominent challenges persisted amid the R1 billion that was saved. He suggested that perhaps the Committee could closely monitor how the R1 billion was used.
The Report was then adopted with the proposed amendments on grammatical and spelling errors. No substantive changes were made to the content of the Report.
The Chairperson thanked the Members and indicated that on the next engagement with the SABC, the SABC needs to share more details on how investing on local content would increase revenue; the Amendment of the Broadcasting Act and the “Must Carry” regulations which the Independent Communications Authority of SA (ICASA) committed to complete in the current financial year.
Consideration of Budget Vote 32: Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services
The Chairperson led the Members through the Report page by page.
Mr C Mackenzie (DA) said the South African Post Office (SAPO) Annual Performance Plan mentioned the reduction of personnel but the Committee Report outlines the opposite. He asked for some clarity on this.
The Chairperson responded that no clarity was provided by SAPO on how that reduction would happen. It could be through retirements or resignations but not necessarily lay-offs. He advised that more engagements would take place with the entities.
Mr Mackenzie sought for clarity on whether the introduction of technology in SAPO would bring in new personnel or the current personnel would be up-skilled. Usually, the opposite of the latter is true when the introduction of technology takes place in an organisation. He suggested the Report say ‘…up-skilling of existing employees...’ because it gave an impression that new personnel would be brought on board.
Members agreed to the amendment.
The Chairperson submitted the Report for adoption with the amendments made.
The Report was adopted with all the proposed amendments.
The Chairperson advised that the Committee minutes would be considered in the next meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
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