National Revenue, Expenditure & Borrowing Statements; SAHRC Economic & Social Rights Report; FFC Recommendations

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


12 September 2003

Mr N M Nene (ANC)

Relevant documents:
Statement of National Revenue, Expenditure and Borrowing as at 31 July 2003
Chapter 13 of SAHRC 4th Economic and Social Rights Report
Financial Fiscal Commission Recommendations on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2004/2007
Financial Fiscal Commission Recommendations: Executive Summary

The Committee met to discuss the Statement of National Revenue, Expenditure and Borrowing for July 2003, Chapter 13 of SAHRC 4th Economic and Social Rights Report and the Financial and Fiscal Commission recommendations. It decided that a two phase process should be followed with regard to the Statement and that a letter be sent to the National Treasury asking for assistance while at the same time inviting the CFO's of the departments to appear before it. It also decided that the SAHRC AND FFC be invited to appear before the Committee.

Statement of National Revenue, Expenditure and Borrowing as at 31 July 2003
The Chair noted that the expenditure reports received by the Committee from the departments for July did not have their cash flow projections. Without this it would be very difficult for the Committee to judge the performance of departments since it is not feasible to do so based only on figures. He proposed that this matter be held over until the Committee has received the cash flow projections of departments or responses to that effect.

Mr J Mohlala (ANC) said that it would be important for the Committee to conduct its own research and not just rely on the figures provided. This would help the Committee a great deal in understanding and analysing those projections.

The Chair noted that the Committee researcher had taken note of Mr Mohlala's comment.

Dr G Woods (IFP) said that while the Committee needs the departments' strategic plans, at the same time it also needs their service delivery plans, which flow from those strategic plans. This service delivery plan should clearly state on a month-by-month basis how a particular department intends to deliver and how it intends to spend its budget.

The Chair welcomed the suggestion by Dr Woods and noted that the whole process is aimed at monitoring so as to ensure that there is quality in expenditure and outputs. A letter would be written to the departments requesting such information.

Dr Woods noted that it would be beneficiary for the Committee to call a selection of Chief Financial Officers from the departments to come and explain how they plan their expenditures. This would help the Committee in getting a deeper understanding of the difficulties experienced by the departments and thus see how it could provide assistance.

The Chair said that if the Committee follows Dr Woods' proposal to call in the Chief Financial Officers, he was not sure if these departments should identified individually or as a cluster, but he would like the Department of Education to be present.

Mr L Kgwele (ANC) had a different proposition to that of Dr Woods. He said that the first step is to write to the National Treasury, as the Committee had previously agreed, and ask it to assist the Committee in getting this information. The departments should only be summonsed when the departments fail to co-operate with the Committee's request.

Dr Woods noted that his proposal and that of Mr Kgwele do not necessarily contradict since they are emanate from different levels. He accepts Mr Kgwele's proposal which is based on understanding the information before the Committee. However he would also like the Committee to get a broader understanding of the operation of the entire system from the CFOs, as experienced by them in their normal course of work.

The Committee accepted that the two are not necessarily in conflict and could therefore both be undertaken.

SA Human Rights Commission Economic and Social Rights Report: Chapter 13
The Chair said that the South Africa Human Rights Commission would be invited to brief the Committee since the Report only gives account of what the Commission researched two years ago, that is 2001. The Report alleges that the budget process does not allow nor give effect to the progressive realisation of social and economic rights. The Committee would have to get the response of National Treasury on the matter since they have been in communication with the SAHRC throughout the process.

Mr Kgwele endorsed the view that the SAHRC should be invited to appear before the Committee. He said that it was not only this Committee that finds it difficult to process some of the recommendations and observations of the SAHRC, but other parliamentary committees have also had the same experience. When those committees called on their departments to air their views, in some instances they disputed the SAHRC observations and recommendations. He emphasised that the departments and the SAHRC differed not only on the level of recommendations but also with the observations.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the SAHRC should be invited to appear before it.

Financial Fiscal Commission Recommendations
The Chair noted that the Commission has made recommendations on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework 2004/2007. The Commission would appear before it when the Committee deals with the Medium Term Budget Policy statement, however it would be advantageous to have them appear before that.

The Committee unanimously agreed that the FFC should be invited to appear before it and brief it on the recommendations.

The meeting was adjourned.


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