Environmental Affairs Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

23 October 2019
Chairperson: Mr F Xasa (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Available here once adopted: BRRR 2019 

The Committee met to review and consider the adoption of the draft 2019 Budgetary Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR), as well as the adoption of the draft Committee programme. The Members were satisfied with the BRRR after some amendments, and adopted it and the draft Committee Programme.

The Committee did a page by page review of the BRRR, and engaged in some discussion to make amendments and correct errors. It recommended that the Department should prevent litigation expenditure arising from legal action against it. It discussed alternative fishing application strategies, such as the adoption of an online application and granting system, as well as other expeditious methods such as postal services. It discussed the liability of the South African Weather Services board for the early termination of a previous CEO’s contract, and concluded there would be further investigations on the matter. Members agreed on a 60-day timeframe requirement for the House to report back to the Committee regarding the implementation of its recommendations and action steps. Members felt that the Committee needed a better understanding of its mandate for oversight.

The Committee discussed its plans for an oversight visit to Hout Bay to gain a better understanding of the issues faced by small harbours, and in closing made various service delivery improvement requests to the support staff, such as ensuring hard copy documents were legible and delivered on time. 

Meeting report

The Committee Chairperson opened the meeting and welcomed the Committee Members.

He commented that the outcome of the Auditor General’s (AG’s) annual report was final, and that this meeting would address the outcome of that process. There would be no presentation, and tht the Committee would review the draft Budget Review and Recommendations Report (BRRR) page by page.

The Committee proceeded to review the draft BRRR.

BRRR Review

Mr N Singh (IFP) asked whether the section on performance on page 9 had been corrected.

The Chairperson replied that he would follow up on the matter, and it would be noted whether a correction had been made. 

The Content Advisor commented on an error on page 20 of the report.

The Chairperson agreed that the content advisor was correct, and that the word “former” should be changed to “DDG.”

Mr J Lorimer (DA) referred to the first paragraph on page 22, which stated that the “... the Minister shall ensure that her department makes meaningful contribution to growing and transforming the economy.” He said that the DA has a political difference with the word “transforming”, as it was an ANC policy that the DA did not support. In order for the DA to support the report, the word “transforming” would have to be removed.

The Chairperson noted the DA’s political standing on the matter, but stated that the phrase “growing and transforming” would not be amended.

Ms H Winkler (DA) stated that on page 22, a key recommendation that had not been captured was that the Department should prevent unnecessary expenditure on litigation against it.

The Chairperson noted this recommendation.

Fishing Licence Application

Mr Lorimer said that the licensing system was not user friendly, and that applicants could make a physical application only in Cape Town. This was aimed at compelling small scale fishers to come to Cape Town to make their applications. He recommended that an online application and granting system be established as soon as possible.

The Chairperson noted this recommendation, and replied that there would be an objection to requiring fishers from various parts of the country to come to Cape Town to make applications. However, other alternatives would be accepted.

Mr Singh stated that the application did not have to use an online application only, but rather use alternative expeditious services, such as postal services, to deal with the matter.

South African Weather Service: CEO Liability

Ms Winkler commented on the point involving the South African Weather Service (SAWS) on page 24, and said that the board may be held personally liable for R2 million for the premature termination of a previous CEO’s contract. The Minister was due to report to the board regarding the court proceedings in this regard.

Ms S Mbatha (ANC) asked whether Ms Winkler was referring to the disciplinary issue, where it had been stated that this issue could not be discussed due to labour law regulations.

Ms Winkler replied that she was referring to a previous female CEO, Ms Linda Makuleni, where the previous Portfolio Committee had agreed that the board had to be held accountable. However, there had currently been no information provided to the Committee to verify whether the individual members had been held liable for the R 2 million liability.

The Chairperson responded that the issue had been raised with the Department, and that it formed part of the historical legacy. The Committee would have to make further investigations into the matter.

The content advisor said that the Committee should revisit the report of the previous Committee on the issue.

The Chairperson noted this point, and stressed that the matter had already been raised with the Department and that there would be further investigation on the matter. 

Mr Singh commented on page 26, stating that the Committee should agree on a specific time frame requirement for the House to report back to the Committee on the implementation of the Committee’s action steps and recommendations.

The Chairperson noted this recommendation, and allowed Members to decide on a specific time frame.

The Committee agreed on a time frame of 60 days.

The Chairperson asked the Committee to formally adopt the report.

Ms Mbatha moved the adoption of the amended report.

Mr Singh seconded Ms Mbatha’s motion, and said that each party would only receive two minutes to speak on the report once the report was tabled in Parliament.

The report was adopted.

Committee programme

Mr Singh informed the Committee that he would not be present at the Committee meeting on 29 October, as he would be in Gauteng on other business. The Committee had to reconsider its oversight visit, as the House would be meeting and voting on 25 and 26 October.

The Chairperson noted this query, and stated that there was a note regarding what happened when oversight permission was not granted.

The Chairperson asked for a proposal for the adoption of the programme.

Mr Singh replied that the Committee Members’ respective parties may not permit them to on the oversight visit, as they would be voting in Parliament. Mr Singh raised the issue of the Conference of the Parties (COP) conference on climate change, and asked whether it was intended for a few Members of the Committee to accompany the Department and the Minister, as Members would have to be informed.

The Chairperson said he would follow up on the matter.

He asked if there were any proposals for adoption, and said that there were no objections to the Committee programme.

The programme was adopted.

Oversight visit to Hout Bay

The Chairperson said the intention of the oversight meeting was to gain a better understanding of the issues faced by small harbours.

Ms Winkler said that in the event that the Committee was unable to do the physical oversight visit, an alternative method would be to invite the relevant officials to present to the Committee at Parliament.

The Chairperson noted Ms Winkler’s suggestion, and said that the programme would be adjusted, depending on future developments.

The Committee adopted the proposal.

Support staff requests

The Committee Secretary asked if Members had any service issues or service requests that they would like to address.

The Chairperson said that the Committee should consider the practicality of hard copy documents, and commented that the Committee had issues with documents not being delivered on time.

Ms Mbatha requested the adoption of meeting minutes to allow for better compilation of reports and auditing of resolutions. She also requested that the secretary and support staff to verify whether the font for Committee documents was legible before printing to ensure that Members with visual impairments were able to read them. Ms Mbatha also asked that the secretary use both emailed soft copies and hard copy documents, as Members did not always have access to soft copies.

Mr Singh thought that the BRRR had been well drafted and commended the report drafters. He asked the secretary to send text message meeting reminders to the Committee.

Ms N Gantsho (ANC) asked if the Committee could provide a workshop on oversight, to provide an understanding of what was required of them at oversight visits.

The Content Adviser stressed that the Committee minutes had to be on par with the Parliamentary standards for minutes. The resolution minutes were essential for tracking the Committee’s progress. Ms Mbatha’s grievance about the font being illegible in the hard copies were noted, and he advised the Committee to use soft copies during the meetings in addition to hard copies, as it allowed one to change the font to one’s preference.

The Chairperson replied that oversight was the Committee’s mandate, and that he would further investigate how the Committee should engage in oversight.

He concluded that the Committee had provided enough feedback in its discussion on oversight to allow it to devise a strategy to provide a better understanding on oversight.

The meeting was adjourned.

Documents

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