The Portfolio Committee welcomed new board members of the South African Post Office who were inducted on 1 November. The SAPO board chairperson said that the post office is emerging from a long winter. SAPO had previously not been performing well, its investment is under threat and its sustainability is under question. It has received a qualified audit that highlighted governance concerns and wasteful expenditure. SAPO needs to provide a full range of modern postal services. Management wants to revive its public image, address its performance challenges and re-examine its outdated business model. It is committed to clean governance and Vision 2030.
The SAPO Acting GCEO said that SAPO had not been profitable over the last 13 years except in 2006 when a profit of R276m was made, which excluded the subsidy for its Universal Service Obligation (USO). When its USO subsidy was suspended in 2012/13 along with the four month strike in 2014 led to a loss of over R800m. For the 2019/20 MTEF, its USO grant allocation is R1.5 billion over the medium term to fund its public service mandate. In January 2019 SAPO received a R2.9bn additional allocation to fund future capital investment. The funding received had been used to settle historical legacy creditor backlogs, staff conversion from part-time to permanent as part of collective agreements and amendment to legislation, and staff salary increases. The balance remaining as of October 2019 was R1.4bn.
The GCFO gave a financial overview for March to September 2019. SAPO is operating at a net loss. Without profitability, SAPO will end up continually depleting its assets. The focus of the 2019 funding was to ring fence that money to pour into infrastructure. The R2.9bn allocated to SAPO in January 2019 has a balance of R1bn to fund future capital investment.
The SAPO action plans were listed; 33% of its 2018/19 audit findings had been resolved; and a report was given on the governance and operational challenges. Employee costs account for more than 70% of gross revenue. The staff optimisation process has been implemented with 776 employees leaving over the next year through the Voluntary Severance Package (VSP). The audit findings on fruitless and wasteful expenditure were discussed in the Financial Misconduct Committee and disciplinary action will be undertaken if recommended. The SAPO Acting GCEO also spoke about the turnaround in relation to connectivity and the status of the network upgrade project status; security infrastructure plan; trust centre; staff optimisation to reduce the high wage bill; critical vacancies; brand repositioning; catalytic initiatives; the Hundred Day plan; 90 day deliverables for the board; the way forward on turnaround and the Clareinch post office investigation. She ended by sharing the re-imagined and refurbished post office prototype.
Long-serving committee members said that they had been listening to board after board and CEO after CEO insisting that they would turn around the Post Office year after year with just an additional R1 billion or R2 billion. They had been told that the post office would have turned a profit by 2020, but the CFO had now told them it will not. Members expressed alarm that Postbank is splitting from the Post Office group. They wanted to know the reason for this as they had been told three different stories. They wanted more details on the agreement to compensate for the loss caused by the separation and how it would be accounted for financially. They requested the new SAPO board skill set. If the new board was saying that SAPO was running under an outdated model, what had Mark Barnes been doing for the past three years?
Members said that they could not support the closing of any post offices in rural areas. They agreed about the e-commerce initiatives. Some post offices may not be profitable, but they may also be providing a necessary service. How can you ensure that you are careful in your money-saving and retrenchment processes? On branding, members agreed that the Post Office had lost a lot of credibility in communities. Post offices are dilapidated. Members collectively stressed that they needed a proper plan from SAPO so that they could monitor that SAPO was making progress in light of its failures in past years.
The Department of Communications and Digital Technologies responded to Committee recommendations and questions on the merger of the two departments; senior management vacancies in both departments; 4IR Commission; broadcasting digital migration; Department oversight of SABC, ICASA, SAPO and BBI.
Members discussed the pre-conditions of the SABC bailout and the board's independence from internal processes at the SABC. There was concern about the Postbank / SAPO saga and a request was made for a developmental plan.
The Chairperson noted apologies from the Minister and Deputy Minister and welcomed the newly appointed SAPO board. Given that Members had received the presentation ahead of time, SAPO should limit itself to thirty minutes as this would leave more time for member engagement and discussion.
Ms Tshikani Makhubele, SAPO Chairperson, said that the new SAPO board was inducted on 1 November. The board has a clear understanding of the status quo. The post office is emerging from a long winter. We have previously not been performing well, our investment is under threat and our sustainability is under question. We have received a qualified audit that highlighted governance concerns and wasteful expenditure. We have had cases of gender-based violence and we acknowledge these problems. There are problems with the SASSA grant payments. We know that our human capital needs investment and we recognise that our competitive infrastructure needs developing to meet the demands of our mandate. We need to provide a full range of modern postal services. We ought to look at creating partnerships that will enable us to provide dignified services to our people. In the past week, the board has defined what we want to achieve as part of the new ministry. We need a clear strategy to move data and money, and we want to develop our capacity as a logistics hub for Southern Africa. We want to reclaim our position as SAPO in the capacity of SAPO and revive our public image. We want to address our performance challenges and we will re-examine our outdated business model. We are committed to clean governance and Vision 2030. We have a 90-day plan to address the burning issues and we acknowledge that there are many areas in which we need to improve. We are going to be filling the critical positions that are outstanding.
Ms Lindiwe Kwele, SAPO Acting GCEO, informed members that SAPO has not been profitable for the last 13 years except in 2006 when a profit of R276m was made, which excluded the subsidy received for the Universal Service Obligation (USO) for its public service mandate. From 2001 to 2012, the USO was funded around R300m p.a. but the USO subsidy was suspended in 2012/13 [for failing to meet its universal service obligations] - which along with the four month strike in 2014 led to an R800m loss. SAPO has suffered from insufficient working capital and from its fixed costs base exceeding revenue. For the 2019/20 MTEF, a USO grant allocation of R1.5 billion was received from National Treasury to fund the public service mandate. R2.9bn was allocated to SAPO in January 2019 to fund future capital investment. This has been used to settle historical legacy creditor backlogs; staff conversion from part-time to permanent, as part of collective agreements and legislation amendments; and staff salary increases.
Mr Jabulani Dlamuka, SAPO Acting GCFO, gave a financial overview for March to September 2019. SAPO is operating at a net loss. Without profitability, we will end up continually depleting our assets. The focus of the 2019 funding was to ring fence that money to pour into infrastructure. We are looking more into e-commerce as a part of our Vision 2030. We need to rationalise our under- and un-utilised infrastructure. We are looking to close some non-viable branches to keep our operating costs as low as possible. Our security costs have been escalating because of SASSA. A customer was killed in our Claremont so we are looking at making our premises more secure. Our subsidies are being used to defray our operating costs and are not invested in developing infrastructure. We have about R4.1 to 4.6 billion rands in assets. Most of our liquid assets are sitting in the bank. It has been a strategy to stimulate growth by transferring these reserves to try to stimulate profit. The R2.9bn allocated to SAPO in January 2019 has a balance of R1bn to fund future capital investment.
Ms Kwele maintained that the transfer of business from SAPO to Postbank was gazetted with effect from 1 April 2019 in line with the corporatisation requirements. SAPO will work with the Department to support SAPO’s future financial stability.
Action Plans were listed as:
• Post Office signed a contract with SASSA for the payment of social grants to 11 million beneficiaries. Based on the current forecast, gross revenue expected from this project is R1.9 billion per annum.
• During 2019/20 SAPO will be launching its e-commerce platform which will meet increasing demand and positively contribute to revenue.
• The branch network will be rationalised to minimise rental costs of 114 urban branches.
• Group restructuring through a phased approach will be adopted to address the challenge of low productivity due to high staff numbers.
• Improved regulatory enforcement by ICASA will aim to address encroachment in the reserved area of its postal service licence.
• PFMA exemption to activate competitive opportunities and improve time to market.
• Private-public-partnerships become key to leverage skills and technology investment in key areas like e-Commerce.
Ms Kwele reported 33% of its 2018/19 audit findings had been resolved. She reported in detail about the governance and operational challenges. Employee costs account for more than 70% of gross revenue. The staff optimisation process has been implemented with 776 employees leaving to date through the Voluntary Severance Package (VSP). The audit findings on fruitless and wasteful expenditure were discussed in the Financial Misconduct Committee and disciplinary action will be undertaken if recommended.
Ms Kwele also spoke about the turnaround in relation to connectivity and the status of the network upgrade project status; security infrastructure plan; trust centre; staff optimisation to reduce the high wage bill; critical vacancies; brand repositioning; catalytic initiatives; the Hundred Day plan; 90 day deliverables for the board; the way forward on turnaround and the Clareinch post office investigation (see document). She ended by sharing the re-imagined and refurbished post offices prototype.
Ms A Mthembu (ANC) welcomed the presentation. It provides a clear picture of SAPO’s direction. She hoped all problematic issues would be addressed. She spoke in her mother tongue [2:32:00].
Ms S Xego (ANC) had heard that there was a service-level agreement signed between SAPO and the Postbank. What are the implications? You have said that you are not profitable. What are your aims with this agreement? As a politician, she could not support the closing of post of offices in rural areas. We need safe and salubrious buildings for our rural constituents. Those rural post offices are our highest-risk areas. You ought to conduct a risk-assessment on these post offices. You talk about a brand repositioning programme. How are you planning to get feedback from the people you are servicing? How do you get feedback from those who may dissatisfied but remain quiet. You say you want smart post offices, but what we want first are safe post offices. Please see to it that this security infrastructure plan goes ahead. Can we get a sense of the audit findings? After the Clareinch post office incident, please subject your staff to vetting. Please inform us of the unions’ reactions to the case. Do you own all the post office buildings or do you rent some?
Mr C Mackenzie (DA) had sat on the this Committee since 2014 listening to staff insisting that they would turn around the Post Office year after year with just an additional R1 billion rand or R2 billion or so forth. He had been told that the post office would turn a profit by 2020, but we learn today that the post office will not make a profit in 2020. He had heard board after board and CEO after CEO tell members the same thing. The Postbank is splitting from the Post Office group. The reason for this is that the Post Office group cannot support the Postbank. This is alarming. Can we have more details on the agreement to compensate for the loss of profits from the Postbank separation? The first he had heard of the new SAPO board appointees was at this committee. Could the Committee be provided with an overview of the makeup of the new SAPO board and the skill set of its members? You state that South African Post Office runs under an outdated model. What has Mark Barnes been doing for the past three years? He thought SAPO had, under that administration, implemented a new model. Now you tell us you have a new one. It is only because of the murder of Uyinene Mrwetyana in a post office in Cape Town that a spotlight has been shone on safety.
Mr Mackenzie said a post office had closed down for refurbishment and we were informed that it would be re-opened after a few months. But no refurbishment has taken place at all. Why is this happening? If you say to parliament that the post office will be fixed then you have to fix it otherwise you are lying to parliament. You are not doing what you say you are doing about refurbishments. Is the automated service working in your central Johannesburg office? This question is never answered despite it being repeatedly asked. A monopoly was given to the SAPO to help it meet its universal service obligations. Assuming you had a monopoly, would you be making enough money to cover costs? You say you have attained new expertise in your new hiring. Are they internal or external? The Johannesburg central post office is decrepit and dilapidated and a blight on the cityscape. When will you begin to restore it?
Mr L Mokoena (EFF) similarly noted the dilapidated state of post offices, especially in rural areas. The post office should, on the contrary, be most relevant in precisely these areas. He thought SAPO was hitting the right notes with the e-commerce initiatives and so forth. The SAPO business model was caught in the past, it needs to move forward. In South Korea, the postal service falls under the purview of informational and computational bodies. We need to go into this space. Alibaba in China is based on a similar model. Our business model is mostly physical and it needs to expand. The Post Office should be at the centre of a data vault. If you get a ticket in a small town in the Free State and you drive to Limpopo, there is no communication between areas and provinces because there is no system that can do so. You are the distributor of information in the country. In the previous presentation, it was noted that when major digitisation happened across the private sector in 2001, those businesses left behind did not see growth in the same way that those early up-takers did.
Ms Z Majozi (IFP) noted that the new board needs to ensure appointments in all key vacant positions. Appointees can ensure that there is accountability. Do you benchmark yourself with developed countries that have transformed their postal services? On the post offices that will be closed, are you intending to bring other services to these areas to service the inhabitants? She lived in an urban area but she still received post not meant for her. Co-ordination is an issue even in cities. What will happen to those in rural areas if mail cannot even be delivered to urban addresses properly?
Mr L Molala (ANC) welcomed the new board. We ought to give you an opportunity to do your work, but be aware that those who have preceded you have given us many causes for frustration. The Post Office is very close to the rural people. To be sure, you can be ‘digital’ in big cities and towns, but at the rural level will these digital improvements have a genuinely tangible impact? Now that you have SASSA with you, there are a lot of hawkers and touts around post offices. Some form of engagement with these people should be made to ensure that they are managed sensibly and have reasonable expectations of their own purview. Some post offices may not be profitable, but they may also be providing a necessary service. How can you ensure that you are careful in your money-saving and retrenchment processes? On branding, he agreed that the Post Office had lost a lot of credibility in communities. We need more of a plan from SAPO so that we can monitor that plan and check you are making progress. You have told us what you want to do but not how you will do. Develop a plan so that we can follow your implementation. On the separation of the Postbank from the Post Office, how are you influencing this process? Is it viable? What is the truth in this story? We have heard at least three different stories on this matter recently. What is the relationship between SASSA and the Postbank? Does the service level agreement include SASSA?
Ms N Kubheka (ANC) thought that the new board was on the right path. SAPO is at the nucleus of service delivery. When talking about the Post Office, you are talking about delivering medication to people's doorsteps, as well as textbooks, pensions and so forth. Mr Mackenzie has noted his frustrations. You are aware that a huge task is in front of you. Safety is key. You need to ensure that your infrastructure is in a good condition and is made safe. We want our communities to have a 100% service delivery rate. You need to correct what has gone wrong.
The Chairperson asked if the board could unpack the R4.1 billion deficit that would result from the separation of Postbank from SAPO. The Auditor-General would expect us to follow up on asking you for an action plan. We want to see how feasible your plans are. When can we expect timelines for your engagement with the Department? What do you mean by expanding supply chain contracts? You say workers have a lack of skills, have you exhausted your internal re-skilling? We cannot monitor work over a decade without a sense of the particular milestones you hope to achieve.
Ms Makhubele said that Mr Mackenzie raised the question of who the board members were. She informed members that she was a product of the ANC government and ANC struggle. She was from Limpopo and had a BA in Informatics, later studying Information Engineering in Malaysia. Afterwards, she worked for South African Breweries and implemented e-commerce services during her time there. She had started a PhD on the rolling out of broadband in rural areas. The Minister has been very careful in selecting a diverse board with a multitude of different yet relevant skills. We have skills that we believe the post office of the future requires.
Mr Mackenzie welcomed Ms Makhubele.
Ms Kwele appreciated the frustration. Refurbishment is indeed a sore thumb. Urban customers have one set of standards and rural customers another. We must be a one-stop shop for everyone. It is about relevance for people. On the hawkers around post offices since the payment of SASSA grants, we have to play a role in enabling local economic development. We ask how to safeguard and protect the Post Office as a feature of the community. Scrutiny from members, mystery shoppers and so forth are very important. On staff vetting, after the Clareinch incident, we asked for an evaluation of our operations and we will soon table security recommendations based on that.
Ms Kwele stated that according to the Service Level Agreement the business model is premised on a shared model. The SASSA contract belongs to SAPO, but there are certain norms and standards of compliance that SASSA is contingent and reliant on. The premise of the shared model is something that will continue regardless of whether SAPO and Postbank are separated or not.
Mr Dawood Dada, Company Secretary at SAPO, averred that to meet the requirements of social ethics and stakeholder engagement, the organisation would go out during grant payment day with a questionnaire and interview people. After this exercise and after forming a sense of the problems customers face, it will endeavour to address those.
Ms Kwele replied that rebalancing has been mainly effected at urban branches. We will never stray from the Act in terms of our regulatory obligations and we need to ensure our point of presence is maintained. In the context of financial constraints, we must do more with what we have. Our relationship with local leaders needs to be emphasised because we have weak communications at the moment. Buildings in malls are leased but standalone offices are mostly owned. We are moving back to our own buildings instead of leasing spaces because it makes good financial sense to do so.
Mr Dlamuka acknowledged that a great many of SAPO branches are in a very poor state. We do need to ensure that we improve. We look at urban branches and ask what the cheapest way is of keeping the same presence. We have taken the audit findings very seriously and we want to present our audit action plan. Mr Mackenzie did correctly raise the issue of nebulous planning. We want to introduce a coherent turnaround model.
Ms Kwele remarked that SAPO was looking at R2.8bn on their profit portfolio. On post office refurbishments, some ostensibly closed buildings are indeed being refurbished. We will come back to the Committee and break down the standards of our post offices nationwide. We have resuscitated our aggressive presence. We do benchmark with international post agencies to check our progress. We tap into research on schemes both local and international.
Mr Dada referred to slide 15 and said post offices are categorised in terms of safety risk. He had investigated the post office where Uyinene Mrwetyana was murdered. It was deemed to be a lower-risk office, which surprised us. We first aim to implement CCTV to develop our safety.
Ms Kwele added that SAPO is working with the National Electronic Media Institute of South Africa (NEMISA) to build the digital workforce. We need to ensure that there is a re-skilling.
Ms Makhubele noted that the Department has started to engage with the National Treasury to help SAPO to meet and engage with new potential partners. We will identify areas where we will need these partnerships.
Ms Kwele replied about the Johannesburg conveyor belt. The belt was put in place but it was never functional, so we had to close it down because it was fruitless expenditure. We have ring fenced international airports to implement them into our framework. The IT enterprise platforming is harmonising our areas.
Ms Kwele explained that the September 2019 ICASA ruling prohibits PostNet with immediate effect from operating a reserved postal service. We do have a media company as a reputation management overseer to help us with our brand repositioning.
The Chairperson asked SAPO for any closing remarks.
Ms Kwele insisted that SAPO want to become a trusted company.
Mr Molala wanted to check, given that there are many community-based structures in many areas, if would be possible for SAPO to get them to participate in a security capacity in post offices? Rather than paying security companies, they will more readily know what was happened should there be any incidents of crime. He insisted that he would be harder on SAPO the next time they visited the Committee.
Mr Mackenzie commented that at a certain post office, where the air conditioners were not working, he had seen several people selling their wares around the post office. Should they be doing so there? Palisade fences around post offices are often broken. Can you comment on facility management?
Ms Kwele maintained that SAPO is mindful of management issues. She spoke about refurbishment work and settling the lease agreements. All the heritage sites should be managed. Safety is of paramount importance.
Ms Makhubele noted that SAPO is aware of international models where post offices have access to banking facilities but which do not own a bank. We are very mindful of representing rural communities.
The Chairperson noted that there would be an expectation of a report with timelines. Members want you to prove our concerns about competence wrong. He allowed the SAPO delegation to leave.
Department of Communications & Digital Technologies (DCDT) response
Mr Robert Nkuna, Director-General of the DTPS, and Mr Omega Shelembe, DTPS Deputy Director-General: State-Owned Companies Oversight, responded to the committee questions on the merger of the two departments; senior management vacancies in both departments; 4IR Commission; broadcasting digital migration; Department oversight of SABC, ICASA, SAPO, BBI. Some of the responses were:
• The Departments of Communications (DOC) and of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS) remain two separate departments under two ministers. It will become one department in April 2020. There is a memorandum of understanding to facilitate co-operation between the two-departments. The two departments are now located in one office. The departments met to agree on a budget structure for 2020/21 which was submitted to National Treasury for consideration and approval. A single budget allocation will be issued by National Treasury for the DCDT. Since it would be the first year with a joint budget, an early warning system will be implemented to monitor expenditure trends to avoid over and under expenditure.
• National Treasury has confirmed an allocation or R3.2 billion to the SABC from contingency reserves. The Department has transferred the first tranche of R2.1 billion to the SABC. The remaining R1.1 billion will be transferred to the SABC upon full compliance with the remaining National Treasury preconditions for funding that have not been met. The SABC has commenced with the implementation of the Turnaround Strategy that was developed with the assistance of the Government Technical Advisory Centre (GTAC).
• The former SABC Acting COO, Dr Craig Van Rooyen, cited personal reasons for his resignation. A new COO, Mr Ian Plaatjies, has been appointed with effect from 1 November 2019.
• The Minister received correspondence from an SABC board member about infighting amongst board members and executives. The Minister would hold a meeting with the board members concerned and thereafter present to the board chairperson the allegations levelled against him for his response.
• ICASA will brief the committee on 19 November 2019 on Sports Rights Regulations. The Minister is holding ongoing bilateral meetings with the Council of ICASA and all critical matters are being discussed through these engagements. The Minister issued a policy directive on the release of high demand spectrum in July 2019. ICASA has commenced with the implementation of the policy directive to release high demand spectrum. The Department has ensured that the Regulator’s funding requirements are catered for in the current and next financial years. The Department has planned to monitor quarterly the actions plans which have been developed by ICASA to curb the continuous increase in irregular expenditure and other transgressions.
• A copy of Mr Barnes’ resignation letter was submitted to the Committee. Mr Barnes mainly cited the ultimate separation of the shareholding, control and management of Postbank and SAPO as his main reason for his resignation. He reasoned that the decision goes against the agreed strategy for SAPO business model founded on a diversified revenue strategy. It should be noted that the qualification to have control over the bank is not based on SAPO or Shareholder preferences. Regulations 44 of the Banks Act states that any applicant wishing to own the bank must be in a financially sound condition. Mr Barnes was aware of this requirement. SAPO has not been profitable. Net losses over the past three financial years were R978 million for 2016/17, R1 billion for 2017/18 and R1.2 billion for 2018/19. However to minimise the impact on both SAPO and Postbank, the interdependencies of the relationship between the two will have to continue being protected through entering into the corporate agreement and service level agreements. It is unfortunate that during Mr Barnes’ tenure, financial performance did not improve to enable SAPO to qualify for registration as a bank controlling company.
Ms Mthembu spoke in her mother tongue [0:32:21]
Ms Xego emphasised the need for continuous engagement between the two departments on amalgamation issues. Our support for the SABC bailout was preconditioned on it meeting the requirements of the agreement. We will be less understanding if the SABC does not live up to these.
Mr Mackenzie asked if the State Information Technology Agency (SITA) would be staying with the Department or going.
Mr Mokoena asked how SAPO would go forward after Mark Barnes’ resignation. We have given the SABC pre-conditions. They have come to the Committee and told us that some targets would be impossible for them to meet. How do we say that the measures packaged with the R2.1bn are complied with to a reasonable extent? How do we ensure we do not punish it unjustly? Why is the SABC increasing the licence fee when it is already too much for the poor? There are requirements for free internet services in schools. ICASA has not met these numbers even after it lowered its targets.
Mr Molala said that the role of the committee was to perform oversight. How can we streamline this process? He was worried that meetings were being duplicated. On the SABC board, we need clarify its independence from internal processes. On the Postbank / SAPO saga, can we have the developmental plan for this? Can we be clear if they are separating or merging? If we have a plan, we will be able to monitor and follow up. There is also too much reliance on National Treasury. They give conditions based on the money they have, but in terms of the content process, how can we separate the two? We do not want to be held hostage. We need to be emphatic in terms of content. It is a very dicey situation.
Mr Mokoena reiterated that it was a problem that Treasury direct the way in which businesses directed their business.
Mr Nkuna insisted that Treasury will argue that there will always be conditions for their financing. Generally the understanding is that one must put conditions on the financing. On oversight, at some level the executive will exercise its own oversight. Parliament exercises its oversight but the executive has its own prerogatives too. The Department has engaged with ICASA to remind it to fulfil its obligations. There are challenges around the quality of devices - but we must take care not to be speculative. There are still some vacancies on the SAPO board that will be filled. We have supported SAPO with R8.2 billion over the past three years, and there will be a further hole opening up with the upcoming separation by Postbank. This is a challenge. We will soon be coming to Parliament with a new bill to address problems with SITA. SITA should be transferred to the Minister of Communications. Mark Barnes is one of the many CEOs who have left the establishment. It is important to understand why.
Mr Shelembe replied that SABC had indicated the impossibility of selling some of its assets. We stipulated this condition because we wanted the SABC to conduct a detailed assessment of itself as an exploration of its future. A careful and thorough assessment of the future is very important. Across the board, you have to have internal realignment; you cannot just continually come to government for bailouts. If entities keep returning and asking for fiscal support then Treasury has to begin to ask questions. There is an agreement there.
Mr Nkuna noted that the vacant senior management positions between the two Departments were a total of 26 vacancies. He thanked Members for their support.
The Chairperson remarked that ICASA has been unready twice now. We need manage this preparedness moving forward, but we should be realistic about it. There is a challenge with agencies acting independently and not coordinating. Also, we need a plan before going before Treasury. We need to state to ICASA that we are not happy. We cannot continually postpone.
Mr Molala noted that it had been many meetings since the Minister or the Deputy Minister had attended. Sometimes they are relevant to the matters we discuss. They ought to ensure that they are cognisant of their responsibilities.
The meeting was adjourned.
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