Parliament Q4 2021/22 Performance
Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament
03 June 2022
Chairperson: Ms B Mabe (ANC)
Parliament's senior management briefed the Committee on the institution's fourth quarter performance for the 2021/22 financial year. The presentation gave an overview of the institution’s performance overview as having met all set targets for the quarter under review. Parliament has spent 76 percent or R660.075m of its appropriated budget of R873.395m for the fourth quarter. The budget was augmented by R40.439 m from savings to assist with the fire disaster. This funding was used to fund expenditure for repairs related to the fire incident on 2 January 2022.
Members congratulated the Acting Secretary for her consistently sterling job over the years. They attributed all the clean audits received to her great work ethic and diligence in conducting her work. This was her last meeting as the Acting Secretary.
Some Members expressed great concern about committee meetings being conducted virtually when there are options for available venues within and outside Parliament. However, other Members felt that virtual meetings were in line with technological advances in the country and were more cost-effective than in-person meetings. Some Members said as much as technology assisted Parliament with continuing its work during the pandemic, it hampered effective oversight, which is the core of Parliament. In-person meetings allowed for proper engagement and allowed Members to interact with various officials – this was lost with the online meetings. Parliament must get in-person meetings up and running urgently. While Parliament was working on paper, effective oversight was at least at 60%. In-person meetings must be the main priority.
Members asked for clarity on the magnitude of budget reductions and which programmes will be cut as a result of that - the issue of the budget of Parliament is a cause for concern and the Committee must assert its authority that Parliament gets its first slice of the budget.
Other questions posed related to the value for money spent on public participation programmes where it was said, "Parliament needs to go back to the drawing board in this regard".
Members asked about the vacancy of the Head of Security for Parliament, PARMED and whether the force majeure in the presentation impacted the salaries of staff.
Parliament Q4 report 2021/2
Ms Baby Tyawa, Acting Secretary to Parliament, took Members through the presentation slides. The quarter four performance report is based on the tabled 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan (APP) aligned to the sixth term Strategic Plan of Parliament. Client satisfaction with services is measured quarterly through a survey conducted quarterly with all Members of Parliament, where services are rated along five dimensions that are the most statistically correlated to client satisfaction. Each indicator is measured along usefulness, reliability, timeliness, fairness, and ease of access. The survey methodology gives direct feedback on where services can be improved.
All targets were achieved in the period under review.
R873.395m has been allocated for the fourth quarter (January to March 2022). Parliament has spent 76 percent or R660.075m of its appropriated budget of R873.395m for the fourth quarter. The budget was augmented by R40.439 m from savings to assist with the fire disaster. This funding was used to fund expenditure for repairs related to the fire incident that occurred on 2 January 2022. At the end of March, there is an underspending of R213. 320 m. The underspending will be available for allocation in the next financial year according to section 16(2) of the FMPPLA.
The spending on compensation of Members is R120. 305 m or 111 percent of the fourth quarter budget of R108. 554m resulting in overspending of R11.751 m. This overspending will be refunded by the National Revenue Fund in line with section 23(4) of the FMPPLA. The spending on compensation of employees is 77 percent or R317.137m of the fourth quarter budget of R409.568m, resulting in an underspending of R92.431m. The underspending is due to provisions made for key vacancies not been filled and discontinuation of membership to PARMED by some Members. The spending on goods and services, which relates to the APP, is 36 percent or R54.721m of the fourth quarter budget of R153.998m. The bulk of underspending is because of Covid-19 regulations and restrictions with the different lockdown levels that the President and his Cabinet announced. The Local Government Elections also resulted in changes to the Parliament programme. There was an increase in spending from the third quarter to the fourth quarter due to expenditure for refurbishing offices damaged due to the fire on 2 January 2022.
All parliamentary services continue to have a satisfaction rating considerably higher than the South African average for institutions of 75%. In the new financial year, the office is capacitating committee secretaries to run polls on the Microsoft Teams and Zoom platforms to get real time feedback from Members immediately after Committee meetings. A further reduction of the budget of Parliament remains an institutional risk.
The rising fuel costs pose another threat to travel costs associated with the budget of Parliament.
See presentation for further details.
Mr T Brauteseth (DA, KZN) commented that Parliament must be aware that very few Members actually use their parliamentary email addresses as Members prefer using their personal email addresses.
He also observed that the report reflects on the big tragedy of the fire in early January 2022. He, however, raised concern that it was six months since the fire and the one House of Parliament, which was very minimally damaged, was still not open. He said Members understand that the National Assembly has been completely destroyed. However, the National Council of Provinces has not been destroyed at all but there are still hiccups relating to microphones and minor technical issues. He asked why Parliament was still “fiddling around with silly small technical issues”, stopping them from meeting in person.
He further asked for clarity on the magnitude of budget reductions and which programmes will be cut due to that.
Mr B Radebe (ANC) commented that this report marks another achievement for Parliament and demonstrated it was doing a good job in being custodians of public funds. He said the Parliament team must be really proud of the job well done.
He said the issue of the budget of Parliament is a cause for concern and this Committee must assert its authority that Parliament gets its first slice of the budget.
He appreciated the work done by Parliament and the City of Cape Town on the fire issue in ensuring that Parliament had a seamless State of the Nation Address. The Committee should thank all teams involved, including public works and the police, in dealing with the fire issue. This shows that the working relationship between the various departments is very fruitful.
He asked when Parliament would reach full capacity where Members could come to the precinct for work and meetings. He said there were options given in the past, including hiring a modular structure which can be erected. He understood that this might not be viable with limited resources but asked for feedback on progress in this regard.
He concluded by commending the Acting Secretary for serving this Parliament with dignity, dedication, and determination. The result of clean audits was because of the hard work of the Secretary. He asked that Jehovah Almighty God be with the Secretary in the future.
Ms S Gwarube (DA) raised concern about the costs of public hearings. There needs to be a point where Parliament sees value in the public hearing programmes versus the quality of the public engagement that Parliament is doing. It is often very difficult to get the figures or know how much was earmarked for public hearings. For example, with the National Health Insurance public hearings – what was the cost vs the value received? It raises concern if Parliament is spending a lot of money and people are not feeling the impact of the public participation. Parliament needs to go back to the drawing board in this regard. Regarding the sectoral programmes of Parliament and the like, she sought clarity on whether there is some analysis of the various public hearings and public outreaches.
Regarding the Head of Security for Parliament vacancy, which was raised previously with the Speaker, she asked whether or not a job advertisement has gone out in that regard because it was one of the things that the Speaker said would be expedited along with the Secretary to Parliament.
She said there was an indication in the past that the repair budget for Parliament would have to be a separate allocation by Treasury, but it seems there is no allocation in the current budget.
She also asked how some of the venues can be made hybrid so that committees can meet in person. She also asked what the budget allocation is for the rebuilding of Parliament and for alternative venues to be used in the interim because it does not seem to be factored in the current budget allocation.
Mr N Paulsen (EFF) also raised concern that meetings had not resumed in the one section of Parliament, which was not damaged other than waterlogged. He said the Committee had suggested venues even outside of Parliament which could be used and asked why that had not happened.
He also asked how the information technology budget was being accommodated since Parliament did not have to accommodate virtual settings in comparison to previous years.
Ms N Mahlo (ANC) commented that South Africa is moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which comes with certain improvements in technologies. This can help the country save costs in certain areas. The country needs to be adaptable to using technology in certain instances, like meeting virtually, which she believes is the most economical way of meeting for most committee meetings.
She further said that the issue of PARMED needs to be solved and she asked for clarity in that regard.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) commented that the issue of capacity building and training for Members needs to be given much more attention as it was previously raised. It is also now depicted in the survey.
Mr M Rayi (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked whether the force majeure in the presentation impacted the salaries of staff.
Responses by Acting Secretary
Ms Tyawa (Acting Secretary to Parliament) thanked the Committee for the messages of gratitude and added that her success was due to the strong team she has working with her. She said they would continue to do the work of Parliament as public servants who have professionalism and credibility because this is their institution.
She said the force majeure did not affect 50% of the salaries because Parliament spends its money then the tranche comes from the EU, which always refunds them.
She responded that there are meeting rooms but they are suitable for a hybrid setup. Details of the venues have been shared with both Houses.
She responded on the PARMED matter that the Deputy Speaker was to address it. It has a burden on the budget as Parliament carries the cost of continuing Members. The allocation for PARMED sits in the person’s remuneration but once they leave, that becomes a liability. However, a resolution is needed with National Treasury on how this must be resolved.
Mr Masibulele Xaso, Secretary to National Assembly, said Parliament is focusing on the option of a modular structure. They looked at other options, such as using the parliamentary villages, the whole neighbourhood villages, and the option of a marquee. These options were not taken forward for various reasons. Preliminary costs have been received and a decision taken that there needs to be expert advice given on the costs, assess the designs that were given, and check durability and how long construction will take. The potential service providers take between four and a half months to thirteen months to construct. Expert advice is necessary and the procurement process for a team of engineering experts has been initiated. Hopefully, the process will be finalised by mid-June. If there is approval to proceed, construction will commence before the end of the year. The estimation is that the structure will be complete in 2023.
Ms Ruby November, Acting Chief Financial Officer, Parliament, said National Treasury reduced the budget by R256.7 million for the 2021/22 financial year. However, this will not impact or cut some of the programmes because Parliament will use previous years’ under expenditure to fund the shortfall. Parliamentary savings are not given back to National Treasury but are retained to fund other programmes.
Ms Tyawa responded that the cost breakdown of public hearings would be given to the Committee within the required timeframe.
She said an alternate budget of R40m was augmented due to the fire disaster. She indicated that the retained funds and whatever funds Parliament has would not cover building a Parliament. Parliament has had conversations with National Treasury as the custodian who needs to assist Parliament in the Vote.
Regarding technology, she said Parliament was fully functional during the covid-19 period. A covid centre was created, which funded all the ICT-related extra expenditure, including data and extra laptops required by members and staff.
There are offices that staff teams have been occupying on a rotational basis as 1 308 staff members could not all be accommodated back into 90 Plein Street at one time. The teams have also made way for committees to use the available rooms for meetings in the interim. For example, the Secretary’s office is now on the sixth floor but has also had to give up those offices for use by Members.
Regarding the budget for public participation in law-making, she said it was embedded in other budget categories, for example, under communication or research etc. The costs were not clearly visible in one place. However, the programme structure has been changed to reflect the cost of doing public participation oversight. It is hoped this would be brought under legislation and oversight to pull together all data in one place and clearly see the budget drivers for public participation.
She said her office was also disappointed with the issue of not using the NCOP offices as these offices were clean and ready. However, some of the microphones were burnt. Facilities management realised that because of the loadshedding, there had been an electrical surge that burned some instruments. These instruments need to be replaced. However, some of the parliamentary buildings are antiquated, and some were constructed in the 1850s. So, trying to put in modern things and buildings of 1856 may not be the most economical thing. There needs to be a whole capital budget put together for the modernisation of Parliament instead of rewiring old infrastructure that will require more work in the future.
The filling of the position of the Security Manager sits with the Executive Authority. There was a directive that the office should actually wait for the Secretary position to be filled. The office has started the process of filling lower-level positions in the interim.
Mr Ravi Moodley, Head: Strategic Management and Governance, responded that they endeavour to take the updated email addresses from Members' support services, where Members list their details. The Auditor-General looks at the lists as evidence, so the office has to use these lists as an official source. Where Members do not update emails, it does cause communication challenges.
Ms Tyawa said training needed to be consolidated and this was being looked at.
Mr Brauteseth conveyed his well wishes to the Acting Secretary, who he found kind, caring and forthcoming with Members despite robust engagement at times.
He suggested that to get Members' personal email addresses, the management speak to all the committee secretaries.
He felt that as much as technology assisted Parliament with continuing its work in the pandemic, it hampered effective oversight, which is the core of Parliament. In-person meetings allowed for proper engagement and allowed Members to interact with various officials – this was lost with the online meetings. Parliament must get in-person meetings up and running urgently. While Parliament was working on paper, effective oversight was not taking place or was at least at 60%. In-person meetings must be the main priority.
Ms Tyawa replied that information would be provided on which meeting rooms have capacity for in-person sittings. The team needs to work with the committees, check the schedules and programmes etc., to make all the available space available to the committees. There was a plan to make some of the sixth floor available, and the information can be shared with the Committee. Public works will be engaged to develop a list of outside venues for only physical committee work, not hybrid. A proper report and analysis will be provided to the Committee.
The Chairperson urged that Parliament should try not to rent our properties due to finances. Physical meetings must take place on the precinct.
The Chairperson thanked the Acting Secretary and her team for serving SA well and said this should be continued.
Committee minutes dated 4 March 2022, 14 April 2022 and 20 May 2022 were considered and adopted.
Report of the Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament on the Parliament of the Republic of South Africa’s 2021/22 Third Quarter Report
The report was considered and adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
Mabe, Ms BP
Mahlangu, Ms DG
Brauteseth, Mr TJ
Gwarube, Ms S
Lesoma, Ms RMM
Mahlo, Ms NP
Moletsane, Mr MS
Paulsen, Mr N M
Qayiso, Mr XS
Radebe, Mr BA
Rayi, Mr M
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