Committee Report on Department Budget

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22 June 2004
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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

22 JUNE 2004

Chairperson: Mr J Cronin (ANC)

Documents handed out
Committee Report on Department Budget

The Committee considered its report on the Department of Transport's budget drafted by the Chairperson. The report contained a varied number of issues amongst which the Taxi Recapitalisation process and the proliferation of agencies serving under the Department were discussed at length.

The need for "flexibility" in the implementation of the Taxi Recapitalisation process was raised but the Committee decided not to elaborate in the report on areas where flexibility would be required.

The proliferation of corporations and agencies under the Department and specifically the need to clarify their funding allocation emerged as an important point in the report. The Committee requested more information from the Department in this regard.

Mr Cronin asked the Members to individually read through the draft report in order to familiarise themselves with its contents. He apologised that all Members had not yet received the report, and suggested that e-mail circulation in future would address this problem.

Mr S Farrow (DA) said the report was very concise but recommended that parts of the budget be included to provide a clearer indication of the figures referred to the report. He requested the details of transfers from the Department to its agencies be included in the report to provide a clearer understanding of how the budget was spent.

Mr Cronin said the Committee would not have time to unravel the financial allocation of each agency by the following day. The Department should be made more responsible to trace the flow of funds to the relevant agencies, especially because a significant proportion of the budget is allocated to agencies.

Mr Farrow said the Committee's concern over the proliferation of agencies should also be noted.

Mr Cronin agreed but said the matter should be raised further in the report. Much more clarity regarding agencies was required especially since some were self-sufficient while others depended on transfers from the Department.

Mr Mashigo (ANC) proposed the Committee should include the sentence: "The committee would actively engage the Department during its internal overhaul".

Mr Farrow said this matter was very important because the Department needed committee support to access more funding and the Committee should therefore be more intricately involved in the determination of departmental objectives.

Mr Mashigo said the Committee could devise the process regarding its greater involvement with the Department during the next session of Parliament.

Mr Farrow said there would be changes to the Department's strategic objectives that will necessarily impact on the budget allocation.

Mr G Schneemann (ANC) said the relevant paragraph does make adequate provision for adjustments to the budget.

Mr Cronin explained Mr Farrow's concern that the non-alignment of the Department's strategic objectives emphasised a broader point relating to how the budget was prepared. He endorsed the proposal to include the wording "underlines the importance for a more proactive engagement by Parliament in the preparation of the budget."

Ms B Thomson (ANC) said she preferred the word "committee" to "Parliament".

Mr Farrow said the disparity between subsidies for taxis and other means of public transport should be noted in Paragraph 3.1 or perhaps further in the report.

Mr Ngiba (IFP) asked what "flexibility" meant relating to the Taxi Recapitalisation process.

Mr Mashigo said flexibility could refer to the differences between the urban and rural transport needs as the Department currently employed a "one taxi fits all" approach.

Mr Cronin said the ninety-seven thousand registered taxis were intended to be off the road within 5 years, and perhaps the Department intended timeframes that were more flexible or different sized taxis as Mr Mashigo suggested. There were many issues that could require "flexibility" within the Taxi Recapitalisation process and he suggested the Committee not attempt to list them in this report.

Mr Mashigo asked whether the National Travel Survey would determine actual modes of transport people used or which they wanted to use.

Ms Thomson said the main objective of the survey could link to the question of public transport subsidies.

Mr Cronin said a significant number of South Africans had no access to public transport; therefore the 100% total contained in paragraph 5.1 related to the modes of transport employed. The main point of the paragraph was that the main mode of transport for most South African was mini bus taxis. Other surveys had consistently found that 65% of the population depended on taxis.

Mr Cronin said that the Department, regarding the issues in Paragraph 3.4, had not included specific dates, but they could be requested at a later stage.

Mr Scheemann said the Committee welcomed the Department's commitment to establish the Khayalitsha railway extension and wanted to urge them to fast track its implementation.

Mr Farrow said the Urban Transport Fund was engaged in identifying bottlenecks within the public transport system and he presumed they were involved in identifying the need for the Khayalitsha extension. He also wanted to know which other railway extensions were being considered by the Department.

Mr Cronin said he was not entirely sure what the Urban Transport Fund was, but speculated that the Department used it as a "flexibility fund". He proposed the wording "The Committee would require more clarity on the Urban Transport Fund" in the report.

Mr Farrow said the Fund could be dealt with in a latter paragraph along with the other agencies.

Mr Schneeman said the subsidies raised in Paragraph 3.3 could be discussed at length after the Committee had viewed the relevant report.

Mr Cronin suggested Paragraph 4.2 be listed under the 'Challenges in the logistics system' section contained in Paragraph 4.1.

Mr N Magubane asked whether the bottlenecks experienced in freight logistics were a result of the casual labour employed in this sector.

Mr Cronin said the proposed amendments to the National Ports Authority Act would be presented to the Committee in the near future, and many of the issues raised here would come under review in that context. He proposed that the Committee merely stated that there were bottlenecks and thereby avoided controversial matters.

Mr Farrow said the wording "whilst investigating their respective roles, within the traffic infringement program" should be added at the end of Paragraph 5.4. This was necessary to highlight the different roles of the Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) and the Road Traffic Management Corporation (RTMC).

Mr Phungula (ANC) said the Committee had to develop a strategy to curb taxi thefts and the loud noises emanating from taxis.

Mr Farrow said that the wording "further scrutiny of the budget would require that the Committee meet with a range of corporations and agencies that fall under this budget" should be included in the report.

Mr Cronin said this sentence should be placed at the beginning of the document.

The meeting was adjourned


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