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Provincial and Local Government Portfolio Committee
3 August 2004
Committee Programme, Budget and Business plan: Adoption
Chairperson: Ms R Bhengu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Committee budget until 2006
Committee Business Plan
Committee Programme, August to November 2004
The Committee met to discuss their draft Programme, Budget and Business Plan. The Chairperson had not yet been informed of legislative priorities but discussions were likely to commence on 12 October. The Committee agreed to form a task team to consider a study tour before this date. The Chair further told Members about upcoming meetings with SETA, the Department (17 August), SALGA, the Demarcation Board and the Department of Water Affairs.
Some omissions to the list of monitored entities were due to the institutions' uncertain futures or pending legislation that might affect their status. The meeting agreed that the budget needed to be influenced by the business plan, the scale of study tours, the number of public hearings and the funds carried over. A representative from Finance would be invited to attend their next meeting to clarify budget uncertainties.
Mr P Smith (IFP) inquired about their oversight role as a number of key institutions appeared to have been overlooked for meetings and investigation. He asked when a study tour was scheduled to occur.
The Chairperson responded that Parliament had not yet informed her of legislative priorities but discussions were likely to commence on 12 October. A study tour could occur prior to this date.
Mr B Solo (ANC) said a study tour required extensive preparation
Mr S Mshudulu (ANC) reminded the Committee that the programme was a draft. Members should peruse the document and make necessary additions at the next meeting.
The Chairperson pointed out that some omissions to the list of monitored entities were due to the institutions' uncertain futures or pending legislation that might affect their status, such as that of Traditional Leaders. She would soon be meeting the Municipal Demarcation Board. A meeting with the Department of Water Affairs was necessary to identify priority areas and establish the rules of Water Boards and municipalities, particularly with regard to their indigence policy.
Mr Smith questioned whether a weekly meeting was sufficient. The future of SETAs needed to be determined and included in the Programme. He recommended that a sub-committee be established to prepare for a study tour.
Mr W Doman (DA) said the Municipal Demarcation Board needed to clarify its relationship with the Independent Electoral Commission regarding upcoming municipal elections. He supported a Tuesday meeting to allow Members to work on issues during the week.
Mr S Mshudulu agreed that inconsistencies existed in terms of particular municipal policies and national indigence legislation. This required intervention at a Ministerial level. He recommended that a one-day workshop be held with the Department for prioritising. In order to produce meaningful legislation, it was necessary to correctly interpret the policy guidelines of the President. It was also important to outline the role of the Committee in monitoring provincial governments.
The Chairperson said these comments would be taken into consideration when finalising the draft. A meeting would soon be held with the Chairperson of the Demarcation Board. Additional meetings during the week would be considered.
Mr Smith said that the Committee should attend an upcoming Labour Committee meeting as important information on the role of SETAs would be heard there.
The Chairperson informed Members about upcoming meetings with the relevant SETA Chairperson and with the Department on 17 August. Meetings would also be held with SALGA and the Demarcation Board.
Mr Smith asked why a representative of SALGA was not present now, and whether the meeting for 17 August would be divided into two separate events.
The Chairperson responded that the meeting would be conducted as a whole, but with separate presentations. SALGA needed to improve its attendance record. In terms of visiting groups, the Committee would meet beforehand to discuss their position. They should decide which municipalities should present as inconsistencies existed in interpretation of legislation. They needed to know if rates defaults were occurring broadly or only in specific areas.
Mr Smith drew attention to the issues of a specific municipality selling a property with an arrear, and the standard application of subsidies. In the case of Umsindusi, it was a question of whether the municipality could sell property when in arrears.
Mr Mshudulu stated that more information was needed to deliberate on the merits of the case. Legal practitioners within the Committee should guide these deliberations.
Mr Smith recommended that Department representatives be invited to meetings to provide official positions.
The Chairperson emphasised that the Committee needed to consider the unforeseen consequences of legislation and how different roleplayers interpreted policy, citing the current clash between the Durban municipality and the Umgeni Water Board over water supply control.
Moving on to the Committee Business Plan, Mr Smith praised the standard of the document but noted that certain mandates were incorrect. It was important that statutory bodies be monitored on a regular basis. The Chairperson asked him to assist in correcting the mandate with the Committee Secretary, and he agreed.
With regards to the budget, Mr Nshudulu asked whether it was appropriate to deal with the budget prior to finalising their Programme. Some of the previous year's activities had been discontinued and future government plans needed to be considered. Mr Smith agreed that the business plan needed to be closely linked to the budget.
The Chairperson concurred that the budget needed to be influenced by the business plan, the scale of study tours, the number of public hearings and the amount carried over from the previous budget. The Committee operated on a yearly budget estimate that could be limiting in a longer-term strategy.
Mr Mshudulu suggested that the draft compiler address the Committee at the next meeting to address problem areas.
The Chairperson informed Members that a representative of Finance would be invited to make presentations to clarify budget uncertainties.
The clerk's minutes of the 25 June meeting (at which the new chairperson was elected) were then adopted.
The meeting was adjourned.
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