A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON WELFARE AND POPULATION DEVELOPMENT
27 October 1999
WELFARE FINANCING POLICY: BRIEFING (continued)
Documents Handed Out :
Financing Policy - Developmental Social Welfare Services (gazetted as Notice 463 of 1999)
(email email@example.com if you wish to have a copy)
The briefing on Welfare Financing Policy (started on 20 October) continued. Its aims, priorities and target areas were recapped. The involvement of various organisations in service delivery, their funding and on what basis they were funded was explained. There will be a system of "mapping" in terms of which the highest areas of poverty would be pinpointed to identify priority areas for service delivery.
The committee members were dissatisfied that this important policy, in the process of being implemented, had completely bypassed Parliament and insisted on a workshop on the policy. They had grave concerns regarding certain aspects of it.
Ms Ntjantja Ned, the Deputy Director-General of Policy, Strategy and Regulation in the Department of Welfare continued with her briefing on the financing policy, started on the 20 of October. Ms Ned said that she would recap by outlining the aims of the policy document. She said that part of the broad ideals of the financing policy (the FP) was to achieve the goal of a better life for all. The policy's focus areas would thus be basic needs, human development and the elimination of crime and corruption in the welfare system.
Secondly, the FP aimed at including more community based organisations (CBOs) and NGOs who were previously excluded from the partnership with government in relation to service delivery in the sphere of welfare. It looked at funding capacity and institutional building in this regard. She mentioned that the funding of CBOs should be a long term project. She identified 3 provinces where such funding was needed the most, viz. Kwazulu-Natal, Eastern Cape and Northern Province. The way she expected welfare services to be provided in rural areas, which desperately needed these services, was through partnership between government, NGO's and CBO's in terms of which government would provide funding on a long-term basis. According to her, the idea was to fund, for example, CBO,s who would develop (but preferably already have) skills and infrastructure to bring necessary welfare services to these disadvantaged communities. This would ensure that strategic priority areas be focused on. The FP was thus a framework to move services to where they were needed most.
It was noted that the CBO had to be strategically focused, to provide the required services otherwise it would not receive funding. She added, however, that this funding was not restricted to CBOs and NGOs who had already developed expertise in providing the required services. This was because funding was also focused on developing new CBOs which would not only cater for current needs, but would be developed with a view to a long term future provider of services. She said that there were 3 types of services: Direct Services, Development of policies capacitating others to enable efficiency and To give answers on procedures to be followed -to basically know the answer to almost every question on how anything in the department is done or works.
CBOs who have expertise in one or more of these services would stand a good chance of being funded. Thus, unlike the previous focus, which took into account who the organisation was, the focus was now on what the organisation did.
She explained that developmental quality assurance (DQA) was the core developmental monitoring tool for ensuring both effective service delivery and delivery in line with transformation, vision and goals. The DQA process is a two pronged process and in terms of it, organisations would be capacitated to do their own internal quality assurance. At the moment there is what is termed inspection. The new focus would be asking beneficiaries whether they were satisfied with the services and whether there were any irregularities occurring. Thus the internal DQA would ensure that what has been agreed upon was actually being done.
The implementation of such an optimistic and ambitious policy would undoubtedly be difficult to say the least. She spoke about a system of "mapping" in terms of which the highest areas of poverty would be pin pointed
These poverty maps, she said, looked at human development indicators: Whether there were employment opportunities or access to schools for example. She explained that it was essential for areas to be targeted where services were needed the most.
The NGOs and CBOs would be required to submit business plans, called service plans in line with what was required, that is, after assessing the primary needs in terms of welfare. Costing is done in terms of this service plan where the appropriateness of the service is looked at as well as whether its focus is on early intervention and prevention or whether it is a service aimed at putting people in an institution. If for example the focus is on children, she said that the best option would be that they are not institutionalised. She said that if they were not coping with something, the focus should be on prevention or early intervention, so that as soon as possible they should return to being self reliant people.
Thus she said that, firstly the level of service is looked at, then the target, and finally whether the intervention is appropriate. When it came to mapping criteria, the following stood out, viz. Demography, unemployment, women, age of population and employment opportunities. In terms of the budget, it is government's intention that funding had to be aligned in terms of what the poverty maps indicate.
She explained that after the signing of a service level agreement, implementation occurred ie. the actual provision of services occurred. Developmental quality assurance (DQA) was used as part of implementation to monitor how well the process was working. The process was thus transparent in the sense that people would know why services were going to certain areas. She said that the policy would be phased in over a period of 5 years. She said that there were, to this end, Transformation management teams (TMTs) in 8 provinces. In addition there were also inter sectoral teams acting basically as oversight teams.
The chairperson, Mr E Saloojee (ANC), wanted to know why the policy had not come to the Portfolio Committee before being approved for implementation.
Ms Ned said that officials of the Welfare Department had been tasked to provide a document, which they did and presented it to the Minister and accounting officer. She agreed that the policy was a political document, which should have gone through the portfolio committee but did not because of the lack of time since they were told that the document had to be gazzetted by the middle of March.
A member from the ANC wanted to know how the poorest areas were identified and expressed the concern that certain very poor areas would be overlooked in terms of the provision of services.
Ms Ned said that this function was out-sourced to organisations like the Human Science Research Council and CSIR. These were national bodies that informed on priority setting for all government departments especially for rural development. They were able to say for example where the bulk of women were employed, where most people were affected by AIDS and where most children were born.
A member wanted to know who were in the Transformation Management Teams.
Ms Ned said that the TMT's were made up of government officials as well as senior accounting officers
Mr B Solo (ANC) remarked that a place like Gauteng actually had lots of infrastructure where certain things in terms of development could happen, and he wanted to know where these things were happening.
Ms Ned said that it was precisely because politicians could not provide the information about the location of infrastructure and organisations, that maps were needed. She said that his question simply re-affirmed this.
A committee member requested a lsit of the 8 TMTs that were already existing. Secondly she was concerned with existing organisations especially in the rural communities. She wanted to know whether there was an audit of such organisations which could confirm that for example, A, C, and F organisations would be receiving funding from January 2000.
Ms Ned confirmed that there was an audit of existing organisations which Welfare was funding but not of existing organisations which should receive funding. She said that mapping also came in here since it did not only concern poverty maps but also what was existing in terms of organisations and what the gaps were in terms of service delivery. She also said that maps would eliminate the problem of duplicate funding.
Ms J Chalmers of the ANC expressed concern with regard to the NGOs in the Eastern Cape and Transkei, which she said were stretched beyond limit, with minimal funding. She wanted to know how one could begin to put such an involved policy into place under such conditions. Secondly she wanted to know whether there was money to pay social workers higher salaries and in fact whether there was indeed enough money to make the policy a reality.
Ms Ned said that Welfare in fact does not dictate that social workers should get X amount of money. In terms of money she said that the law requires that in bargaining chambers through unions, the upgrading of salaries had to be negotiated. Furthermore she added that with the new policy, social workers, being development workers, were generally the best people for the job. Nevertheless she said that it had to be investigated whether it was indeed appropriate to actually employ a social worker for a specific project, for example to start a community project.
Ms Ramotsamaai from the ANC wanted to know whether the policy could be changed in any way because she said that it seemed as if the policy was already being applied. She also wanted to know whether the idea of a pilot project had been established to check whether the new policy would work. She remarked that Parliament had a tendency to pass policies that were not implementable and she did not want to add to unimplementable policies and laws.
Ms Ramotsamaai's first question was not answered. Ms Ned stated that pilot projects had in fact been done by NGOs. She stated however that these projects were not formal Welfare projects and were funded from the Netherlands.
Ms Ramotsamaai was not satisfied since she wanted reports of projects, which Ms Ned had been involved in. She said that since these informal "pilot projects" were not monitored they could not be relied upon. Ms Ned said that they had been monitored.
Ms Cupido (DP), wanted to know why the policy was not discussed in the committee and whether the Minister had the power to allow this.
Ms Ned acknowledged that the Financing Policy had not come about in the manner it should have, since for example there was no consultation with the committee in respect of the White Paper.
Another member said that she was concerned that her, and other constituencies might ask questions around issues raised with regard to the Financing Policy, and since the committee had not even been consulted on the policy, she was worried that she would not have answers to questions coming from her constituency concerning the Financing Policy. She also wanted to know what the Financing Policy budget was as well as the priorities with regard to the policy since she wanted to see if the constituencies wanted to re-prioritise. Finally she wanted to know if there was a list of welfare agencies.
Ms Ned said that as far as the list was concerned, members would be provided with a database of existing organisations. She said there would be a three year budget cycle but did not give any figures.
Mr M Masutha from the ANC stated that the existing legislative framework governing the financing of welfare services was inconsistent with the policy directions which were sought to be achieved through the new FP. He added that this was even confirmed in the Financing Policy itself which stated that the existing framework was not poised to accommodate the shift in policy. Thus he argued that in terms of the law, policy inconsistent with existing legislation was legally invalid and unenforceable. He was concerned that any person negatively affected by this could apply for appropriate relief in a court of law. He wanted to know how the Department intended to deal with such a hurdle, should it occur.
He also wanted to know whether it was the National Department of Welfare who took responsibility for implementing the policy, since he thought that welfare services were budgeted for at provincial level. He felt that provinces should have more of a say as far as implementation went since they had the resources.
Ms Ned confirmed that the budget was done at provincial level and said that planning was nevertheless done together with all provinces.
In terms of the legislation governing the funding, she acknowledged the weakness in that bits and pieces of legislation in terms of welfare existed. She said that one concise piece of legislation was needed to avoid confusion.
Ms Chalmers from the ANC said that this was a very important policy, which would change the face of Welfare and was therefore baffled by the fact that the Portfolio committee was, as Ms Ned admitted, completely left out of the process of formulating it. She requested at least a two-day workshop on the whole policy to look at it in depth. The chairperson agreed to "reach out" to the Minister for such a workshop. The chairperson said that the workshop was essential since the committee currently knew very little about the policy
There was consensus that the failure to actually consult the committee on the Financing Policy was extremely unfortunate. The members felt inadequately informed and quite helpless since the Financing Policy was already in operation and therefore any recommendations, which they made, could not really be of any use. Furthermore it was generally quite a concern of the members that a number of issues raised by them around the implementation of the Financing Policy were in fact not adequately dealt with. The chairperson echoed the concerns of the members and said that there had to be a workshop to scrutinise the policy in detail and thereby perhaps resolve some of the problems which the members had raised with regard to the policy. The meeting was adjourned.