Committee Annual Report and Other Reports: adoption

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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 March 2005
COMMITTEE ANNUAL REPORT AND OTHER REPORTS: ADOPTION

Acting Chairperson:
Mr R Baloyi (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Committee Annual Report (May – December 2004)
Committee Report on Strategic Planning Workshop
Committee Report on Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management Conference Consideration and Adoption of the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) report (see Appendix)

SUMMARY

Committee Annual Report
The Acting Chairperson, Mr Baloyi, went through the Report and explained the different items. The entities that report to the Committee included the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA), the Public Service Commission (PSC), the SA Management Development Institute (SAMDI) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). The latter was not a clear mandate.

In the report, the Chairperson’s Overview stated that factors such as Parliament’s financial support, programming inconsistencies, tight management of oversight visits and inconsistent attendance of Committee Members apparently due to multiple deployment to Committees that resulted in schedule clashes, had created challenging circumstances for the Committee.

The Committee had a R445 158.00 budget allocation. Up to the end of the calendar year, expenditure amounted to R181 323.90. Ongoing business of the Committee included the consideration and adoption of outstanding Committee reports and provincial oversight visit reports.

Discussion
Mr R Ntuli (DP) said he was concerned that if the Committee was under-spending, its budget might be cut and also with the bulk of legislation in place the Committee should be doing more site visits.

Ms H Mgabadeli (ANC) asked for an explanation as to what happened to the money that was not spent. If it went back to the Treasury what was it used for and who monitored what the Treasury did with the money?

Mr Baloyi clarified that the expenditure amount only included payments made to the end of the calendar year so the net difference would be less. He said that Parliament monitored the Treasury by way of the Portfolio Committee on Finance and the Finance Committee and individual Portfolio Committees also had a role to play.

Ms Mgabadeli was concerned that the report would be submitted to Parliament and they did not want to be seen as a Committee that failed to use allocated money. She wanted it explained that the Committee had many trips planned but various factors had caused these to be curtailed.

Mr Baloyi referred to the Chairperson’s Overview that highlighted the challenging circumstances that had faced the Committee.

Mr S Simmons (NNP) noted that this aspect had also been discussed at the workshop in Stellenbosch where the Speaker and the Minister had been present. The latter had been unaware that things were being turned down.

Ms L Maloney (ANC) suggested including an Addendum stating why the money was not spent and highlighting all the factors that the Committee had found to be reasons why the money could not be spent. They needed to include the dates when they had asked for financing and if and when it had been turned down.

Mr Baloyi agreed and said they should combine the comments and include a report as to why they had under-spent.

Ms Mgabadeli said they would definitely not spend the outstanding amount within the one month remaining. Mr Ntuli agreed as it amounted to 55% of the budget.

Mr J Mzondeki (ANC) said he would like to see that comment coming under Item 6 in the report so that it did not only appear under the Chairperson’s Overview. Mr Baloyi asked Mr Mzondeki to write such an addendum.

Ms Maloney agreed that the report should be adopted with this amendment and added that she felt the Committee should be looking for programs and short courses that Members could attend to upgrade their standards as Members of Parliament and to empower Members. It was not necessary to do only oversight visits.

Mr Baloyi said the Committee agreed with that and the report as amended would be accepted once Mr Mzondeki had completed the amendment.

Committee Report on the Annual Reports of Departments and Entities
Mr Baloyi said this was a one-page 2003/2004 Annual Report relating to the Department of Public Service and Administration, the Public Service Commission, the SA Management Development Institute and the State Information Technology Agency. He explained that an unqualified report was one that presented no problems. The DPSA, PSC and the SAMDI reports were accepted as unqualified reports. In regard to the SITA Annual Report the Portfolio Committee noted the need to further enquire into the Institutions financial accounts. An opinion on this report would be expressed as soon as the joint consideration of the said report with SCOPA had been completed. The report was adopted.

Committee Report on Commonwealth Association of Public Administration and Management Conference 2004
Mr Baloyi reported that this Singapore conference had been preceded buy a workshop in which participants had shared their views on a survey of why governments kept having organisational changes. The feedback was based on the experience of governments throughout the world and because the factors were not be the same in all countries it was imperative for governments to keep doing reviews. The report highlighted the challenges that South Africa faced. Mr Baloyi referred to the process whereby governments engaged with citizens. Although the conference involved much showcasing and competition between countries there were many lessons that could be learnt from the interaction.

The report suggested that Parliament and the Portfolio Committee should constantly participate in the activities of CAPAM and become members of CAPAM and he encouraged individual members themselves to also register for membership.

Discussion
Mr Baloyi asked the other two delegates who had attended the Conference (Messrs N Gcwabaza (ANC) and Ntuli) to comment on the report. Neither Mr Ntuli nor Mr Gcwabaza wanted to add anything more.

Mr Simmons asked if the Commonwealth Association distributed the publication "The Parliamentarian". Mr Gowabaza said it was an EU document.

Mr Zondeki proposed that the report be adopted.

Ms Maloney asked if there were any other reports from the Conference.

Mr Baloyi said the Department, the Johannesburg Metro and the PSC had delivered papers at the conference. The latter’s had been exactly the same as the one presented to the Portfolio Committee.

The report was adopted.

Committee Report on SA Local Government Association Conference
Mr Baloyi explained that the delegates to this conference had been invited only as observers and that SALGA was busy finalising the Conference report. There would be areas of common interest that the Committee would be able to learn from. The SALGA Report would be circulated to Members and SALGA would be engaged with to consider the recommendations.

Discussion
Mr Mzonkile said that it was important that the report explained the ‘observer status’ of the delegates. One needed to understand why the report was so short.

Ms Maloney said that even with observer status those who attended could have given more feedback so that when the report came from SALGA the Committee would already have information to help with the its oversight role. One could not just go as observers to a conference and not capture anything.

Mr Baloyi said the report did mention the observer status. He said if the Parliamentary programme permitted, the Committee should prioritise its engagement with SALGA and thereafter submit an informed report to Parliament.

Mr Ntuli said given the fact that they were moving towards a unified public service, he asked that a special meeting with SALGA be organised. The report could be used as a foundation document to give the Committee a better understanding of local government issues, which he personally knew very little about.

Ms Simmons said the delegates could have included the issues that had been discussed and the decisions that had been taken. The Committee would then have been better informed before it received the SALGA report.

Ms Mgabadeli wanted to see a positive spin-off being built from the conference.

Ms P Mashangoane (ANC) said the delegation was supposed to represent the Portfolio Committee and it should have given the delegates a mandate that would have informed them as to what was expected of them. It was difficult now to say what was wanted because a mandate had not been given.

Mr Baloyi commented that if one was delegated to represent the Committee whatever status one was given one needed to do one’s best.

Mr Baloyi concluded that the report was thus still work in progress and that SALGA would be engaged with as soon a possible.

Ms Maloney said it should be taken as a principle of the Committee that before delegates went to a conference the Committee had to work out what one wanted to achieve and the delegates needed to know beforehand what is expected of them.

Mr Mzondeki said it was seldom that delegates had to remain non-participators throughout a Conference. He said even observers would be able to participate in breakaway sessions and workshops. One needed to understand beforehand how the different conferences would work and what was expected of the delegates.

Mr Baloyi said there was agreement that the report was still work in progress.

In response to Mr Mzondeki question, Mr Baloyi explained that all Committees had been asked to reconsider and to cut their budgets. The total sum requested by Committees amounted to R95 million and this was too much with the local government elections coming up in late 2005 or early 2006. A proposal had been made that the international visits be taken out of the budget. It had since emerged however, that invitations to three overseas conferences had been received. The Secretary was going to look at items in the budget that could be cut and the outcome would be discussed at the next meeting. At a meeting of all the Committee Chairpersons, there had been consensus that they did not want to have to cut their budgets.

Mr Zondeki said he did not understand the connection between downsizing the budget because of the elections. He asked if the Chairperson could clarify this when he returned.

Mr Baloyi said the thinking was that because Members had to prepare for local government elections, there might be a very short session in Parliament at the end of 2005. He said no one was certain when the elections were. He said the item under discussion was not on the table and would not be discussed further.

Ms Maloney said she did not understand how Parliament worked and that they should be taken on about this. Why did one have to cut budgets because Parliament was not organised properly?

Mr Baloyi said it was very frustrating. He added that the current Parliamentary Programme only ran until July.

Public Protector’s Special Report No 19
Mr Baloyi noted an item on the Public Protectors Special Report No 19 had been considered at the last meeting of the Committee. A decision had been taken after the Minister and the Public Protector had come to brief the Committee on the report. It was a 2002 issue and some of the things might have already been attended to. It also referred to 1997/1998 Review Report that submitted recommendations about governments at local level as well as the Presidential Review Report.

The Committee had decided it would not sign a blank cheque stating things were all well but that a fact finding mission was needed to seven of the provinces (Gauteng and Western Cape excluded). The predominantly rural areas would be concentrated on.

Discussion
Mr Ntuli suggested having a format that highlighted the questions that needed to be asked when doing these visits.

Mr Baloyi said they would be briefed on this issue and the Chairpersons of the Select Committees would also be invited to that meeting.

The last item Mr Baloyi introduced were the conferences that the PC had been invited to attend namely;
The International Institutes of Administrative Scientists Conference in Italy, The International Associations of Institutes and Schools of Administration Conference in Germany and a Commonwealth International Conference on Engaging Citizens in Australia. These conferences would take place in July, August and September. The details would be considered at a meeting the following week.

Mr Baloyi asked for any further comments from members.

Ms Mgabadeli felt very strongly that observers to the Committee meetings should be introduced to Members, as sometimes Committee deliberations were misinterpreted by the media.

Ms Maloney commented that it was a People’s Parliament and visitors, scholars and the public had to be welcomed in meetings. Mr Baloyi agreed that all visitors should be introduced.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix:

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON SALGA CONFERENCE HELD IN CAPE TOWN INTERNATIONAL CONVENTION CENTRE ON 23 – 26 SEPT 04.

1. The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration, having been invited to attend the 3rd SALGA Conference with observer status on 23 – 26 September 2004 in the Cape Town International Convention Centre:

  1. Sent the following Member delegation;
  2. Mr. PJ Gomomo (ANC) – Chairperson

    Mr. B Mthembu (ANC)

    Mr. KJ Minnie (DA)

  3. Notes that SALGA reported that it is finalizing the full conference report with recommendations to be distributed in due course.

2. The Committee undertakes to distribute the said conference report to all Members of Parliament for information, as soon as it will be made available.

 

___________________________ ____________________

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