Committee Resolutions on Public Entities’ Annual Reports, & Committee’s Australian Study Tour Report: adoption

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report

MINERALS AND ENERGY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE

PUBLIC ACCOUNTS STANDING COMMITTEE
8 June 2005
COMMITTEE RESOLUTIONS ON PUBLIC ENTITIES’ ANNUAL REPORTS, AND COMMITTEE’S AUSTRALIAN STUDY TOUR REPORT: ADOPTION

Acting Chairperson:
Mr V Smith (ANC)

Documents handed out:
[Please email
info@pmg.org.za for documents]
Committee Weekly Programme (draft 22)
Committee Provisional Programme 2005
Committee Report on 2005 Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees Conference
Draft resolutions tabled by Group 1
Draft resolutions tabled by Group 2

SUMMARY
The meeting dealt with report backs by the two subcommittee workgroups and adoption of their resolutions. Group One reported on its consideration of ten draft resolutions on the Annual Reports of different public entities, the categorisation of a further eight Annual Reports, and put draft resolutions on another two Annual Reports forward for adoption. These resolutions were adopted.

Group Two reported on the categorisation of 12 Annual Reports, the imminent categorisation of a further four Annual Reports and put draft resolutions on another 20 Annual Reports forward for adoption. All of the draft reports were adopted unopposed. The Committee also discussed and adopted a report on their study tour to Australia, and the future format of such reports.

MINUTES

Committee minutes
The Committee Clerk’s minutes from the meeting of 1 June were adopted with minor technical amendments. The Chairperson mentioned that Mr B Kannemeyer’s (ANC) replacement, Mr C Molefe (ANC) was attending for the first time as a full Member of the Committee. Mr Y Wang’s (ID) replacement was yet to be announced.

Group One Report
Mr P Gerber (ANC) spoke as the convenor for Group One. He stated that they had considered ten draft resolutions at their last meeting. These included the Export Credit Insurance Corporation of SA Ltd, the Corporation for Public Deposits, the Greater St Lucia Wetland Park, the SA National Accreditation System, the Accounting Standards Board, the Development Bank of SA, the National Botanical Institute, the SA National Parks Board, and the National Gambling Board.

The group had also categorised the following financial reports: the SA Veterinary Council was categorised as a category "C"; Aventura Resorts were categorised as a category "B"; and, the SA Tourism Board as "C". In addition, the financial reports of the following SETAs (Sector Education and Training Authorities) were also categorised: Clothing, Textiles, Footwear and Leather as "C"; Service as a "C"; Secondary Agricultural as a "B"; Energy as a "B"; and THETA (the Tourism and Hospitality SETA) also as a "B".

Group One also discussed the Land Bank hearing and the correspondence that was subsequently received. Additional documentation was requested; therefore the draft resolution on the Land Bank was being held over.

Group Two Report
Ms L Mabe (ANC) spoke as the convenor for Group Two. The group had categorised the following reports: the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as a "C"; the IEC political party funds report as a "B"; the Compensation Commission: Occupational Diseases as an "A"; Bushbuck Ridge Water as an "A"; Ikangala Water Board as a "B"; and Amatola Water as a "B". Of the entities that fell under the Department of Arts and Culture, the following reports were categorised: The National Film and Video Foundation as a "C"; Nelson Mandela Museum as a "C"; Pan South African Language Board as a "B"; Performing Arts Centre of the Free State as a "B" and the Playhouse Company as a "B". The reports of the Umalusi Council for Quality Assurance and the Independent Complaints Directorate were both categorised as "C" reports.

The Group was still to decide on the categorisation of the reports of the Departments of Education and Provincial and Local Government, and the South African Local Government Association (SALGA). Ms Mabe asserted that it would seem that these three institutions might have to be called in for hearings. The outcome of the categorisation of the entire Compensation Commission was also yet to be finalised.
Group Two had finalised the public hearing on the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry. It would take place on 22 June. The Auditor-General would deliver a briefing on 14 June.

Committee Programme
Ms Mabe stated that if confirmation was received, Bushbuckridge Water and the Department of Water Affairs and Forestry would be heard on the same day, as Group Two deemed the hearing of the former to be urgent. Mr Smith indicated that confirmation had been received and that the two entities would indeed be heard on 22 June.

Group One requested two days for hearings during the third term. The Committee agreed on 17 and 24 August for this purpose. Group One would indicate at a later stage which entities would be called on those days.

With reference to the visit of the Malaysian Auditor-General indicated for 14 - 19 August, Mr Trent proposed that arrangements be made for the reception of- and interaction with foreign delegations upon their visits to Parliament, and to the Committee in particular, so that they were not neglected. The Committee adopted the proposal unopposed and Mr Smith requested the planning sub-committee to make suitable arrangements.

Ms Mabe proposed that the Committee plenary envisaged for 7 September be utilised for a hearing and that the briefing by the Auditor-General on 14 September be rescheduled in favour of a briefing on the Municipal Financial Management Act. The proposal was adopted unopposed.

Adoption of resolutions
Twenty-two draft resolutions on Annual Reports — all for the year ended 31 March 2004 — and a stand-alone resolution on a hearing of the National Treasury, were put forward for adoption.

Group One put forward two draft resolutions on Annual Reports, both of which were adopted unanimously. The first of these was on the Department of Defence. A distinguishing feature of the draft was its concluding interrogation of the feasibility of the Rooivalk project. Mr Trent, in particular, spoke out favourably on this as it probed the cost effectiveness of the venture. The Committee adopted the resolution with minor technical changes.

The second draft resolution was on the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF). As a result of the continued non-performance of the institution, the Group concluded the draft resolution with a strongly worded proposal that the Minister investigate the possibility of negligence and misconduct at the UIF with a view to instituting disciplinary action where required. The proposal also required that the outcome of the investigation be reported back to the Committee within sixty days of the tabling of the report.

Ms Mabe expressed the support of Group Two for the draft resolution. The Acting Chair requested Mr Gerber to monitor that the response from the Executive on the proposed investigation was indeed sent to the Committee.

Group Two presented 20 draft resolutions on Annual Reports. Of these, eight draft resolutions were adopted unanimously and without any changes. They were the draft resolutions on the Council for Medical Schemes, the Engelenburg House Art Collection, the National Home Builders Registration Council, the National Prosecuting Authority, the National Urban and Reconstruction and Housing Agency, the Public Service Commission, the Rural Housing Loan Fund and the SA Council for Educators.

A further ten draft resolutions were adopted unanimously, but with some minor technical changes. They were the draft resolutions on the Municipal Demarcation Board, Statistics SA, Business and Arts SA, the National Housing Finance Corporation Limited, the Presidency, the Social Housing Foundation, the Special Investigating Unit, Sport and Recreation SA, Thubelisa Homes and the William Humphreys Art Gallery.

Mr Trent argued for the attachment of a 60-day timeframe to recommendations made in the remaining two draft resolutions. The first of these concerned the recommendation in the draft resolution on the Department on Health that the Department should ensure the appointment of members and the functional operation of the Board of Trustees of the SA National AIDS Trust (SANAT) "as a matter of urgency". The second concerned the recommendation in the draft resolution on Parliament which tasked the institution’s accounting officers with investigating the possibility of recovering the amount of R87 000 granted to former Members of Parliament as loans to purchase motor vehicles "as a matter of urgency".

In both instances, the Committee unanimously adopted the resolutions with further minor technical changes.

The National Treasury resolution attempted to provide a conclusion to a hearing with the said institution on 13 October 2004. The Committee agreed to let the resolution stand over for consolidation of resolutions on imminent future interactions with the National Treasury on the same issues, as it would ensure greater clarity and purpose for the document.

Committee Studytour Reports
It was agreed that the report on the trip to Canada would stand over until the next plenary when Mr Beukman would be available to present it.

Mr Gerber presented the draft report on the study trip to the 2005 Australasian Council of Public Accounts Committees’ 8th Biennial Conference held in Parliament House, Brisbane, Australia. The objective was to enrich the knowledge of the Committee on the oversight of public accounts. Papers were delivered by Members of various legislatures in Australasia, as well as from tertiary institutions in Australia. The delegation centred their participation on trends in reporting and accountability issues relating to government outsourcing and non-profit organisations.

Mr Gerber placed emphasis on the existence of a Public Sector Governance and Accountability Research Centre, which prided itself on being the first institution in the world to provide academic support to Public Accounts Committee Members, as an example of an important resource organisation for public accounts committees.

Dr G Woods (IFP) and Ms Mabe felt that the report was lacking in substance, as it conveyed no new knowledge to the Committee.

Mr Gerber conceded that the report might be flawed, but pointed to the novelty of this type of report to the Committee. He also argued that there were neither terms of reference supplied to the delegation for the study tour, nor for the composition of the report. He proposed that the documentary information collected at the Conference be made available to Members to supplement the contents of the report.

Mr Smith suggested that the information be handed over to the Committee researcher for synthesis. Mr Trent added that all articles obtained in this manner should be handed over to the researcher for synthesis into a working paper. He argued that many of the issues brought up by Mr Gerber were common to the issues that emanated from the study tour to Canada, and would also find resonance in future endeavours of this kind.

Dr Woods emphasised the importance of ‘translating’ the money spent by the Committee on empowering itself through educational tours, into an improved work method and output quality. The Committee agreed that proper terms of reference needed to be decided upon before Members embarked on future study tours, but resolved to adopt the report on the Australian tour in its current form.

The meeting was adjourned.

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