Annual Report Requirements: National Treasury Workshop

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Meeting report

LABOUR AND PUBLIC ENTERPRISES AND ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEES: JOINT MEETING
26 October 2005
ANNUAL REPORT REQUIREMENTS: NATIONAL TREASURY WORKSHOP

Chairperson
: Ms M P Themba (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports
Guide for a Preparation of Annual Reports
Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports

SUMMARY

National Treasury briefed the Committee on what it should achieve by means of legislative oversight of the annual reports of departments. Members believed that this workshop would enable them to effectively scrutinize the annual reports. The Committee raised concerns about those departments that failed to submit their reports to Parliament on time. Members were also concerned about departments that received unqualified audit reports and yet under spent on their budgets.

Members observed that their recommendations were not at all times implemented. It was recommended that the rules of Parliament should be amended to accommodate in-depth evaluation of annual reports.

MINUTES
Mr. Nols du Plessis, Chief Director: Public Finance Management, National Treasury gave training on the topics below (see document for details):

Legislative Oversight through Annual Reports

The Constitution and oversight
Public Finance Management Act (PFMA) requirements for tabling of annual reports
Proposed oversight process
Roles of Portfolio Committees and SCOPA
Other role-players in evaluation process
Proposed phases during evaluation process
Conclusion

Guide for preparation of Annual Reports
General information
Programme performance
Report of the Audit Committee
Annual Financial Statements
Human Resource Management
Aim of overseeing performance

Discussion
The Chairperson commented that the workshop was critical for improving the performance of Members when scrutinising annual reports. She emphasised that it would equip Members with skills to effectively consider the reports.

Mr Hendricks (UIF) asked for the reasons behind fiscal dumping. Mr N du Plessis attributed the problem of fiscal dumping to lack of proper planning. He recommended that national and provincial government departments should improve their planning in order to avoid fiscal dumping.

A Member asked what could be done about Departments that failed to submit their annual reports on time. Mr du Plessis replied that it was within the powers of Parliament to take strong action against such Departments.

Ms S Mabe (ANC) asked, when a Minister responded to a report, did he/she respond to a Committee or to the House as a whole? Mr du Plessis said the response should be made to the House as a whole. He further recommended that there should be discussions between the Select and Portfolio Committee before a report could be submitted to Parliament. The Chairperson added that the joint meetings would assist Members.

Mr. J Sibiya (ANC) observed that the recommendations of Select Committees on annual reports were often not implemented. He asked how could they rectify this problem. Mr. du Plessis agreed that a way had to be found to effectively deal with such situations.

Mr. Hendricks asked what happened after an audit had been qualified. Mr du Plessis replied that the affected departments were instructed to submit plans to rectify the qualification. Only five national Departments had received qualified audit reports which could be ascribed to the success of implementing the PFMA.

Mr. D Gamede (ANC) asked whether annual reports reflected the equity performance of departments. Was there a mechanism to reconcile unqualified audit reports and under spending? Mr. du Plessis indicated that equity performance was reflected in all annual reports of State entities. National Treasury had a responsibility to act on instances of under spending.

The meeting was adjourned.

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