Department Budget and Strategic Plans 2006/7: briefing; Committee Reports: adoption

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Defence and Military Veterans

13 March 2006
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Meeting report

PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON DEFENCE

DEFENCE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
14 March 2006
DEPARTMENT BUDGET AND STRATEGIC PLANS 2006/7: BRIEFING; COMMITTEE REPORTS: ADOPTION

Chairperson: Ms TV Tobias (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Memorandum from Department of Defence
Department of Defence Annual Report for 2005/6
Committee Annual Report 2005
Committee Report on oversight visit to Democratic Republic of Congo, 12/13 October 2005

SUMMARY
Department of Defence officials presented a briefing on the processes of compiling the Annual Report for 2005\2006. The annual budget cycle was explained in detail. The Department emphasised the importance of the Committee’s close interaction with the Department regarding the formulation of documents and reports. The Department also discussed the Strategic Business Plan and Budget, and the various Councils and Reports. The Committee would discuss the Department budget of R2.5 million at the following meeting the next day.

The Committee deliberated on its Committee Annual Report 2005 and Committee Report of its oversight visit to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and made some minor amendments before adoption.

MINUTES

Department Annual Report briefing
Mr H Khesa (Department Acting Director, Planning and Programmes) presented the process of compiling the Department Annual Report. He also discussed the aim, scope and background, and detailed the Planning, Budgeting and Reporting Cycles, versus Financial Years. Up to two years of expenditure was recorded each year in the budget cycle.

Mr Visser clarified that the Audit Management Committee was chaired solely by the Secretary who was head of the Department, and was not co-chaired by the Chief, who was only as a member of that Committee. The strategic business plan was used for the execution of each yearly financial cycle. Many staff were responsible for the Financial Statement and that each person was clearly identified within the Memorandum.

Mr Visser apologised that the Strategic Plan and Budget documents would only be made available the following day. He wished to know when the Committee would interact with the Department about these documents, which he hoped to do as soon as possible. Comparing the objectives stated in the previous year and the performance measures set in the current year, would enable the Committee to assess whether changes had been made.

Discussion
Mr M Sayedeli-Shah (DA) wanted clarification on the guidelines mentioned in the Annual Report. He questioned the layout and security concerns stemming from information excluded from the Annual Report. It was important that the Committee be made aware of what information had been excluded.

Mr Ntuli asked why the Committee had not been given sufficient information about the budget this year, and suggested that the Quarterly Reports be made available to the Committee.

Mr Moatshe referred to the previous year’s Annual Report and enquired about the computer system used that needed to be changed. The Chairperson added that the Committee would be briefed on the recommendations made for the rating system.

Mr Visser said that a Performance Audit was currently being done by the Auditor-General. This would be incorporated into the Audit Report that formed part of the Annual Report. The Secretary of the Department had requested that the Committee assess the ‘balanced scorecard method’. He emphasised that the Committee needed to engage with the Department during the formulation of the Strategic Business Plan and Annual Report. The Strategic Business Plan for 2004\2005 had been included in the Annual Report for 2006, and showed complete alignment with what had been executed in the Strategic Business Plan for 2004\2005. It was vital that the Treasury oversee the plan during the three years and make yearly adjustments.

The Council of Defence was chaired by the Minister, and the members of the Defence Council were supported by the Defence Staff Council. The latter consisted of the Secretary and Chiefs, including the Chief that co-chaired this committee. Department had been restructured to make it more efficient and effective by accommodating the Chief of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) as a member of the Audit Management Committee (AMC), with the Secretary as the Accounting Officer and Head of Department.

Mr Visser wanted to confirm with the Committee whether the guidelines had been adhered to. He stressed the importance of having a closed session for the Budget and Strategic Plan briefings, as they did not want the press issuing statements before the Minister delivered his Budget speech to the Department. The Committee would discuss the Department budget of R2.5 million at the following meeting the next day.

He explained the difference between an Annual Report and Court Report, that was an in-house document. If the Committee wanted access to the Court Report, they must gain permission from the Minister. He agreed that the computer systems needed to be changed, but the estimated costs to replace the systems were substantial. The Department had undertaken to rectify the problem.

Committee Report of Activities
The Chairperson briefly discussed the Report and highlighted mistakes identified by the Committee. Mr Antonie Visser (Department Chief Director: Budget Management) clarified that their report had been tabled on 13 October 2005. Other Members also made suggestions for minor technical amendments, which were adopted unanimously.

Committee Report on DRC oversight visit
Mr Booi discussed the main findings within the final draft document. He clarified that the Report on sexual abuse had not yet been finalised. The Recommendations on page 8 had been adhered to.

After additions of a few other minor technical amendments, Mr O Monareng (ANC) moved for the adoption of the Report and Mr Moatshe seconded it. The Committee unanimously adopted the Report with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.

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