Committee Annual Report 2005: adoption

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


24 March 2006

Mr B J Mkhaliphi (ANC, NCOP), Ms L L Mabe (ANC, NA)

Documents handed out:
Annual Report of the Joint Budget Committee January- December 2005
Statement of national revenue, expenditure and borrowing as at 31 January 2006, issued by the Director General: National Treasury.
Strategic Plan of the Joint Budget Committee

The Committee considered and adopted its 2005 Annual Report. The report outlined the Committee’s milestones, activities and challenges for 2005. It highlighted the poor attendance record of Members although extenuating circumstances were also included in the report. In addition, Members felt that the Committee required more dedicated staff considering the complexity of its work.

Co-chairperson Mkhaliphi explained that although there had been joint deliberation with other committees, this was the first fully-fledged meeting of the JBC for 2006. He explained that a meeting had been called for 22 March but due to poor attendance, this meeting had been called off. He believed poor attendance was a major challenge for the JBC.

Mr Mkhaliphi commented that Members should already be familiar with the report. He suggested some technical amendments to the report.

Mr T Ralane (ANC, NCOP) commented that he felt the reference point on the absence of Members at meetings needed substantiation. Members were not deliberately absent, but there had also been numerous problems with the scheduling of parliamentary committees.

Mr B A Mguni (ANC, NA) agreed that problems were caused when Members were sitting on several committees. This led to scheduling clashes.

Dr P J Rabie (DA, NA) asked if it was possible for Members to receive the Committee programme in advance so that they were able to plan their attendance. This was particularly the case for smaller parties where individual Members had to sit on many committees. He believed this would go some way in eliminating poor attendance.

Mr Mkhaliphi said these comments were noted and appreciated.

Mr Ralane believed that the deliberations with other committees had not been official interactions. They had happened as a result of Members of this Committee also sitting on the Select Budget Committee. There had been no official joint deliberations.

Mr Ralane felt that the report’s reference to the absence of a dedicated researcher as a challenge should be broader to include the lack of dedicated support staff for the Committee considering the complexity of its work.

Mr Ralane believed that the section on the vision and mission of the Committee should be removed from the report as it was stating the obvious. The report had to only demonstrate the activities of the Committee for the reporting period.

Ms Robinson (DA) said that seeing as this was the first official meeting of this Committee, it would perhaps not be such a bad idea to include its vision and mission in the report.

Mr Mguni felt that it was important that the vision and mission were included as the report was a public document and on reading it, the public might be somewhat confused about the role of the Committee if an explanation was not included.

Mr Mkaliphi explained that whatever view Members took of this matter, they should be aware that the vision and mission formed part of the format prescribed for Committee Annual Reports by Parliament.

Mr Mguni believed the standard annual report format contained constraints. He mentioned documents that had been referred to the Committee (international agreements, protocols, reports) and stated that its terms of reference did not include these matters. However, the Committee should stick to the prescribed format for now.

Co-Chairperson Mabe said that if there was any need for the format to be altered, it could be raised at the Chairpersons’ Forum but for now the Committee should follow the prescribed format.

Mr Mkaliphi said the Committee could not escape the number of meetings that had been cancelled. He stressed that he was not blaming Members solely for this state of affairs, but they should take careful note of the number of meetings that had been cancelled. Nine out of a possible thirty-one meetings had been cancelled. This created a worrying picture of the functioning of the Committee. The problem was that Parliament was treating the JBC as just another joint committee which met on Fridays. There were substantial constraints on meeting on Fridays.

Mr Mkaliphi commented that he was sure Members were aware of a keen interest by parliamentarians from other countries in the JBC. They had sought clarity on how South Africa’s JBC was constituted, its mandate and its relationship with Parliament as a whole. He explained that at some point it might be necessary for the Committee to visit other countries with well-established joint budget committees to gain and share expertise. He stressed this could not happen until the Committee had mastered its own mandate.

Dr Rabie pointed out that he had been privileged to serve on an Ad Hoc Committee that investigated establishing the JBC. A substantial amount of research had been done and it was discovered that three countries, Sweden, Germany and India, had joint budget committees. He believed it would be very constructive to investigate the work of these committees. He added that they enjoyed substantial staffing.

Ms R J Mashigo (ANC, NA) commented that she understood that the National Council of Provinces was modelled on the Bavarian system. Why had the Committee not investigated how Bavaria’s Joint Budget Committee worked? She believed this could be a very useful exercise.

Mr Ralane felt that the report should not mention outstanding matters as they did not properly belong in annual reports. He also suggested that it might be beneficial to align the annual report with the financial year, although he appreciated the complications of doing this. This issue had been raised in the NCOP Chairpersons’ Committee.

Mr Mkaliphi commented that as already highlighted, the report was required by Parliament and had to correspond to the calendar year as opposed to the financial year. This suggestion was however an avenue that could be explored further.

Ms Mabe explained that the report could not be adopted as a quorum of Members was not present.

After an adjournment, the quorum was reached and the report was adopted with amendments.

The meeting was adjourned.


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