Preparations for Medium Term Budget Policy Statement

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Meeting Summary

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Meeting report


20 October 2006

Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC)

Relevant documents
Draft Committee Programme for Medium Term Budget Policy Statement 2006
Terms of Reference for Joint Budget Committee
Joint Budget Committee Report on Medium Term Budget Policy Statement 2005

The Committee met to prepare for their engagement with the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. The members reflected on the guiding principles contained in the Committee's Terms of Reference. The Committee agreed to systematically follow up on progress made with the key areas raised in the Joint Budget Committee Report on the 2005 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. These included examining the expenditure patterns within all departments, follow-up on rural development progress and emphasise the need for coordination within and among departments and clusters. It was agreed that the committee researcher prepare background information on these key issues.

The Chair stated that it was important to begin preparing for the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement which was to be tabled by National Treasury on Thursday, 26 October 2006. He drew attention to the Committee’s Terms of Reference which stated that it was the Joint Budget Committee’s mandate to ‘consider, when tabled, the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, with the exception of those sections dealing with the macro-economic situation and revenue’. He stressed however, that the capability to do this followed from the committee’s capacity to ‘monitor on a regular basis, actual expenditure and revenue within each of the Departments’.

The Chair said that there were critical issues in the 2005 report that needed follow up. These included:
- How some of the inefficiencies of departments would be addressed and reflected in adjusted budgets from National Treasury;
- What would be the view of National Treasury with regards to these departments?

Mr G Scheeman (ANC) agreed with the Chair’s observations. He stated that it was important that the Committee be furnished with information on expenditure patterns within each department as reflected in the quarterly reports. The Committee researcher should collate the information and provide highlights in advance to enable members to prepare adequately.

Ms D Robinson requested that the researcher look at the expenditure patterns on libraries, and to provide a national overview of the current situation. It is clear that resources were allocated for this area, but very little had happened.

Mr Scheeman said that all Medium Term Budget Policy Statements place due emphasis on urban and rural development. However, evidence showed that there had been little progress on the development of rural nodes since 2003. He requested the Committee researcher to provide a synopsis of where things are.

The Chair agreed that this was indeed a critical issue, and there was a need to interact with the Department of Provincial and Local Government to garner a sense of progress and the challenges faced.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) expressed concern about compacting departments during hearings. Departments often resort to blame shifting, blaming other departments, and this was especially apparent in critical areas such as buildings/infrastructure development.

The Chair responded that although the Departmental hearings were held in clusters, more coordination and linkages between them was required. This was especially so for the economic and social ones. He said departments from these two clusters would be asked to attend the relevant meetings.

Mr Scheeman suggested that the Committee should consider developing a standard set of questions, and perhaps some specific ones, that could be targeted to each department.

The Chair agreed that this was a good suggestion. But emphasised that these should focus on budgetary and fiscal issues within departments, he also proposed that the Committee’s Terms of Reference could be used to provide a guiding framework.

Ms Robinson said that it would be important to establish the total allocation made to the Justice Sector as a whole, as this was an important, but weak area. Mr Kolweni added that evidence showed that current structures being built within the Justice Sector failed short at being locally driven.

The Chair agreed that these were critical issues, and they tallied with concerns regarding coordination and integration between and among clusters and Departments. 

The Committee made some amendments to the draft program and agreed that the Secretary would furnish all the relevant documentation by 23 October 2006.

The meeting was adjourned.


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