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JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
07 November 2006
MEDIUM TERM BUDGET POLICY STATEMENT REPORT: CONSIDERATION
Co-chairpersons: Ms L Mabe (ANC) and Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC Mpumalanga)
Draft Report on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
The Committee continued its consideration of its Report on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. Members proposed additional recommendations to the Report. The Committee was unable to formally adopt the Report as it was still a work in progress. Members did however agree to the Report in principle, as amended.
Following the meeting held on the previous day, Members proposed the following additional recommendations to page 35 of the Report:
Ms Mabe recommended that Parliament enhance the Committee’s effectiveness in monitoring and evaluating department budget implementation throughout the financial year. Such effectiveness could only be successfully realized by substantially increasing the Committee’s research staff complement. A larger and capacitated staff complement would place the Committee in a better position to effectively prepare its response to the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), and also to prepare appropriate frameworks within the various departments.
Dr P Rabie (DA) recommended the specification of the human resource needs of the Committee. This would include allocating the funds available to the Committee to acquire the required number and level of skill of researcher and to ensure, amongst other things, capacity building and training of its Members in the area of budget analysis techniques.
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) recommended that the time period given to the Committee to interact with the MTBPS be extended in order to allow for a more interactive and intensive process.
Ms J Fubbs (ANC) suggested that the current levels of capacity within national departments be improved. Departments need to put in place plans to deal with the filling of vacancies, both within the higher and lower management structure. Departments must then report back to the Committee on the progress made as well as the impact of the vacancies on the Department’s ability to carry out its mandate before the end of the 2006/7 financial year. Departments need to develop a strategy to retain staff, which was important in order to establish continuity and to ensure stability in service delivery.
Mr G Schneeman (ANC) suggested that the Committee should also formalize a response to the relevant national departments responsible for local government capacity building, in order to effectively implement national department’s plans.
Mr Mkhaliphi expressed concern over the existence of ‘ghost posts’ within government departments. He recommended that the Committee instruct the Department of Public Service and Administration (DPSA) to report back to the Committee on its plans to address the issue. That Department must also be instructed to develop and implement appropriate staff measuring systems.
Dr Rabie recommended that national departments be required to monitor conditional grants to the provincial and local government spheres. The discretionary powers of provinces to utilize the equitable share should be reviewed, as it compromised the successfulness of the implementation of their internal Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) structures.
Ms Fubbs recommended that the Committee advise government departments to use the medium term budget to project their spending and budgets. The practice followed by efficient departments and institutions, such as the National Treasury and the South African Revenue Service (SARS), should be used as models.
The Committee decided to remove points seven and eight from the Report, which dealt with the oversight framework and the comparative studies of public oversight structures, respectively. A similar decision was taken on point four on the suggestion of the Indaba between the departments, point ten which suggested that government departments be called to account on a monthly basis and point fourteen, which dealt with social grant uptakes.
Members agreed to merge point nine which dealt with the vacant Director-General post within the Department of Public Works, with point two which dealt with local government capacity building.
In conclusion, the Committee was unable to formally adopt the Report as it was still a work in progress. The adoption was subject to the review of some of the wording of the recommendations and other grammatical errors. Members did however agree to the Report in principle, as amended.
The meeting was adjourned.
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