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STANDING COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC ACCOUNTS
1 March 2007
INTERACTION WITH NORWEGIAN DELEGATION
Chairperson: Mr T Godi (PAC)
Documents handed out
Audio recordings of the meeting
The Norwegian delegation has held a series of meetings with committees as part of their ten day study tour to South Africa and Uganda. The Public Accounts Standing committee and the Norwegian delegation compared the functioning of their respective government systems. Issues discussed included the reduction of the abuse of power, financial oversight and employment rates.
Mr Carl l. Hagen, Norwegian Parliament member, explained the Norwegian government structure and the main functions of the Public Accounts committee in Norway. The committee’s main functions are to perform checks and balances over Parliament; collaborate with the Auditor General and protect public interest. As Norway has a majority political party government, it has adopted regulations to reduce the possibility of abuse of power and amend the constitution where necessary. In Norway committees only needed a third of members to propose a query to the minister or have public hearings.
Mr Inge Ryan, Vice Norwegian Committee Chairperson, asked what has been done to reduce the high unemployment rate and whether the youth have been included.
The Chairperson stated that they had been working hard to reduce the unemployment rate. Programs have been initiated such as the Umsobomvu Youth Fund and Expanded Public works programme to develop skills and increase entry into the workforce. The impact of these programmes will take time to monitor.
Mr E W Trent (IFP) added that there had been much debate on the issue of employment. South Africa had a limited amount of skilled workers and the government had invested money into skills development but the results had not been encouraging.
Mr D M Gumede (ANC) remarked on the Norwegian unemployment insurance system and hoped that South Africa would be able to develop a similarly successful system.
Mr Per-Kristian Foss, Norwegian Parliament member, asked how the South Africa Government dealt with preventing majority party power abuse, political appointments and nepotism.
The Chairperson replied that regulations are in place which monitor the monetary expenditure of Parliament members. The Auditor General performs financial reports of all departments. All appointments are advertised and go through a selection process.
Mr E W Trent (IFP) noted that public entities must fill out a declaration of interest.
Ms Magnhild Metveit Kleppa, Norwegian Parliament member, asked how the committee functioned and if they had any influence over the department’s budget.
The Chairperson replied that tasks are divided between two committees, provincial and national. Each member oversees certain issues before they are rotated but, on occasion a member will request to remain on the same matter. SCOPA solely deals with financial issues of departments and proposes recommendations to the minister. Committees have limited influence over the department’s budget.
Ms L M Mashiane (ANC) stated that SCOPA receives approximately 200 reports annually, which are then classified into a priority list.
Mr E W Trent (IFP) noted that the committee should have more influence and a law should be enacted to assist in this matter.
Mr G T Madikiza (UDM) noted that the committee does have indirect influence through the ability to advise departments.
Mr Lodve Solholm, Norwegian Committee Chairperson, commented that South Africa had been progressing well. It had taken Norway 99 years since the adoption of the constitution to reach the current state of affairs.
The Chairperson said he would speak to the ANC about only needing a third of Committee Members to propose a matter to the Minister.
The meeting was adjourned.
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