A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE & FINANCE SELECT COMMITTEE: JOINT MEETING
31 August 2007
BUDGET GUIDELINES & CABINET PRIORITES: NATIONAL TREASURY BRIEFING
Co-Chairpersons: Ms L Mabe (ANC); Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC, Mpumalanga)
Documents handed out:
Treasury presentation on Budget Guidelines & 2008 Budget Process
Medium Term Expenditure Framework: Treasury Guidelines for 2008 MTEF
Framework for Managing Programme Performance Information
Development Indicators Mid-Term Review
Committee Expenditure Report
Audio recording of meeting
National Treasury presented on the mechanics of the Medium-Term Expenditure budgeting process. Departments were granted a baseline figure which was increased annually during the three-year cycle based on inflation. They could then make bids for extra funding. Structures were in place to consider such requests, which would ultimately have to be approved by Parliament. Treasury had drawn up guidelines, which had been distributed to all national and provincial departments. There were a total of 34 budget votes considered by Parliament. Departments should distinguish between ongoing and once-off expenses. When infrastructure projects were approved, the department involved must also consider expenses related to maintenance of these facilities once they were in use. Projects were divided into three categories based on their size.
Members asked for clarity on how the baseline funding was determined, and what role was played by user funds. Conditional grants were paid to provinces for certain purposes, but the provincial departments often did not use these funds as they could not comply with the conditions attached to the grant. An ongoing problem was the number of vacancies, and Members thought this might represent a false saving. Clarity was also needed on the purpose of the contingency reserve. This was primarily for unplanned and unexpected expenses, but funds for a department had been placed in the reserve until that department had met the conditions for use thereof.
The Presidency was very involved in the monitoring and evaluation of performance. Treasury had developed a system of indicators that could be used by departments to evaluate their performance. Five departments were already involved in a pilot programme, while others were taking part on a voluntary basis. It was planned that all departments would follow the programme by 2009.
Members appreciated the initiatives of Treasury as it would help them in their oversight role. It was mentioned that departmental officials were already heavily burdened by the amount of reporting that was required of them.
Ms Mabe commented that the Committee present were interested only in seeing service delivery taking place. She welcomed the Medium Term Expenditure Committee (MTEC) delegation from the National Treasury. This was the second engagement within a week, and she hoped it would be fruitful. She also welcomed a Free State Member of the Provincial Legislature (MPL), as the issues to be raised had a direct impact on the provinces. She hoped that provincial legislatures would send people to the meetings of the Committee occasionally.
Medium Term Expenditure Committee (MTEC) in National Treasury: presentation
Ms Lesley Fisher (Director Planning, MTEC) said that the presentation would deal with mid-term framework guidelines, and guidelines issued by MTEC on the budgeting process. The guidelines were normally sent out in May or June, and were instructions on how to budget for the three-year Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget. They applied to national and provincial departments, but there were specific guidelines for the provinces. She noted that the quality of non-financial information was improving.
She used a simple example to illustrate the MTEF budgeting process. It was a rolling three-year budget process, with a year-on-year increase to balance the effects of inflation. The baseline was a guaranteed figure, and was increased for inflation. The department could then bid for extra resources for new considerations. The extra funds allocated in response to these requests were only a small part of the total budget. The Medium-Term Expenditure Committee listened to the proposals, examined business plans, determined the motivations, capacity of the department to utilise any funds granted to it, studied cost benefit analyses and other pertinent questions. The process for the current year would start the following week. National departments would run the process while the provinces would go through their own process.
It was up to the departments to interrogate the baseline. Tough questions had to be asked. There was a culture of requesting new money. Parliament had a critical oversight role to play. MTEC made recommendations to the Ministers’ Committee on the Budget, and the decisions taken there were referred to Cabinet. The process for 2008 was underway, with bids being examined and resources being determined. There was a focus on Cluster priorities, and some were easier to determine than others. MTEC wished to avoid vacuum planning. The format allowed provincial Heads of Department to join the discussion. It was a valuable opportunity to engage. Budgeting for the outer years of the three-year cycle was important. There had to be a focus on the core mandate of departments. The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) was then distributed.
Ms Fisher said that there was a complicated database. General guidelines were issued by June. There were 34 different budget votes in the Estimates of National Expenditure (ENE). MTEC encouraged departments to be innovative. Professional technical teams should examine budget proposals.
She said that the guidelines had been sent to the departments by email, and had also been published on the National Treasury website. A meeting was then called, in which each department was invited to send two or three representatives to the session. These should be budget analysts. Generally the public entities were not invited due to a lack of space at the venue. The departments should engage with those entities that were under their control.
Ms Fisher said that the funding requirements for infrastructure were more complex. Composite budget submissions were submitted by 10 August. Clusters would soon be meeting to determine their priorities. The division of revenue had to be settled by October. The budget speech would be delivered on 27 February 2008. MTEC looked at the division of revenue amongst the three spheres of government.
She said that there were many once-off or finite projects, such as those leading up to the 2010 Football World Cup. Many projects involved construction of infrastructure, but the budget emphasis then had to shift to maintenance of the facilities. Non-recurrent expenditure had to be removed from budgets once the project was completed. The structure of the budget was important. This was all contained in the ENE. Departments were supposed to structure budgets in accordance with their strategic plan.
She said that the Official Development Assistance (ODA) was made up of donor funding. These were used as additional resources for specific programmes. Departments tended to regard these as easy money. Budgets had to be shown in relation to programmes. Allocations had been published for the 2010 World Cup. The MTBPS would show an update on spending. Some departments had signed guarantees with FIFA.
Ms Fisher said that the number of bids for each department were limited. Departments should look at efficient spending of their baseline funds, and would only be allowed to make four new bids. These had to be costed. There were legal and administrative implications and how the money was spent and what value was derived. Deviations could happen, but these should be disclosed. Some departments might need extra information. The MTEF guidelines ran to 29 pages including a section for provinces. There was a challenge to streamline the document.
She then discussed the conditional grant process. Some delinking was needed. This aspect would form part of MTEC’s work this year. Better control was needed. The situation was improving with better communication. The principles of equity, economy, efficiency and effectiveness were employed. A grants committee would be established. The emphasis was on each department to control spending.
Ms Fisher said that the infrastructure budget guidelines showed that a more rigorous approach was needed for capital bids. These bids had been due on 27 July. A detailed project scrutiny note was needed. There were three categories of project. The mega category was for projects with an annual expenditure of R300 million or more; large projects were between R50 million and R300 million, and small projects were less than R50 million. There also had to be a distinction between new and old projects.
Ms Mabe gave the Members the opportunity to ask questions before the presentation continued.
Ms J Fubbs (ANC) said that Members needed to understand the baseline concept. She asked what informed the amounts that were allocated to it. In terms of the review of finite projects, she noted that this was a rare opportunity for an approach to reduce the baseline.
Mr S Dithebe (ANC) understood the concept of ODA. There was talk of Reconstruction and Development Programme (RDP) funds being used. Financing had been offered by the European Union, but some of these offers had been withdrawn due to conditions not being satisfied, and the money had to be returned. He asked if these were the same funds. There were still many unfilled vacancies which were referred to as savings. There should be the same understanding of savings.
Ms N Dumbuza asked if MTEC had observed how some departments had successfully bid for extra funds. The money was allocated to projects, but was not ring fenced for this purpose. The result was that the money was spent on different purposes at the discretion of the department.
Mr E Sogoni (ANC, Gauteng) took note of current expenditure and staffing issues. Part of the personnel budget went towards filling vacancies. Given the vacancies, he wondered how the departments arrived at their budget figures. Departments, especially in the provinces, made bids according to the Division of Revenue Act (DORA). There were conditions on these funds. He asked what was being done to alleviate the conditions. Departments lacked capacity, and the conditions imposed often made matters even more difficult, with the result that departments sometimes decided not to spend rather than comply with the conditions. He also asked from where the contingency fund was drawn.
Ms L Chikunga (ANC) asked at what stage MTEC decided not to re-allocate unspent funds.
Ms Mabe confessed that she was mystified by conditional grants.
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) noted that some conditional grants were made despite the lack of business plans, and asked how this could be allowed.
Ms Fisher replied that the baseline was arrived at by looking at a department, its programmes and structure. There were some ongoing expenses. Producing the ENE was an ongoing act, for example. MTEC would continue applying an inflationary increase. There were once-off events like the G20 meeting. New programmes had to make provision for maintenance and refurbishment costs. It would be ideal if departments could offer reductions, especially in the face of continuing vacancies. There were ways of securing funding. MTEC scrutiny would determine a realistic picture of the situation. The budget grew annually, and under spending spoke for itself.
She said that all donor funds were channelled to the RDP account. The majority of funding to provinces was through the equitable share formula and was unconditional. If provinces wanted to be sure that the correct priorities were addressed, then this would have to be through conditional grants. She agreed that conditions were often too onerous which resulted in money not being spent. If targets were to be met, then this might ensure that money was spent. Conditions were sometimes too stringent, and hence reforms had to be discussed up front.
Ms Fisher said that the contingency reserve was for unforeseen and unavoidable events, such as natural disasters. Money was allocated on the basis of past performances and capacity. Recommendations were made to MTEC, and tradeoffs were made. Many requests had been denied. She was aware of conditional grants being made without a business plan, but this requirement had now been brought in. There had to be a monitoring capacity within a department.
Ms Mabe said that the issue of the contingency fund had been raised in the first quarter report. The Department of Public Enterprises (DPE) had said that a R3 billion allocation would be given to them from the contingency reserve. This was for the entities falling under the DPE.
Ms Fisher was vaguely familiar with this, but felt she should perhaps consult on the matter first. There were some conditions. It was an abnormal situation, and conditions had to be met. Therefore the money had been set aside in the contingency reserve, waiting for the case to be proven. The release of the money was not guaranteed until such time as it was appropriated by Parliament.
Ms Mabe was not satisfied with this explanation and needed more detail.
Ms Mashigo repeated her question about money being granted without a business plan. She referred to the Department of Health (DoH).
Ms Fisher asked if this was for the national DoH. It sounded unlikely, and she would follow up on it.
Ms Mabe felt that this might be provincial departments getting funds from the national department.
Mr Dithebe returned to the contingency reserve. He asked if this was always the top slice of the budget. He felt that it was. He asked what percentage this top slice was. He felt there might be criteria for budget analysis. He asked what if the analyst was being unreasonable. These discussions were not always in the public domain.
Ms Fubbs said that there was a broad category of capital projects, with the mega projects being over R300 million. There was a suggestion of a big transport requirement which did not go through MTEC.
Ms Mabe said that clarity was needed on large and small projects.
Ms Fisher referred to the ENE. From 2003 onward, there had been no contributions to the contingency reserves. It was not really the top slice of the budget. Unreasonable actions were unlikely but not impossible. There were various stages to the budget process and there was external scrutiny. High-level discussion took place at the Ministers’ Committee. There was a lot of oversight. Transport bids were subject to broad criteria. They would fit into the mega project category. There were various options as to how the department would implement. Co-funding with the private sector was an option. The definition of large and small projects was perhaps too scientific. It was based on past bids. The risks associated with maintenance should be considered, and more so for mega projects.
There were no further questions, and Ms Mabe invited the MTEC team to continue with their presentation.
Presentation by National Treasury
Mr Robert Clifton, Resident Budget Advisor to the South African National Treasury from the United States Treasury Department, said that he would give greater detail on some initiatives. He was not really a consultant, but had been seconded to MTEC from the United States Treasury. The Medium Term Expenditure Framework had been published and distributed. Hard copies had been sent to Parliament and to all government entities. Standards were prescribed and minimum levels of regulation. Many institutions were already following rigorous guidelines. It contained the guidelines on what MTEC expected when it examined the performance of a department. It was a key component of the government-wide monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system.
He said that the Presidency would develop the evaluation process. Statistics South Africa had prepared a draft document. There was not a lot of validation. The Auditor General (AG) did not yet monitor performance, but reforms were coming. Performance information was needed on a myriad of systems. It was hard to compare outcomes. There was a different perspective on results. There was a need to standardise, and it was important to measure the value for money achieved. The reporting process was more efficient now, and the true value could be determined. Efficiency was measured across the four Es as listed by Ms Fisher.
Mr Clifton said that service delivery was sometimes obvious. The system could perhaps identify the causes of underperformance. Often strategic plans, budgets and annual reports were not aligned, and there was no linkage. This was critical. Performance could not be planned. Development had to be stable and an improvement was needed in accounting procedures. Departments needed to report on achievements, not just spending. Good performance should be rewarded.
He said that performances systems should not be separate. Finances should be integrated. M&E units sometimes worked in isolation. Some information was critical. “Useful” must not be under-emphasised. There were different roles and responsibilities for the different role players. Reports and published information must be reviewed by an oversight committee, and information must be passed on to the public and stakeholders. Terminology had to be standardised. There were five categories of performance indicators. Results would be adopted based on the management approach of that department. The guidance document looked at previous performance guidelines.
Indicators had been developed for the mid-term review. Impact level indicators were based mainly on the level of impact. The departments might want to develop their own version at provincial level. MTEF guidelines focused on the middle level. Departments should start thinking at programme level. Results needed to be compared to fund allocations. Five departments had been selected for a pilot test. The ability would be upgraded to roll out the programme to the other 29 budget vote entities.
He presented a table in the MTEF guidelines. Departments had to identify applicable actions. The evaluation was qualitative in nature. Feedback on the kinds of output was due on 10 August. MTEC had looked at the submissions. Most were contained in the ENE. The documents were being analysed. Departments were asked to report progress on mega projects in terms of ENE targets. This would make departments think.
Mr Clifton said that the five departments participating in the pilot study were the South African Police Services, Department of Public Works, Department of Public Service Administration (DPSA), Department of Water Affairs and the Department of Corrections. MTEC wanted to see results becoming more quantitative. Departments should review past and current performance as well as a three-year projection.
He presented a hypothetical example to illustrate the process. There was a lot of effort to get information together. It was a learning curve for both sides. There was a detailed structure of definitions. MTEC was working on producing an in-year monitoring report. Section 32 required information at the vote level. This brought on more debate. Cash flow analysis was needed. Departments were receiving information, but this needed to be customised. It was still high level, but departments could be quizzed on spending trends. Longer term outputs had to be identified. He was hopeful that information would be submitted in the next few weeks. The various documents were available on Treasury’s website.
Ms Fubbs said that this had been a very welcome and constructive presentation. It would assist the Committee in its oversight role. Outcomes were indicated in the impact triangle. Departments could achieve numerical figures, but there was a need to measure how the target had been reached. She used the example of agriculture reaching a given production target but destroying farmland in the process. Some clearer understanding was needed.
Mr Dithebe said that the frameworks were predicated on government-wide M&E. The Public Service Commission (PSC) also reported on a wide range of issues. He asked if their reporting was independent to that of the MTEC, and who had the greater burden of reporting.
Mr Sogoni saw this as a move in the right direction. Information needed to be produced. The Committee had tried to get information on the five pilot departments, but there were no guidelines. He asked if the Committee could go to other departments.
Mr Dithebe said that at one stage the Director-General (DG) had said that other DGs were reporting “reporting fatigue”. The PSC had a direct interest in the process, as had the Human Rights Commission. Their interest was particularly in socio-economic rights. Good intentions notwithstanding, there was a risk of negative unintended consequences coming forth.
Mr Clifton replied that there were six criteria for good performance indicators. They had to be appropriate, avoid unintended consequences and prevent action simply to meet a target. They were to tie organisations to individual performance. The DPSA was keen to make linkages when quantified information was in place. There was a perverse incentive if the manner in which the target was achieved was ignored. Working with the five pilot departments was showing an impact aspect. MTEC realised that it was learning lessons. Activities should not be ignored. Results were not all that mattered. MTEC could not micromanage departments.
He said that in policy-oriented departments it was hard to produce quantitative results. The DPSA was an example, which often undertook qualitative tasks. He acknowledged that reporting fatigue could happen. They were asking departments to report on what they were doing. Performance information should be linked to the budget. The results were obvious where this was not done. Standard, reliable information was needed which could be compared over the course of time. Any organisation had data to manage.
Mr Clifton said that MTEC was not really making policy. That was a departmental function. Frequent and regular reports were needed. Some charismatic leaders can manage departments without a strategy, but most not. MTEC was working closely with the Department of Corrections, and they were engaged. MTEC was responsible for implementation. The PSC was an important benefactor. There were various role players, and the PSC was perhaps not as tightly integrated. Other departments could follow the pilot programme, while some were doing so on a voluntary basis.
Ms Fisher added that there was extensive and rigorous consultation in the production of documents.
Ms Fubbs asked about the unintended consequences indicators. Some space should be provided. She wanted to see positive indicators being achieved. In the analogy presented by Mr Clifton, some potential risk factors had been identified. The Committee might be able to add more.
Mr Dithebe said that the MTEC team had been bombarded with questions. They should be commended on the great work they had done. Soon after the World Bank report, a similar initiative had been started in the Office of the Presidency. The integrated economy was being recognised. The Minister of Finance said that there must be transformation. He was pleased to see this kind and quality of work being undertaken. The ten World Bank indicators were being used in the guidelines, and this was pleasing. There remained a challenge with conditional grants and the equitable share formula. These were genuine problems, as were project overruns. He asked what would be done to impact on these problems. He felt positive that the problems could be solved.
Ms Mabe used the example of the provision of housing. There was a tendency to count the subsidies awarded. However what about programmes that were not concluded and health hazards? She asked how these were reflected and monitored.
Mr Clifton replied that bureaucrats loved to fiddle. All had to make sure that information did matter. Targets were to be achieved. It was important to publish information. Management practices were to be improved. The departments should report their results. MTEC was to look at producing reports as indicators, and could report on the key indicators. It was a struggle to achieve the quality of indicators needed. The departments knew their business best. Constraints were that 80% of the time was spent on financial bids. MTEC might need to re-orient its organisation to focus more on non-financial information. Numbers were their core job, but this was not enough. There was a need to step up the game, and there was a need to interrogate rather than merely accept reports. In terms of the housing example, he asked what was really meant by the delivery of a house. A checklist should be used to determine what a good indicator was.
Ms D Robinson (DA, Western Cape) told the Committee of an oversight visit to the Northern Cape. The enormity of the challenge was evident. Educational facilities and clinics had been constructed, but there seemed to be no relationship between these facilities and housing. Planning was in silos.
Mr Sogoni talked about the triangles. Departments could report on their experience. It was proper for departments to report on outcomes and impacts. They should be their own referees and judges. His experience was that reports were glamorous. The Public and Municipal Finance Management Acts had been phased in. All departments should be able to report on their targets by a certain date. He asked if there was a target date.
Mr Clifton responded that one outcome was that the Auditor General was coming on board. The AG was eager to be part of the M&E process and the auditing of performance information. They had started audit systems and a level of alignment had been set. Strategic plans, indicators and annual reports were all part of the integrity of the system. It was a challenge to develop good indicators. They did not only focus on the positives, but as full a picture as possible was needed. Useful indicators would still be developed. It was not a once-off process. Additional indicators would still be possible. A target date had been set on the AG’s schedule. Scrutiny and M&E would increase. MTEC would be working with the five pilot departments during 2007. The number would increase to twelve in 2008, and the rest of the departments would be taken in during 2009. Qualitative information would not be replaced. Instead, information currently in place would be enhanced. The pilot project would give information on the scope of implementation and would make visible the level of engagement necessary.
Mr Mkhaliphi said that oversight responsibility was being taken to another level. Departments were being enforced to deliver on their mandates. More and more interaction would take place. New information would be dovetailed with Parliament.
Committee Report on Fourth Quarter Expenditure
The Committee was asked for suggestions for incorporation in the report.
Some technical amendments were suggested.
Ms Fubbs referred to page 4. There was a reference to capital expenditure, and also to maintenance. It would have been useful to note the capital expenditure, and to create a direct link with allocated maintenance. This must be researched. Examples could have been given. Maintenance was not keeping up with capital expenditure.
Ms Dumbuza asked if there were any concerns for the Joint Budget Committee. The Department of Safety and Security was spending well, but she asked if there was value for money. This would be an important comment. She could not find anything about the taxi recapitalisation programme in the section on the Department of Transport. There was an indication of a high staff turnover. This was too general. She asked which area was most affected and if there were scarce skill vacancies.
Mr Mkhaliphi said that the purpose of this part of the meeting was to check the document for correctness or to raise queries for the Department.
Ms Mabe noted some issues. She would make follow-ups. The Committee would report to Parliament on follow-ups on areas of concern.
Ms Fubbs commented on page 3, the last sentence. She asked what the performance was looking it. On page 5 there was a reference to capital expenditure. All budgets were supposed to promote infrastructure and capacity, leading to increased employment. There was a link between capital expenditure and employment. Certain departments had under spent on capital expenditure. The reader of the report should be alerted to potential risks. She also had an issue with the use of colloquialisms. On page 6, in the section on the Department of Education, there was reference to the popularisation of teachers. She felt that this should be more professionally stated. There was a figure of 95% regarding payments to higher education. Very few people knew that this was directly financed by national government. This was no excuse, but the information should be noted.
Ms Dumbuza asked what the department had spent on skills development.
Mr Dithebe said there was a reference to desired outcomes. The term ‘outcomes’ was a step in the pyramid prior to impact. He thought that in the context, ‘impacts’ might be more appropriate. Consistency was needed.
Ms Fubbs referred to the last paragraph on page 9. She felt that the term ‘appropriate’ should be replaced by ‘allocated’. On page 10 above Section 3, she felt that the word ‘decisions’ should be used rather than ‘options’. Tight, professional language should be used. The Committee had had problems, and the minutes sometimes did not reflect decisions.
Ms Mashigo felt that on page 3 the term ‘desired outcomes’ should be replaced by ‘impacts’ as there would perhaps be a different understanding.
Mr Dithebe remarked on how the framework was put together. MTEC had provided a pyramid model, which had three stages, namely input, outcome and impact. It was more appropriate to communicate logical conclusions of a process. The first paragraph was more spoken than written language.
Mr Mkhaphili felt that the word ‘impact’ was correct. It had a different meaning to ‘outcome’. Impacts were things that changed lives for the better. Outcomes did not necessarily achieve this.
Mr Sogoni said that 'outcomes' was more appropriate. Perhaps if politicians did their oversight work then they would see the impact.
Ms Mabe said that during the discussions they had used both terms ‘output’ and ‘impact’. There were no outcomes in terms of the budget. They were more concerned with impacts. Sometimes there would be an outcome but no impact. Perhaps both teams should be used. Paragraph 3 on page 1 should be reworked. There were big tables at the end of the report. These should perhaps be referenced. On page 6 State Owned Enterprises that were loss making, were noted as becoming parasites. This needed to be included. There was a follow-up on the DPE. This department had already spent 98% of its budget. This had to be included in the report.
She said that in terms of education, universities were autonomous. They received 74% of the budget. She asked what their impact was in developing skills. On page 9, the Department of Sport and Recreation referred to the filling of vacancies. She wondered how this would effect the preparations for the 2010 World Cup. This was of great concern, and must be included. Follow-up on this was needed with the relevant Portfolio Committee. On page 10, at the top, the wording needed to be reworked. Section 3 dealt with the Department of Home Affairs. Close monitoring was needed on the proposed smart card identity document in terms of outcome and impact. This had been on the table for many years.
Ms Dumbuza asked about the transfer of the customs services to the South African Revenue Service (SARS).
Ms Mabe noted that illegal immigrants had and impact on the budget.
Ms Fubbs referred to the section on education. From the learning pyramid she sensed a different nuance in the terms used. Moving along, she suggested using the last paragraph of the education section. There was a mismatch between outcome and impact.
Mr Dithebe was reminded of a workshop he had attended two weeks previously. There had been some reasonably good work done. Higher education institutions were autonomous, and this went with academic freedom. This allowed them the chance to hide away from the need to comply with national imperatives. The growth in the number of graduates since 2002 was flat. He had conferred with the Council for Higher Education and Higher Education South Africa. This was something to think about.
Ms Mabe agreed on some issues. Closer action was needed with the Committees in the different sectors. This Committee could then be sensitised and would be able to make its own findings. References to the ENE should be included in the report. Members would then have to look up these references, and would be encouraged to make use of the document. Specific page references should be given. She then proposed that the Committee should consider recommendations.
Ms Mashigo noted on page 5 that the Department of Safety and Security had generally spent its budget. The first sentence should be rephrased, as should the last sentence on page 9.
Ms Mabe said that would be a technical correction. Some paragraphs would have to be reworked.
Mr Mkhaphili had a suggestion for sister Committees. They should check on where their inputs were needed, and a statement should be made about oversight. This Committee must not be seen to be usurping the role of other Committees.
Mr Khaya Verahim (Committee Researcher) said that he took the matters which had been raised seriously. All the concerns were taken seriously, especially the constraints. He was awaiting responses from the researchers for other Committees. This was a problem.
Ms Mabe noted that what Members said should be included in the report. Other processes were being followed. There was a lack of interaction with other researchers. The issues should be reflected in the report.
Ms Fubbs said that prior to the tabling of recommendations she wanted to raise generic issues. Vacancies were an issue and should be researched.
Ms Mabe said that there must be a section in the report for work in progress. When Parliament judged the report the Members would know what work this Committee was doing.
She recommended that Parliament must impress on the departments the need to respond on time. Reports had to be submitted within the correct time frame. They could not get months of cash flow predictions from MTEC for each department. These should be submitted on a monthly basis. She again mentioned the 98% spending by DPE. Generally they could not escape from the fact that most departments spent lots of money in the final quarter of the financial year while expenditure was low in the first quarter.
Ms Fubbs said the Committee must still work on the recommendations. Some new ones should be put down. They had to be precise with their recommendations. They could list those departments with a high vacancy rate. These departments should review the vacancy situations. Information should be submitted within four to five weeks. They should specify what measures were being taken to fill vacancies, and in what time frame. If decisions were taken to reduce personnel profiles, then a breakdown of the figures was needed. The level at which personnel were being lost should also be specified.
Ms Mabe said that this must be specified in the questions and answers.
Mr Sogoni said that from what the researcher had said there had been no response from the departments. This was in the report. This would be problematic. Departments with persistent vacancies should be invited to Parliament to explain. This should be expedited. A response within four weeks did not end the Committee’s work.
Ms Mabe said that this had come up at the last meeting, but the invitations would not be extended. The matter would be held over for the next quarter. Departments would be formally contacted by letter. Interactions would be based on their responses to these letters. This would give the departments a chance to react.
Mr Dithebe said the purpose of emphasising the response time stemmed from Section 237 of the Constitution, which demanded diligent performance of obligations. This Clause should be invoked to remind them.
The meeting was adjourned.
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