Joint Budget Committee Legacy Report on Third Parliament

Budget Committee on Appropriation

07 August 2008
Chairperson: Ms Mabe (ANC) and Mr. Mkhaliphi (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee deliberated on their Legacy Report of the Third Parliament 2004 - 2009 that had been prepared by the Committee Secretary in preparation for handing over to the Fourth Parliament in May 2009.

Meeting report

Ms Mabe stated that the Committee would review their Legacy Report on the Third Term of Parliament in order to present the Report to the new Committee when they take over their oversight responsibilities at the beginning of the Fourth Term of Parliament in May 2009. She appreciated the work of the Committee and wanted its achievements not to be lost but to be built on. She hoped members had gone through the Joint Budget Committee Legacy Report Strategic Plan as agreed the day before and asked them to comment starting with the Table of Content of the Report.

Ms J Fubbs (ANC) spoke about two areas not dealt with in the report. The first was the engagement of the Committee with Parliament when voting and the other was the issue of the Committee’s capacity to amend. She thought these two areas were excluded because of a parallel process with other Committees on introducing a money bill procedure but suggested that if this was not in the legacy document, it will look like the Committee was operating in a silo.

The Chairperson agreed that the issue of capacity to amend should be in the Report.

Ms R Mashigo (ANC) stated that the Table of Content did not reflect the participation of Portfolio Committees.

The Chairperson agreed that it should be included.

Mr Kolweni (ANC) thought that something was missing in Item 4 in the Table of Contents. He indicated that the Division of Revenue Bill in the Table of Contents was not accurate and felt that it should be excluded.

Ms Fubbs disagreed and felt it affected the Committee because it talked about the allocation of revenue and this was exactly what the mandate of the Committee was - such as local governments not being accountable to their structures.

Mr Kolweni referred the Committee to Item 4 of the Report dealing with monitoring and commented that the Committee had nothing to do with that.

Ms Fubbs replied that she disagreed that monitoring was a non-issue and emphasized that it was a critical phase and felt that it should be in the legacy document.

Mr M Swart (DA) stated that the Committee had nothing to do with revenue itself but its division and thought this Item should be kept.

Mr Kolweni said he phrased his comment inaccurately and did not mean the entire Item should be discarded.

The Chairperson closed the issue and indicated that she would remove ‘legislative phase’ in Item 4 and retain ‘appropriation bill’.

The Committee secretary, Mr Perran Hahndiek, stated that while drafting the report, there were aspects of the Committee’s mandate that were not clear. He said the issue of clarity of mandate should come as a separate sub-section in the report.

The Chairperson stated that the issue had not been brought up and will be dealt with later.

The Committee moved on to discuss the Introduction and the Chairperson requested that the members should focus on the content.

Mr G Schneeman (ANC) suggested that this was a discussion and not a finalization of the report and the Committee should treat this meeting simply as the initiation of the process.

The Chairperson stated that the understanding was that the Committee engaged with the document to determine if more information should be added and the intention was not to finalize the report.

Ms Fubbs stated that she felt the word ‘challenges’ should be added after the word ‘progress’ in the introduction.

The Chairperson agreed and also stated that a section on challenges should be included in the Table of Content before the conclusion.

The Committee secretary indicated that every Item in the Report had a challenges segment but the Chairperson asked if Ms Fubbs wanted the section to be entirely separate.

Ms Fubbs commented that she was only referring to the Introduction.

Ms Fubbs also wanted to know in Item 2 in the footnotes if they could re-establish something that had been established and not repealed.

The Chairperson agreed and indicated that it was an issue of terminology.

The Co-Chairperson, Mr Mkhaliphi (ANC), referred to page 4 and stated that the Committee needed to determine if they had been successful in influencing the budget and if so, the influence should be documented and indicated further that the response from the National Treasury had actually been positive.

Ms Fubbs stated that the ‘correlation’ they mean in the Report should be clarified. She stated that when she read the phrase ‘developmental mechanism’, she was not comfortable with it.

Mr Schneeman commented on the terms of influencing the budget and stated that given that the Committee had no expertise, they had done well and that should be included. He stated that they had to be honest in that they had not actually influenced the budget but only the process.

The Chairperson agreed and stated that if the Committee recalled, they had a flat rate committee budget of R200, 000 and despite this, they had managed to perform well.

Ms Fubbs stated that there was an exception though in relation to the maintenance requirement.

Mr Schneeman stated that the point may be correct but what he meant was that in terms of influence, they had not been able to look at the sums and state that there should be an increase in an allocation or not.

The Chairperson stated that the bottom line was that their influence had been limited only to the process.

Mr Swart pointed out that the Committee had influence by purely calling the various departments to come and account on their expenditure.

The Chairperson agreed and recalled that when the Department of Transport was called before them, the department indicated that they had re-adjusted their budget targets after discussion with the Committee.

The Committee secretary indicated that the difference between content and process was that the influence on process was very important because that was how content could be influenced.

The Chairperson commented further that they had exerted a lot of influence on the issue of vacancies in government departments.

Mr Kolweni stated that this was a Report and should indicate what had been done and should not be a political statement. He felt that this was what the Report appeared to be based on what had been discussed so far.

He referred to the
Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on page 3 and stated that little had come out of the Committee’s engagement with the MTBPS and this will not assist the incoming Parliament.

The Chairperson commented that there was no cause for worry because this report was only a first draft and it was up to the members to state what more they wanted in the report. She felt that the discussion would stimulate the minds of the members to recall their past achievements.

Ms Mashigo stated that on the first page of the report looked like a conceptualization of what was done.

The Chairperson stated that what needed to be done was for members to state their complaints such as their inability to go on oversight tours and what must be done to improve on this.

Mr Kolweni stated that what the Chairperson was raising was exactly what the Committee secretary should have done. Focusing on the procedure did not bring the report to the core issue.

Mr Swart stated that the Committee should suggest as a recommendation that a member of the relvant Portfolio Committee should be present when a Government Department was briefing the Budget Committee.

Mr Schneeman agreed that participation of the Portfolio Committees was poor and members of the executive did not take the Committee seriously. However the Committee’s relationship with Treasury had improved over the years.

The Chairperson agreed with the above point and added that the composition of the Committee was not entirely right because NCOP members had to attend NCOP activities and had to be absent from meetings.

Mr Kolweni referred to Item 4 and indicated that little was said about the legislative work of the Committee and again suggested that the division of revenue should be removed. For the Committee to better advice the incoming Committee, the Report should indicate that there had been a problem between the Budget Committee and other sector committees like the Appropriation Committee.

Mr Schneeman suggested the Report should state that Committees should have adequate research capacities to meet their oversight functions.

On Item 5, Mr Kolweni stated that the Committee did well on expenditure trends but one area not reported on was the issue of revenue broadly and they would want the incoming Committee to reflect on this.

Mr Swart referred to the issue of transfer of funds to Provincial and Local Departments and suggested that this should go into their recommendations.

Mr Kolweni referred to Item 6 and suggested that the point made about ‘lack of clarity of mandate’ should be removed as this was contradictory to the Committee’s view of its mandate.

The Committee secretary explained that it was a misunderstanding to state that the Committee was not clear about their mandate, rather it was other government stakeholders that needed clarity about the Committee’s mandate.

Mr Mkhaliphi (ANC) agreed with the sentiments of Mr Kolweni because according to him, they had even submitted a strategic plan on what they wanted to do.

Mr Schneeman and Mr Robinson (DA) thanked the Committee secretary for the work he put into the report.

The meeting was adjourned.


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