ATC210513: Report of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration on the Strategic Plan 2019/20—2023/24, Annual Performance Plan (App) 2021/22 and the Budget Vote 14 of Statistics South Africa, Date 13 May 2021

Public Service and Administration, Performance Monitoring and Evaluation

REPORT OF THE PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE ON PUBLIC SERVICE AND ADMINISTRATION ON THE STRATEGIC PLAN 2019/20—2023/24, ANNUAL PERFORMANCE PLAN (APP) 2021/22 AND THE BUDGET VOTE 14 OF STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA, DATE 13 MAY 2021

 

  1. BACKGROUND

The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration (hereinafter referred to as the Portfolio Committee) having considered the directive of the National Assembly to consider and report on the Strategic Plan, Annual Performance Plan and Budget allocations of the Statistics South Africa tabled by the Minister in the Presidencyfor Planning Monitoring and Evaluation in terms of the Public Finance Management Act (Act No 32 of 2003), reports as follows:

  1. INTRODUCTION

Parliament plays an important role in overseeing planning and performance of government departments and public entities as well as Chapter 9 and 10 institutions. The Public Finance Management Act, section 27 stipulates that the Minister must table the annual budget for a financial year in the National Assembly before the start of the financial year. Subsequent to that the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, No 9 of 2009, section 10 (1) (c) clearly stipulates that the relevant members of Cabinet must table updated strategic plan and annual performance plan for each department, public entity or institution, which must be referred to the relevant Committee for consideration and reporting.

In considering the strategic and annual performance plan, the Committee ensured that Statistics South Africa plans and budget allocation serve the needs and aspirations of the statistics users. Budget allocation serves as a key instrument for government to promote socio-economic development. Budget allocation plays a critical role as an economic instrument of the government to reflect on the country’s socio-economic policy priorities by translating priorities and political commitments into expenditures. Budget serves as a vital tool to operationalise government activities towards the achievement of its intended priorities. Furthermore, the budget highlights the constraints and trade-offs in policy choices.

On 05th May 2021, the Committee considered presentation on the Strategic and Annual Performance Plans and budget allocation of Statistics South Africa (Stats SA). This report summarises the presentation received from the Stats SA, focusing on the 2021/22 Annual Performance Plan and Budget, as well as allocations over the MTEF.

  1. OVERVIEW OF STATISTICS SOUTH AFRICA

The main responsibility of Stats SA is to provide relevant and accurate statistics by using internationally approved practice to inform users of the dynamics of the economy and society. Stats SA is mandated through the Statistics Act [No.6 of 1999] to coordinate statistical production from organs of state, the private sector and other institutions to facilitate proper planning, decision making and monitoring and evaluation of policies and projects. Stats SA is guided by the 10 fundamental principles of official statistics of the United Nations, as well as the 6 principles adopted by the African Union in carrying out its function.

Statistics South Africa releases over 250 surveys on a yearly basis on employment, labour, poverty and other socio-economic statistics. Such statistics are aimed at providing evidence-based information to policymakers, private sector, academics and non-governmental organisations as well as planners across all spheres of government. Stats SA is committed to using scarce resources to deliver quality basic statistics as it invests in and strengthens partnership with various stakeholders within the data ecosystem. In the sixth administration of Government, Stats SA will be fully engaged with the following crucial statistical work:

  • Finalisation of legislative reforms.
  • Release of the results of the National Household Travel Survey.
  • Release of the Census of Commercial Agriculture.
  • Preparations for Census 2021/2022 (conducting the pilot census) – as baseline information the country needs and the master sample that Stats SA needs to advise other research entities in South Africa; and
  • The Income and Expenditure Household Survey to be conducted in 2020/21. This is a critical survey to measure and understand poverty and inequality in South Africa.
  1. NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN VISION 2030

The National Development Plan highlights the need for South Africa to build a State that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role. This requires the State to formulate and implement policies that support that role. The NDP and the Medium Term Strategic Framework are informed by statistical information provided by Statistics South Africa, which publishes more than 250 statistical releases per annum. The publications present statistical research that measures the development and transformation of the economy and society in a range of contexts.

Changing economic and societal realities have expanded the demand for statistical information: more detailed statistics are needed and more frequently if policies are to be responsive and effective. Statistics in the public domain must be of high quality. Responding to the increased demand for high quality statistics will require a national effort, and collaboration and partnerships between the producers and the users of statistics.

 

  1. LEGISLATIVE MANDATE

Statistics South Africa is a national government department accountable to the Minister in the Presidency for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. Stats SA has a separate budget vote from the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation(DPME). The activities of the department are regulated by the Statistics Act (Act No.6 of 1999), which ensures independence from political interference in the production and dissemination of official statistics. According to the Statistics Act, the purpose of official statistics is to assist organs of state, businesses, other organisations and the public in planning, decision-making, and monitoring or assessment of policies.

The Act makes provision for the appointment of a Statistician-General (SG) whose role in statistical production in the country is as follows:Firstly, as the National Statistical Authority to inform stakeholders on the economy and society by:

  • Collecting, compiling and disseminating a wide range of economic, social and population statistics.
  • Developing and maintaining database for national statistics on businesses and enumeration areas; and
  • Liaising with other countries and statistical agencies as well as representing Stats SA and South Africa in statistical activities internationally.

Secondly, as the National Statistical Coordinator, to promote coordination among producers of official and other statistics in order to advance quality, comparability and optimum use of official statistics and to avoid duplication by:

  • Formulating quality criteria and establishing standards, classifications and procedures.
  • Providing statistical advice; and
  • Promoting a public culture of measurement.

 

  1. Strategic goals ofStatistics South Africa

In order to be responsive to the attainment of the NDP priorities over the period 2020/21-2024/25, an NDP Five-year Implementation Plan and a more focused Medium Term Strategic Framework (MTSF) 2019/24 have been developed by the Presidency as announced by the President in the State of Nation Address,to outline the following strategic goals:

  • Economic transformation and job creation.
  • Education, skills and health.
  • Consolidating social wage through reliable and quality basic services.
  • Spatial integration, human settlements and local government.
  • Social cohesion and safe communities.
  • A capable, ethical and developmental state.
  • A better Africa and a better world.

Key priorities for the 2021/22 financial year are outlined below:

  • Driving legislative reform.
  • Sustaining the quality of national indicators.
  • Conducting Census 2021.
  • Driving a transformative and change agenda

 

  1. BUDGET ALLOCATION

The Statistics South Africa overall budget allocation in 2021/22 financial year is R4 475.5 billion, which is an increase as compared to R3 131.6 billion in the 2020/21 financial year. This represents an increase of 42.88 per cent in nominal terms. However, in real terms the total budget for Stats SA increased by only 37.12 per cent between 2020/21 and 2021/22 financial years. The main focus of the Statistics South Africa over the medium term will be to modernise its operating model, strengthening statistical reforms and conducting the 2021 national population census. In order to improve the quality of statistics and turnaround times for releasing stats, R151.4 million is budgeted over the medium term period to modernise and automate statistical value chain through computer-assisted programme. With regard to strengthening statistical reforms and coordination, Stats SA has budgeted R126.6 million allocated in the South Africa National Statistics System programme. Stats SA has set aside budget of R2.1 billion in the 2021/22 financial year allocated in the Household Survey and Censuses sub-programme in the Statistical Operations and Provincial Coordination programme. 

Over the medium term, the organisation will focus on modernising its operating model, strengthening statistical reform and conducting the 2021 national production census. In order to improve the quality of statistics and turnaround times for releasing them, and to reduce costs, the department has embarked on a process to modernise and automate the statistical value chain through computer-assisted personal, telephonic and web interviewing technologies. The Business Modernisation sub-programme in the Statistical Support and Informatics programme is responsible for developing these systems to be implemented across all programmes. This investment is budgeted for within the sub-programme’s allocation of R151.4 million over the medium term. 

In its efforts to drive statistical reform, the department has drafted a Statistics Amendment Bill, which is set to be rolled out over the MTEF period to improve coordination among producers of statistics. For statistical coordination and legislative reform, R126.6 million over the medium term is allocated to the South African National Statistics System programme, with 73.9 per cent (R93.1 million) of this amount earmarked for spending on compensation of employees. This expenditure is also expected to assist in developing statistics strategy to enhance coordination and the provision of statistics support.

The planned population Census 2021 will provide an important baseline for districts to measure development. Data collection and household visits for Census are scheduled to take place in 2021/22 and the results are set to be released in 2022/23. Over R2.1 billion is budgeted for activities related to the Census in the Household Survey and Censuses sub-programme in the Statistical Operations and Provincial Coordination programme.

The expenditure is projected to increase from R1.5 billion in 2019/20 to R1.8 billion in 2022/23 at an average annual rate of 7.2 per cent, as a result of an additional allocation of R105 million and a reprioritisation of R49.4 million to address the historic shortfall in the budget for compensation of employees. Stats SA has 2 731 filled posts against posts, representing a vacancy rate of 17.6% as the end of December 2020, which continue to increase due to declining financial resources in the budget allocation of the compensation of employees. A comprehensive reprioritisation process was conducted during 2020/21, which highlighted the need to fill 135 critical posts. The staff complement of Stats SA continues to decrease over the medium term period due to high staff turnover as a result of lack of upward mobility the department endured over the past years.   

Table 1: Budget per programme

Programme

Budget

Nominal Rand change

Real Rand change

Nominal % change

Real % change

R million

2020/21

2021/22

2022/23

2023/24

 2020/21-2021/22

 2020/21-2021/22

Programme 1: Administration

  700.1

  659.8

  706.9

  723.8

-  40.3

-  66.9

-5.76 per cent

-9.56 per cent

Programme 2: Economic Statistics

  264.9

  266.4

  270.0

  270.2

  1.5

-  9.2

0.57 per cent

-3.49 per cent

Programme 3: Population and Social Statistics

  117.3

  148.5

  200.1

  203.4

  31.2

  25.2

26.60 per cent

21.50 per cent

Programme 4: Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure

  136.3

  153.4

  156.4

  156.5

  17.1

  10.9

12.55 per cent

8.01 per cent

Programme 5: Statistical Support and Informatics

  299.2

  272.8

  286.5

  287.7

-  26.4

-  37.4

-8.82 per cent

-12.50 per cent

Programme 6: Statistical Operations and Provincial Coordination

 1 584.6

 2 932.4

  846.7

  849.3

 1 347.8

 1 229.6

85.06 per cent

77.60 per cent

Programme 7: South African National Statistics System

  29.2

  41.2

  42.7

  42.7

  12.0

  10.3

41.10 per cent

35.41 per cent

TOTAL

 3 131.6

 4 474.5

 2 509.3

 2 533.6

 1 342.9

 1 162.5

42.88 per cent

37.12 per cent

 

 

Source; Estimates of National Expenditure 2021

 

  1. PROGRAMME PERFORMANCE

Statistics South Africa has seven programmes, which are as follows:

7.1 Programme 1: Administration

The purpose of the programme is to provide strategic leadership, management and services to the department. The Administration programme has four sub-programmes, which are: Department Management, Corporate Services, Financial Management Services, Internal Audit and Office Accommodation. The strategic intention of the programme is focused on driving the outcome of transformed capability. The programme will align itself to the strategy of digitisation through automation of processes. The provision of support to projects, including the Census 2021 project, will utilise all facets of automated processes. A cost-effective strategy to reduce the major cost driver in surveys, which, apart from the compensation of employees is the utilisation of vehicles, will be explored.      

Stats SA will transform and change agenda to facilitate and drive the culture and organisational change required to implement the new strategic direction. The implementation of the revised structure and relocation of staff to critical areas will be rolled out in 2020/21. An alternative funding model will be explored through research.

The programme received a budget allocation of R659.8 million as compared to R700.1 million in the 2020/21 financial year to provide strategic direction, leadership, management and support services to the department. The spending focus over the medium term continues to lead development of a digital transformation strategy and a skills development strategy as key enablers for the future. The provision of support to projects, including the Census 2021 project, will be utilising all facets of automated processes.

The primary cost driver is compensation of employees. Within the remaining goods and services budget, the primary cost drivers relate to fleet management services, travel and subsistence, and communication. Office accommodation is funded from programme 1.   

7.2 Programme 2: Economic Statistics

Economics Statistics programme aims to produce economic statistics to inform evidence-based economic development and transformation in line with internationally recognised practices. Programme Management for Economic Statistics provides strategic direction and leadership. There are six sub-programmes, which are as follows: Business Cycle Indicators, Structural Industry Statistics, Price Statistics, Private Sector Financial Statistics, Government Financial Statistics and National Accounts.

The objectives of the programme is to produce economic indicators to inform evidence-based planning, monitoring, evaluation and decision making for use by the public and private sectors by publishing monthly, quarterly, annual and periodic statistical releases on various industries in the private and public sectors.

Programme 2 received an allocated budget of R266.4 million for 2021/22 financial year as compared to R264.9 million in the 2020/21 financial year.  The main cost driver is the expenditure on compensation of employees and collection of questionnaires. The strategic intention of the programme is focused mainly on driving the outcome of providing insightful data and continue to provide a range of statistics that describe the dynamics of the economy as well as its links to job creation, economic growth, the environment and society. A critical strategic intent is to increase the supply of economic statistics through the development of new surveys, funded through efficiency gains within the current resource constraints. These will primarily be focused on developing a better understanding of the services sector of the economy.

Stats SA will over the medium term publish 150 monthly, quarterly and annual industry and trade statistics. Under Programme 2, these reports will be published over the medium term: three reports on weights for mining (2020); manufacturing, four reports on 2018 trade industry, 2018 personal services survey, one annual commercial agriculture, fisheries and forestry statistics. Furthermore, Stats SA will publish 12 monthly Consumer Price Index (CPI) releases, 12 monthly PPI releases, 12 monthly CMPI releases, 12 monthly XMUVI releases, and one CPI updated with updated weights. 

Stats SA will further publish five quarterly releases on the private sector financial statistics, one capital expenditure survey discussion document, seven quarterly and annual government financial statistics on government and five quarterly releases on financial statistics of municipalities. In addition to the strategic outcome of insightful data, Stats SA intends to publish four Gross Domestic Product releases, one research report on reviewing and improving data sources, one report on tourism satellite accounts and EEA statistics.

 

  1. Programme 3: Population and Social Statistics

The purpose of the Programme is to produce population, demographic, labour market and social statistics to inform socio-economic development. Population and social statistics inform evidence based socio-economic development and transformation in line with internationally recognised practices. Programme 3 contributes to strategic objective to sustain national population and social indicators to inform evidence-based planning, monitoring and decision-making for use by the public and private sector through publishing numerous series such as labour market and employment surveys.

The outputs produced under this Programme contribute immensely towards the monitoring of the MTSF 2020-2024, the National Development Plan goals and indicators, Agenda 2063 as well as the Sustainable Development Goals.

Programme 3 received a budget allocation of R148.5 million in the 2021/22 financial year as compared to R117.3 million in 2020/21 financial year. The programme will be closely involved with mapping the To-Be process of CAPI. The expenditure on the budget will be incurred by continuing to sustain the quality of key national indicators and to increase responsiveness to users’ basic statistical needs and demands by collecting and analysing data across a range of themes including living conditions, domestic tourism, transport, education, gender and marginalised groups, governance, crime and safety, etc. In addition, the 2021 Population and Housing Census in the form of the design of the questionnaire, edit specifications, evaluation of data and product development contribute greatly towards the execution of the 2021 Census, which will form the basis of many planning activities. 

The strategic intent of this programme is to integrate survey through the Continuous Population Survey. Stats SA is currently collecting statistical information on living conditions, service delivery and poverty through the General Households Survey (GHS), Income and Expenditure Survey (IES) and Community Survey (CS). Stats SA is embarking on a process of reviewing the content of the questionnaire of these abovementioned survey methodologies. One of the outcomes of this process is the introduction of a modular approach, where a rotational system of in-depth service delivery modules will be developed and implemented at regular intervals as part of continuous population survey for household surveys. Continuous collection is expected to better capture seasonality in the data and to provide more opportunities for quality assurance.

The CPS will be implemented over the medium term, that is, towards the end of the five-year period, depending on the additional allocation of funding. This survey will create a more agile and cost-effective operating model for survey data collection, as it would provide a broad platform to cover a range of thematic areas on a regular basis.

Stats SA intends to embark on extensive skilling and reskilling in data analytics and related capabilities in order to meet the requirement of the new data ecosystem. This target aims to invest in building a diverse skilled and versatile workforce to embrace innovative solutions such as data collection through digitisation. This will create a cadre of analytical capability to drive value in the data ecosystem.  

 

 

  1. Programme 4: Methodology and Statistical Infrastructure

The purpose of the Programme is to set standards, statistical frames, methodologies and conduct statistical research. The main objective of the Programme is to improve the quality and methodological soundness of statistical information by researching, developing, reviewing and applying statistical methods, standards, classification and procedures in the statistical value chain annually. The Programme further monitors and evaluates the methodological compliance of statistical operations by conducting independent evaluations on statistical practices annually. In addition, it ensures complete and accurate sampling frames to enhance the quality of economic and social statistics by maintaining and updating frames for business and geographic information annually.

 

Programme 4 received budget allocation of R153.4 million in 2021/22 financial year as compared to R136.3 in 2020/21 financial year. The cost driver under this programme is on the compensation of employees, data costs and training costs.  The programme contributes towards achieving the organisational strategic outcomes of an agile operating model and interconnected statistical systems. Statistical data are enablers of achieving uniformity, consistency, comparability, integration and ultimately data sharing and thus increased use of statistical products. Standards are a precondition for production of good quality statistics. The programme has to ensure availability and use of relevant statistical standards and classifications for Stats SA and SANSS programme.

The programme provides technical expertise on methodologies for producing official and other statistics and review surveys as to their methodological compliance and alignment with international frameworks and practices to render quality statistics able to inform debate, research and decision-making. For Stats SA to sustain the quality of key indicators and to curb the challenges of declining quality of data there is a need to reposition and strengthen monitoring and evaluation within the statistical system. This will only be achieved through development of a quality management system that will have to be tested, integrated, interfaced and institutionalised across the departmental.

The transition of statistical production processes from manual systems to digital platforms requires the programme to upskill and re-skill its personnel to ensure that they provide the relevant and necessary support to production systems. The emergence of COVID-19 and its subsequent impact on the production of statistics places further importance of this aspect of the work as well as more emphasis and dependence on methodological support to production areas and members of the SANSS.     

 

7.5Programme 5: Statistical Support and Informatics

This Programme enables service delivery programmes by using technology in the production and use of official statistics. The main objective is to modernise business processes by building enterprise architecture and applying emerging technologies for data collection, processing and the dissemination of statistical information over the medium term. The Programme further aims to enable the department’s production of official statistics by providing a technology infrastructure that is reliable, sustainable and cost effective over the medium termto inform policy through the use of statistical geography.

The Programme promotes and provides better access to official statistics. The Programme contributes to enhancing public confidence and trust in statistics and investing in the learning and growth of the organisation. Moreover, the Programme collaborates with partners to build and maintain a reliable sampling frame for household surveys by updating the spatial information frame annually. In addition, it increases awareness of and the use of official statistics by government and the public on an ongoing basis by reaching out to stakeholders and responding to user queries, educating users and improving accessibility to and the ease of use of statistical information.

Statistical Support and Informatics programme received an allocation of R272.8 million to enable service delivery programmes by using technology in the production and use of official statistics. Key outputs to achieve this goal include the implementation of the branding strategy which aims to place stakeholders at the centre of operations by delivering products and services that are in line with user requirements. The programme provides the technology backbone in the form of an Enterprise Architecture (EA) that is able to anticipate growing demand and will have the foresight to increase capacity when required and to scale down to save costs based on system requirements. A well-designed Enterprise Architecture (EA) provides an organisation with an environment that allows easy and faster adoption of newer technologies while supporting smooth organisational transformation. An EA will be rolled out over the medium-term and will make provision for an interconnected statistical system within the data ecosystem.     

 

7.6 Programme 6: Statistical Operations and Provincial Coordination

The purpose of the Programme is to collect and process data and interact with stakeholders and users at provincial and local levels to inform policy implementation and support decision-making through statistical information. It engages stakeholders through platforms and provides effective communication services.

The main objective is to provide integrated data collection services, and disseminate quality statistics to provincial and local stakeholders and the public by ensuring an average response rate of 85 per cent annually. Another objective is to expand the statistical information base for use by government, the private sector and the public by conducting a population census every 10 years, and large-scale population surveys every five years between censuses.It further ensures the efficiency and effectiveness of survey operations by coordinating household surveys to attain an average response rate of 85 per cent annually. The Programmeimproves the quality and timeliness of the editing and processing of statistical data by administering a common data processing platform for censuses, household surveys, administrative records and ad hoc survey data over the medium term.

Statistical Operation and Provincial Coordination programme received an allocation of R2 932.4 billion to execute its core mandate of collecting and processes data, and interacts with stakeholders and user at provincial and local levels. Provincial and District Offices provide integrated data collection and dissemination services and promotes the use and coordination of official statistics to provincial and local stakeholders at a cost of R659.3 million.

Stats SA is preparing for the fourth South African population census to be conducted in February 2022. The outbreak of the Coronavirus compelled the organisation to assess and test the use of a multi-modal approach (i.e. use of Computer Assisted Web Interviews, Computer Assisted Telephone Interviews (CATI) and Computer Assisted Personal Interviews (CAPI)) for data collection to minimise contact between fieldworkers and respondents. As a test, the Census 2021 Trial, was conducted in August and September of 2020 to test both the CAWI and CATI modes of collection. Lessons learnt indicate that all three modes are important for a successful Census 2021 pilot, planned for July 2021, is mainly aimed at testing all modes of collection (CAWI, CATI and CAPI) in an integrated manner, incorporating lessons learnt. The pilot is scheduled for July 2021 with the main census scheduled for February 2022.

 

7.7 Programme 7: South African National Statistics System

The purpose of the Programme is to develop and coordinate the national system in South Africa. The objective of the Programme is to ensure that national statistics are produced based on common statistical standards and principles by providing statistical support and advice on an ongoing basis, and certifying statistics as official annually. It manages the distribution of statistical information by establishing and providing mechanisms, platforms and criteria for sharing data annually. It drives statistical reporting by coordinating the compilation of statistical reports in line with the integrated indicator framework annually.

South African National Statistics System programme received a budget allocation of R41.2 million to develop and coordinates the national system in South Africa. The statistics system is composed of entities of the National Statistics System (NSS), which must subscribe to governance and ethical principles for all producers of statistics.  Additionally, insofar as production activities are concerned, all entities of the NSS subscribe to standards and frameworks as directed by the Statistician-General under the mandate of the Statistics Act.

The programme will fully develop an Integrated Indicator Framework (IIF). The IIF is a tool to promote coordination among producers of official and other statistics in order to advance quality, comparability and optimum use of official statistics. It is also a key contributor to the achievement of the interconnected statistics system. Once fully developed, the IIF will be able to ascertain what the information gap is in the statistics system.

The development and implementation of the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS) will build capacity and strengthen coordination amongst entities of the NSS. Through the NSDS, NSS entities will be able to set up statistical units and compile annual statistical plans informed by the IIF. All data that will be used to report on the IIF will be taken through a quality assessment process using the South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework (SASQAF).  Through the NSDS, the technical support that will be given to entities of the NSS and the implementation of the IIF, the coordination part of the Statistics Act will be fully realised.   

 

 

 

  1. OBSERVATION AND KEY FINDINGS

The Portfolio Committee observed the following matters in relation to the Budget Vote 14 of Statistics South Africa:

  1. The Committee notes and considered Statistics South AfricaAnnual Performance Plan for 2021/22financial year. The Committee welcomed the tabled Annual Performance Plan as itencompasses the mandate of Stats SA with clear targets and indicators. However, the historical budget shortfall or resource constraints negatively impact on the department attaining its objectives. 

 

  1. Stats SA has embarked on a research to assess different funding models for the department due to continuing resource constraints experienced.  The Statistician-General cautioned the Committee about any different funding model such as donors who might drive a particular agenda for Stats SA to pursue. Therefore, Stats SA has no option,but to solely rely on the funding from the National Treasury.

 

  1. The Committee noted that Stats SA’splanned Census 2021 has been postponed to February 2022. The Committee welcomed such postponement as this important population project clashes with the month of the local government elections. 

 

  1. Stats SA has, over the past years, prepared itself prior to the advent of COVID-19 pandemic to move away from face-to-face data collection. The Committee noted that Stats SA is in a process of preparing for the first-ever digital census, where data will be collected via electronic devices rather than paper questionnaires. Stats SA will move into online, telephonic and other distance forms of data collection in generating statistics for the country. The Committee will support all efforts during census project and ensure that all South Africans participate in this crucial project.

 

  1. The Committee learned that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the business operation model of Stats SA. Stats SA has been forced to be innovative and to optimise its scarce resources to align its business process towards digitisation. However, the Committee was of the view that digitisation of the business process should be confined to the statistical norms and standards, without compromising the reliability and quality statistics produced over the past years.

 

  1. The Committee was encouraged thatStats SA was rigorously skilling and reskilling the enumerators since new technologies such as web-based surveys (CAWI) or even telephonic interviews will be used in conducting census and other statistical series. The exponential growth of the digital world has impacted on how organisations carry out their business. The Committee was of the view that sufficient budget be set aside for training and reskilling employees on digital programmes.

 

  1. The Committee pledged its support to Stats SA plans of embarkingon the Census 2021 pilot planned from July 2021 as this process will be critical in advising the Department on the scale of the challenge and when the Census should occur so that it does not pose risks to anyone, including fieldworkers and respondents.

 

  1. The Committee noted that part of the priorities in the implementation of organisational structure is to fill funded vacant positions and ensure attainment of employment equity targets by employing 50% of women in senior management and 2% of People with Disabilities. As much as Stats SA embraces internal promotions, this will always put the Department above acceptable level of 10% on the vacancy rate. Stats SA continued to fill critical post with the additional amount of R49.4 million received in the 2020/21 financial year for compensation of employees. 

 

 

  1. The Committee welcomedthe fact that the budget earmarked for census 2021 has been ring-fenced. 

 

  1. The Committee notedthe new approach, namely “the Continuous Population Surveys (CPS)” aimed at integrating current survey instruments, which are the General Household Survey (GHS), Income and Expenditure Survey(IES) and Living Conditions, Life Circumstances and Poverty Data.

 

  1. In terms of the legislative reforms, the Committee notes the progress made thus far with regard to the amendment to the Statistics Act of 1999 that intends to drive statistical reform in the country, with a particular emphasis on statistical coordination, statistical geography, the data revolution, a state-wide statistical service and institutional arrangements. The amendments will ensure coordination between organs of state toenhance efficiency in the statistical system.Stats SA has finalised the amendments to the Act, however, delays encountered were due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Stats SA anticipates tabling the amendment to Parliament in the 2021/22 financial year.

 

  1. The Committee noted the involvement of Stats SA in the District Development Model for capacitating municipalities to interpret and use statistics as an instrument for planning, evidence-based policy-making and allocation of resources. Stats SA will make available statistics per district and assist municipalities in interpreting data.

 

  1. RECOMMENDATIONS

The Portfolio Committee recommends that Statistics South Africa, through the Minister in the Presidencyfor Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation,give attention to the following activities:

  1. Statistics South Africa expeditiously finalise and tableamendment ofthe Statistics Act (1999) to drive statistical reform in the country timeously to Parliament. The amendments of the Act should firmly respond to the evolving environment, with particular emphasis on statistical coordination, the data revolution, a state-wide statistical service and institutional arrangements.

 

  1. Stats SA should continue to capacitate, enhance and enrich municipalities with statistical knowledge through its participation in the District Development Model for the purpose of enabling local government to fulfil its constitutional mandate as per Section 152 of the Constitution.

 

  1. Stats SA should move with speed in its processes of skilling and reskilling of employees on numerous aspects such as digitisation for the purpose of readying itself for electronic datacollection for the census and other series in future.

 

  1. Stats SA should provide the Committee with the plan for Censuspilotin order to conduct oversight visit to assess its readiness to conduct Census by February 2022, pending any regulations that might be imposed concerning COVID-19 pandemic. Stats SA should ensure adherence to COVID-19 health and safety protocols.

 

  1. Stats SA should during census ensure the process of data collection is as inclusive as possible particularly with regard to the connectivity in the remote rural areas. ICT should not be a hindrance for collecting data since while a web-based surveys (CAWI) or even telephonic interviews (CATI) will be used throughout the census. 

 

  1. Stats SA together with the National Treasury should ensure, as promised, that budget for Census 2021 remains ring-fenced during this difficult period of budgetary constraints caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

 

  1. Stats SA should commence with census adverts as early as possible to conscientise citizens about the upcoming census, especially with this transition happening around digitisation of data collection.

 

  1. Stats SA should save on running cost, as data collection during Census 2021 will be collected through Computer Assisted Personal Interview, which might reduce cost of data capturing, as it used to happen through manual data collection.

 

  1. Stats SA should continue engaging the National Treasury about budget shortfall experienced in the department whilst the Committee will seek to secure a joint meeting with the Appropriation Committee to address the matter.

 

 

  1. CONCLUSION

Statistics are vital source of evidence as it provides objective and numerical data on important aspects of the country, including economic growth, job creation, characteristics of population, social living conditions, health, education and crime, etc. Therefore, Statistics South Africacontinues to play a significant role in producing credible statistics to inform evidence-based planning, monitoring, evaluation and decision-making and helping academics and private and public sector towardsaccessing reliable statistics. Moreover, Stats SA remains a key strategic player in the transformative agenda by producing evidence-based, quality and accurate official statistics for the country. Collection of statistics remainsa top priority in ensuring informed current and future planning for the country.

Statistical information playsa critical role in the value chain and should enhance planning and evidence-based policy making across a wide range of sectors. Statistics South Africa should not be put atriskdue to budget constraints. A well-resourced Statistics South Africa willserve well the needs of the country.

 

The Portfolio Committee recommends as follows:

That the House approves the Budget Vote 14 of the Statistics South Africa.

 

Report to be considered.

 

Documents

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