Debate on Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, 2012 & First Reading Debate: Adjustments Bill by Mr Elliot Sogoni (ANC)

20 November 2012

Honourable Speaker
Honourable Deputy President
Honourable Members

The ANC`s expenditure trajectory and focus has always remained focussed on eliminating apartheid inequalities. The ANC welcomes the 2012 Adjustments Appropriation Bill (B32-2012) which this year did not necessarily add more money but reallocated "declared savings" to requiring these resources. We are pleased to note that the Bill`s thrust underscores the ANC`s historic view which assets that expenditure should be directed at addressing systematically apartheid legacies of inequality and underdevelopment in all their manifestations. In this regard we are guided by the document, "Ready to Govern" which declares amongst others, that "the ANC will direct government expenditure on housing, infrastructure, education, health and social welfare to ensure equality for all South Africans, especially, rural people."

The ANC continues to drive for an integrated and meaningful implementation of the five government priority programmes over MTEF as demonstrated by the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. Some of these programmes, are, NHI, whose pilot grant has been introduced earlier this financial year in 10 districts, a new approach to Provincial Infrastructure Grant intended to institutionalise proper planning, a new formula for local government equitable share and a new grant for water infrastructure that will ensure that municipalities deliver clean drinking water directly to households. This grant will be administered by Water Affairs and we hope the Department has started building the required capacity in order to deliver on the grant.

Honourable Speaker, the Committee noted the HSRC concern about the infrastructure deficits in our schools however we should take solace that the ANC-led government is aggressively rolling out school infrastructure of over R20bn between Accelerated Schools Infrastructure Delivery Initiative (ASIDI) administered by national department and Education Infrastructure Grant administered by provincial department to be rolled over MTEF.

The challenge Honourable Speaker on these infrastructure programmes remains the capacity of government to plan and deliver effectively, efficiently and on time.

The Committee is of the view that the infrastructure delivery should be a responsibility of a department which has a relevant capacity so that departments like Education Department and Health can focus on their core mandate as the responsibility resides elsewhere.

The ANC welcomes the different programmes promoting education and skills development led by the Department of Higher Education and Training that are implemented across departments whose focus is on job creation for young people however there is room for improvement this area. Already a number of young people have qualified as artisans and the department of Rural Development will train over 5,000 youth on rural development programmes.

Honourable Speaker the ANC welcomes the achievements that have been realised through strategic appropriation over time as demonstrated by shifting resources from consumption to infrastructure investment. As the ANC we are the first ones to admit that we have a long way to go in order to effectively eliminate apartheid legacy of inequality, poverty and unemployment. We are however encouraged by the significant progress that continues to be made in a number of critical areas of livelihood, e.g.,

  • considerable increase in percentage of persons who have completed higher education from 7% in 1996 – 11,8% in 2011;
  • the proportion of households with access to clean running water inside their premises, has also increased from 60,7% in 1996 – 73% in 2011;
  • the average annual income for households having doubled from R48,385 in 1996 to over R103,000 in 2011.

Admittedly, there are confounding nuances in this statistics because of other factors informing these figures.

The 2011 Census also reveals huge inequalities between the historically privileged compatriots and their black counterparts. These differences become evident between the sexes on the one hand and between rural and urban settings on the other hand.

All spheres of government must work together to deal with the delivery challenges as we confront the issues of social challenges and service delivery whether they are in education, healthcare delivery, infrastructure delivery, et cetera. Integral to these challenges are section 100 interventions. Currently this important intervention depends on cooperation of the other sphere, there needs to be a clear legislation that will define amongst others the different roles for all the role-players, framework for interventions, clear set timelines, et cetera. The ANC welcomes the introduction of the central procurement officer that Parliament and National Treasury can tighten the monitoring and oversight mechanism on procurement practices in order to boost efficiencies and value for money. The other important issue, Honourable Speaker, the National Legislature must focus on is the gap between the expenditure and the predetermined objectives. This we can monitor by ensuring that the quarterly or Section 32 Reports of the PFMA consist of nonfinancial information that may include departmental quarterly targets, as they appear in the Annual Performance Plans passed by Parliament during the Appropriations Bill.

There was a lot of discussion in the Committee around the issues of declared savings as some departments felt that they were not properly engaged, but departments did not tell us that they were guilty for underspending as well. In some instances the departments seem to be budgeting for virements. Departments are allowed to shift funds from a non performing area to another but the Committee feels this process, should not undermine the budgetary process, the process must enhance the credibility of the budget.

The ANC notes the Public Service Commission in their endeavours to ensure that their recommendations we implemented, by introducing legislation that will enforce its recommendations whether that action will fall within their jurisdiction will be a point for discussion. The Public Service Commission expressed extreme concern at the failure by the Senior Managers to disclose their business interests. They also found that more managers were doing business with their departments without disclosing their business interests. They also raised with the Committee the failure by Senior Managers to sign performance agreements. This is against the law Honourable Speaker, this is a requirement. Without performance agreement it will be difficult to measure the success or the failure of that official.

The Committee is of the view that the Appropriation for 2013 must have a section that will require all departments undertaking infrastructure must submit clear plans to National Treasury by the end of the third quarter.

May I take this opportunity to thank the cooperation that we have received from National Treasury during this processing of the MTBPS and the Adjustment Bill, and thank the Honourable Members of the Committee and the staff for their sacrifice so that the report can be processed on time.

I thank you