NATIONAL NEWS - The portfolio committee on public service and administration has called on the government to resolve “the budget shortfall on compensation of employees and critical surveys at Stats SA”.
The committee commended Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu for urgently intervening in the financial challenges and looming resignations at the Statistics Council.
The committee said the problems at the Statistics Council are affecting its advisory function for Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and for the Minister.
It explained why the matter was important as the council served as “an important role-player in endorsing statistics released by Statistics South Africa”.
“The minister in the presidency for planning, monitoring and evaluation and the minister of finance should urgently resolve the budget shortfall on compensation of employees and critical surveys at Stats SA so that crucial and quality statistics are generated to the country and the government’s benefit.
“If an ideal resolution cannot be found, the minister is requested to escalate the matter to the presidency,” the committee said in a statement.
Last week Wednesday, the committee deliberated on the matter and resolved to extend an invitation to Tito Mboweni and Mthembu as well as the Statistics Council to discuss the persistent financial crisis at Stats SA.
The committee said the budget was severely cut for the compensation of employees and other crucial projects, which continued to negatively impact on the effective functioning of Stats SA.
“Most employees at Stats SA work either six or seven days a week on double responsibility to ensure that the department functions as normally as possible.
“These budgeting decisions are tantamount to unconstitutionality and might in the long term impact on the Division of Revenue and Inflation targeting,” the committee said.
During a meeting, the committee said they had sought to establish the rationale for the budget cuts at Stats SA, while it consistently receives clean audits and provides the country with timeous, reliable and quality statistics to ensure better planning.
The committee said chairperson Mr Tyotyo James was of the view that government’s cut to budget should solely be based on fairness and rationality.
James said numerous factors such as good governance, national planning, implementing the National Development Plan, and audit outcomes should be considered in the process.
“National Treasury should further brief relevant committees of such intentions to cut departmental budgets prior to Budgetary Review Recommendations process commencement in order to develop [a] common understanding,” James concluded.