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Speech by the Honourable House Chairperson C.T. Frolick, MP on the occasion of the debate on Budget Vote 2 Parliament

12 May 2016

National Assembly, Parliament
Honourable Speaker
Members of the Executive,
Members of Parliament,
Ladies and Gentlemen.

My input in this debate will focus on the following Strategic Priorities of the 5th Parliament these are:

1. To strengthen oversight and accountability;
2. Enhanced public involvement and participation; and more broadly on
3. ICT developments in Parliament.

PUBLIC PARTICIPATION MODEL

Last year in this debate I informed the House on the progress and consultation processes that we were to embark upon to develop the PPM of Parliament.

The Political Task Team that was overseeing the development of the Model completed the work and adopted its report. The report will now be presented to the Joint Rules Committee for ratification. Working 3 together Committees in the NA and NCOP we will commence with the phased implementation of the PPM when we conduct oversight over Money Bills during the BRRR process later this year.

INFORMATION COMMUNICATIONS AND TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

Parliaments, by virtue of its constitutional mandate and functions are information-driven institutions, where most processes are embedded in the demand for, and the use of, quality information.

The aim of the ICT strategy is to enable the vision of an activist and responsive Parliament that is connected to its citizens, accessible to all and works in a productive and smart manner. The utilization of the different ICT platforms is crucial to support the implementation of the PPM.

In a globally, connected world, the proliferation of information driven by technological advancements, is fundamentally changing the manner in which parliaments operate. More importantly, it has changed the way parliaments communicate and connect with their citizens.

To modernize Parliamentary processes the following solution will be implemented:

As part of enabling the public participation model, the strategy is to move the current technology platform onto a more interactive platform. This will enable more open consultation and feedback to interested parties as well as enable the public right of petitions and grievance procedures.

To increase openness and transparency, mechanisms are available for the public continue to follow the proceedings of both Houses and Committees via the Parliamentary website, video streaming, and social media platforms.

For increased oversight and accountability over the Executive, the monitoring and tracking system for House resolutions and questions will enable us to ensure that oversight activities are effectively co-ordinated, monitored, tracked and timeously executed.

PARLIAMENTARY COMMITTEES

Committee Programme Alignment All committee APPs and Programmes show drastic positive improvement where all plans were aligned to Parliament`s strategy.

It is our intention to further improve quality by improving coordination with the Executive to ensure that all oversight related reports are submitted in time and with content that is relevant and important for oversight. Focus of oversight in committees continues to hone in on the implementation of the objectives of the National Development Plan by the Executive.

Chapter 9 Institutions

Committees are supported by the Chapter 9 institutions; however we must ensure that the work of all the institutions supporting democracy (Parliament) are recognised and not confined to one entity. Committees continuously engage with the Human Rights Commission, IEC, Commission for Gender Equality, Auditor-General, Public Protector, and the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities. The regular reports and briefings by Office of the Auditor-General to SCOPA and other committees provides the backbone of financial oversight.

However, a lot more needs to be done to implement these reports and to hold those responsible for the reckless spending of public finances accountable.

Committee Financial Resourcing

Under trying economic times we are pleased that the allocation to committees of Parliament has not been drastically reduced. This however still remains insufficient to accommodate all the committee business that may be required by all our Chairpersons and committees.

Efficiency Measures

We have also implemented efficiency measures as undertaken in the 2015/16 plan, including in the areas of catering; advertisements; flights and ground transport during oversight visits.

We intend to continue implementing efficiency measures to ensure that the allocated resources are utilised efficiently. We guarantee Members and Committees that the efficiency measures will not impact on oversight and the quality of support to committee work.

The co-operation between the two Houses are bearing fruit and assist in reducing duplication and costs.

We are however, still confronted with the following constraints:

We made a commitment in the 2015/16 budget that efforts will be made to better arrange support to committee by implementation of a "team support approach"; we note this approach has not been fully realised. The administration must ensure that this progressive approach is fully implemented without any further delays.

Administration are under strict instruction to ensure that we do not suffer long standing vacancies in support services.

PBO

Since its inception three years ago , the Parliamentary Budget Office has grown from strength to strength. The PBO provides outstanding support to the Finance and Appropriations Committees and other committees where required.

CONCLUSION

I would like express my gratitude for the continuous support and leadership provided by the Speaker and colleagues.

     
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