Parliament, The Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration commends the Minister for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Jackson Mthembu, for urgently intervening in the financial challenges and looming resignations at the Statistics Council, which are affecting its advisory function for Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) and for the Minister.

The committee does not take this matter lightly, as the council serves as an important role-player in endorsing statistics released by Statistics South Africa. The Portfolio Committee recommended on 16 October 2019 that: 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 governments benefit. If an ideal resolution cannot be found, the Minister is requested to escalate the matter to the Presidency.

Again, on 19 February 2020, the committee deliberated on the matter and resolved to extend an invitation to the ministers of Finance, Mr Tito Mboweni, and of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation as well as the Statistics Council to discuss the persistent financial crisis at Stats SA.

Budget was severely cut for the compensation of employees and other crucial projects, which continue 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.

In the envisaged meeting, the committee 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.

Committee Chairperson Mr Tyotyo James is of the view that governments cut to budget should solely be based on fairness and rationality, considering numerous factors, such as good governance, national planning, implementing the National Development Plan and audit outcomes. He said that 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 common understanding.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa