Energy Department under fire for failing to reach targets | Fin24
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Energy Department under fire for failing to reach targets

Aug 30 2016 12:13
Matthew le Cordeur

Cape Town – The Department of Energy (DoE) managed to spend 98% of its R7.27bn budget by the fourth quarter of 2015, but only achieved 45% of its targets, which raised eyebrows with a Parliamentary committee on Tuesday.

It also spent most of its 2016 first quarter budget of R2.18bn and only achieved 47% of its targets.

“I don’t understand why we set targets we can’t meet,” Fikile Majola, chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy, said during the DoE presentation at Parliament.

“It gives quite a problematic picture,” he said, calling for a review of target setting. He called on the DoE to take the committee seriously, as Parliament has an oversight duty to perform. "Where people are not doing what they're supposed to do, they must face consequences."

Democratic Alliance MP Pieter van Dalen said the committee was at the same junction last year.

“Targets are what determine your budget,” he told the DoE.  “You spend 98% of your budget, but you only reach 45% of your targets. That would be a fail at school. It does not seem that this department is doing any better than the previous year’s targets.

“It seems that some targets have been adjusted downwards, we still reach the same goals downwards,” he said. “Let’s change targets. It doesn’t bode well for the budget when we ask and the targets are not being reached.

“Lower spending and not attaining the completion in clean energy and the independent power producers (IPP) programme is very concerning,” he said. “You have committed to clean and IPP projected, but 39 projects are behind schedule.”

Deputy minister of energy Thembisile Majola said the department is affected by budgetary “haircuts”. “

“This has had serious implications on the implementation of our programmes, especially the electricity roll-out,” she told Parliament. “Fees must fall comes at a cost, and I think we all need to understand that.”

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson acknowledged that the department has its shortcomings.

“We know that we are not perfect and that there are shortcomings in what we present,” she said. “We have to be encouraged that the department received a clean audit.

“Perceptions influence ratings agency and sovereign credit rating,” she said. “Within this fiscal space, I wish to request that we have more intensive scrutiny and vigilance in what it is we are doing in the department. We have to have sufficient accountability to the portfolio committee.” 

“If I take responsibility for this (targets not being met), then there should be consequence management,” the minister said. “When the consequence management happens, it should not be personal.” 

“We know we have to implement a mandate (23 recommendations the committee gave the DoE this year)," she said.

D-G: New targets will be scientific and effective

Thabane Zulu, director general of the DoE, said they will review their targets to be more effective and scientific.

“Setting of targets does require a review,” he said. “We have accepted that the way targets our set are not very scientific.

“Sometimes we set targets that are the normal business of the day,” he said. “You cannot set targets for attending a meeting.

"There is a process of reviewing of targets," he said. "The targets set this year are going to be reviewed.

“The last Cabinet lekgotla said we should review all our targets,” he said. “We need more time to see where we have deviated from targets.

“The biggest point of departure is that our targets setting must be more effective and scientific.”

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