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Ramaphosa: Govt department size under review, will be done by 2019

May 28 2018 15:06
Lameez Omarjee

Cape Town – The process of reviewing the size of national government departments and the national executive is underway, President Cyril Ramaphosa has confirmed.

He was responding to a written parliamentary question from Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier about the process. During his maiden State of the Nation Address, Ramaphosa announced plans to review the "configuration, number and size of national government departments".

"A Technical Task Team of officials (led by the Presidency) from the following departments is currently reviewing the configuration of the national government: The Presidency; the Department of Public Service and Administration; the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation; the National Treasury; and the Department of Cooperative Governance," Ramaphosa said.

Ramaphosa said that a preliminary analysis has been concluded so far, and a review of previous and current configurations was still in progress. The review would be completed after "due political consultations", to implement changes for the sixth administration, he said.

During the budget vote of the Presidency last week, Ramaphosa explained that the review was necessary to ensure the effective functioning of government.

"It is examining in detail the modalities of a state that is leaner, smarter, adaptable and more capable of delivering on its mandate to improve the lives of South Africans," he said during his address.

Ramaphosa has been visiting government departments to ensure "sharper strategic focus" and "greater alignment" in the implementation of priorities.

"The visits have done much to boost morale and enable departmental staff to understand their roles in promoting effective service delivery. Our overriding concern in all matters of governance is to put the people first," Ramaphosa explained.

In his reply to the debate on Thursday, Ramaphosa said that addressing governance and the need to build a capable, developmental state involved more than just reviewing the size of Cabinet.

"The reconfiguration of the state is a far greater and more ambitious undertaking that must go to the heart of the capacity of government to meet the country’s developmental needs.

"We need to address issues of structure, not just of national departments, but of all spheres and all public institutions. We also need to address issues of efficiency and resource allocation," he said.

Ramaphosa added that fruitless, wasteful, irregular and unauthorised expenditure must be stopped, and that budgeted funds should be allocated to programmes that have the greatest beneficial impact.

"Budgeting is about making choices. We need to have the capacity, the data and the political will to make the right choices," he said.

The DA has called, several times, for the size of Cabinet to be reduced in an effort to save funds.

"The reshaping of the national executive will take time, but is a lost opportunity to send the right ‘fiscal signals’ when it comes to wasteful expenditure by the national executive," DA spokesperson on finance David Maynier said in a statement.

"There are a number of ‘quick wins’ that could be implemented immediately that would send the right ‘fiscal signals’ and would compliment the review of the size and shape of the national executive."

Among the "quick wins" include a moratorium on the spouses or adult family members accompanying officials on trips, Maynier suggested.

Maynier wrote to the president on May 4 requesting the moratorium as well as a review on the Ministerial Handbook’s sections dealing with international official journeys. The presidency has received the letter, Dr Cassius Lubisi, the Director General and Cabinet Secretary confirmed to the DA in a letter dated May 17.

Maynier’s request comes following revelations that former Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba was accompanied by his wife Norma for trips to the United States, Japan, China and Singapore in November 2017, which cost tax payers over R870 000.

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