Honourable House Chairperson
Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee
Honourable embers of the Portfolio Committee
Honourable Members of this House
Deputy Minister in The Presidency
Members of the Statistics Council and
Ladies and gentlemen
I have once again the honour of tabling the Budget Vote of another important institution of our government, Statistics South Africa.
In last year’s Budget Vote I invoked the words of our icon the late President Mandela in his letter from prison to the late Mam’Adelaide Tambo where he said: “Significant progress is always possible if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms. Preparing a master plan and applying it are two different things.”
In the same month (July 2014) Cabinet approved our Medium Term Strategic Framework which drew inspiration from this wise counsel of Madiba and sought to plan in detail what we will do over the next five years. Since that Budget Vote, the focus has shifted towards implementing our plan.
Let me state the obvious that simply having a plan, however detailed, is not enough. As Abraham Lincoln once said: “If we could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could better judge what to do, and how to do it”.
How do we know where we are? How do we know the progress we are making? By what means or measure will we know that we are on the right path towards our goals? How will we know what more or what less should be done in the course of and for the cause of a vision?
In order to answer these important questions we need credible evidence. During the Budget Vote for the Department of Planning Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME), yesterday, I indicated that our work will be greatly enhanced by the role of statistics in general and StatsSa in particular as we implement our vision as set out in the National Development Plan.
Since 1994, we have crafted progressive policies but the challenges have been the measures by which all these plans could realise their intended goals. In this statistics and Stats SA give credence to our claim that ours is a scientific and reliable development programme.
As we have indicated before, the National Development Plan is our comprehensive development roadmap consulted widely from all sectors of society, accepted and adopted by our freely elected representatives and legislature in August 2012. It is our Master Plan through which significant progress will be made possible. We have begun to address the second aspect of Madiba’s counsel that is to apply our plan.
The link between the Budget Vote I tabled yesterday before this House and the one I present to day is that the work of DPME in monitoring the implementation of our plan, will be enhanced by the measurement tools developed and applied by Statistics South Africa.
Credible statistics will also help us to respond unequivocally to the questions that, having embraced the NDP, the masses of our people have. They are asking:
Have we consciously and comprehensively aligned our implementation programmes and projects to the Master Plan?
Are we monitoring the plan continuously?
Do we have the staying power to see our plan through?
Are we picking up the critical lessons we have learnt in order to spur our development agenda forward?
Are we experts and masters of our terrain and plan and
Finally are we using scientific facts to lead and manage the plan?
Answering these six questions honestly is important to ensure that our people continue to believe in our vision and plan. Yesterday we began to answer these questions as we outlined what we will do to monitor both the alignment of plans and their implementation. We do not take for granted that our society has demonstrated that they have confidence in the plan. Our job is to ensure that we do not disappoint them. Our thoughts, actions, communication and reporting must be coherent and consistent. For this we need robust facts and statistics based on scientific methods. And to signify the importance of this work, we deliberately opted that we must have dedicated conversation on the work of StatsSA as we do here today and now.
I wish to draw your attention to the key features of the work programme of Statistics South Africa. These are aimed at spurring our NDP forward through implementation of measurement.
There are five of them and in part elaborate on the questions and deliver some of the answers we sorely need:
The first feature relates to the task of ensuring that there is a deliberate alignment in the results value chain. This is from inputs, outputs, outcome and impact through the use of a rigorous application of statistical indicator framework.
The second is the Community Survey which will assist us in a comprehensive understanding of the state of delivery of services from 1996 when we had our first post-apartheid benchmark, namely Census 1996. Corollary to the second, the work programme focuses on the first dipstick survey covering Customer Satisfaction Survey and this will be undertaken in the KwaZulu-Natal province.
The third is about the continued improvement of the economic statistics through enhanced coordination of national accounts under one authority and further implementation of international standards.
The fourth thrust focuses on the Close-Out Report on the Millennium Development Goals and adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The fifth area I will discuss is on legislative reform for faster, better and greater compliance with the implementation of the national statistical system. Finally we note with satisfaction that Statistics South Africa will have a new home.
President Zuma has asked the question about where South Africans live, work and play. He has inaugurated the National Development Plan as an instrument through which not only will he know where they live, work and play, but also how well they live, work and play. This can be achieved when there is alignment.
Let me turn then to actions directed at alignment of the results value chain. In order for us to exploit the possibility of significant progress one of the immediate tasks is to ensure that we have consciously and comprehensively aligned our implementation programmes and projects to our Master Plan, the NDP. Through a process of refinement of indicators by which we monitor the plan, we shall be in a position to know the extent to which our Master Plan is comprehensive and how well it is aligned and implemented. Furthermore we need to test the NDP against the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) using the indicators of the NDP against those of the SDGs.
Having a Master Plan and implementing it are two different things, unless you manage the Master Plan through a disciplined comprehensive system of fact based indicators. By linking our plan to the incoming Sustainable Goals, means that while our Plan responds directly to the immediate concerns, it is also a sufficient plan to accommodate those expectations which the global community has for the improvement of the lives of the whole of mankind.
As we implement through Operation Phakisa, the faster and better results approach, we need to be assured that the rafts of measurements at our disposal are robust. We shall stay the course only when we use scientific methods and scientific statistics. We are convinced that Stats SA, will continue to excel in providing this service, and with the necessary approvals by this House of the Budget I propose, they will be able to sweat their assets in providing the South African public with the planning implementation, monitoring and evaluation environment they need.
As I speak the Statistician-General and the Director-General of the DPME are hard at work on alignment of systems of planning through a robust indicator framework to be delivered for consideration by the July Cabinet Lekgotla.
As regards our reflection over the twenty years on our delivery record, Statistics South Africa will again be conducting the Community Survey, a second in the life of the organisation. This mammoth task, albeit smaller than the national population census that we have run every ten years since 2001, is still big by any count. This survey the second one from 2007 will be better, bigger, faster, and cheaper. This survey is poised to be in field from the beginning of February to end of March 2016 and features the following properties.
What makes it better? It is better in that it will be able to provide estimates of progress or lack thereof at the level of municipalities. This feature was quite difficult to achieve in the 2007 survey for smaller municipalities. Using the mandates emanating from Statistics Act and the Spatial Development Acts, some of the NDP indicators require information at the lowest levels of Geography and the implementation of statistical geography in the legislative reform will ensure that there is provision of data at the required levels. We do this departing from the premise that the delivery points of our democratic system at a local government level. It will be bigger, faster and cheaper.
What makes it bigger? It is bigger in that it is five times the size of the previous 2007 effort and will reach out to 1.5 million households instead of the three hundred thousand in 2007. This sample size will enable society to get estimates of municipal performance at every municipality.
What makes it faster? It is faster in that through the use of tablet technology, the selection, recruitment, training and appointments of staff will be delivered electronically and the results of interviews from households will be electronically transmitted to servers for processing. Editing of responses for correctness will be done instantly at interviewing level thus eliminating the need for extensive edits that usually take a lot of time. The results will be released by end of June 2016 in what South Africa has become accustomed to, namely modern multiplatform and multimedia easy to use channels.
What makes this Community Survey cheaper? It is cheaper in that it is delivered at almost an equivalent of three hundred million Rands in 2007 terms. So it is delivered at half the price of the 2007 survey but it is five times the size.
The information will point out to the progress, or lack thereof, in many areas of state action. It will answer the question of whether or not and how fast we are transforming our vision captured in the NDP into a commitment. Upon launching the 1996 Census Results, President Nelson Mandela made the following statement which 2016 Community Survey should answer.
“They (results) show a society which had enormous basic needs to be met, whether it be in terms of access to clean water; electricity, telephones or schooling. By measuring the extent of deprivation in October 1996, the results provide us with benchmarks against which our performance, as government and nation, should be measured year by year.”
Implementing the Community Survey in 2016, twenty years from the first census under democratic rule, will provide us with a twenty year perspective of what has been achieved and what more needs to be done. It will provide us with the information means by which we will know whether or not we are on the right path towards successfully implementing our vision or not. What more of what or what less of what should be done and what trade-offs provide the best outcome. We look forward to these results in about fourteen months from today.
Team Stats SA is ready to work hard and deliver to South Africa another excellent product which will make us understand ourselves better as a nation. We call on South Africans to heed the call and to fully participate when the time comes.
As a corollary of the Community Survey, at the behest of the Premier of KwaZulu-Natal, Statistics South Africa will be mounting a user-paid Customer Satisfaction Survey in October this year. This will be reported before the end of 2015. This edition of the series of statistics will also assist Stats SA to refine its proof of concept for the 2016 Community Survey operation. This further demonstrates how battle ready the organisation is and is gearing up towards delivery.
The survey will deliver to the war room of KwaZulu-Natal perspectives on the delivery of services from the side of the consumer and how satisfied or otherwise they are with these. They will confirm whether services are being delivered or not including on whether such services are in working order or not. Consumers will, as citizens, confirm whether the tap actually delivers water or whether there are critical disruptions. These citizens’ survey on levels of approval or disapproval regarding the services at their disposal raises the quality of accountability and should deliver better fruits of democracy. It is democracy in action.
It is important for purposes of uniformity of methods and ensuring that the quality of data produced is attested to by a credible organisation that in time and as the schedule permits that Stats SA also conducts similar operations across other provinces. We should, as a matter of cause, be united behind a unified vision which is measured appropriately at regular intervals. In all this we will continue to be guided by the voice of our iconic late President Nelson Mandela: “Preparing a Master Plan and applying it are two different things.”
Sustained improvement and implementation of economic statistics depends on ensuring that systems of collation are optimised for sustained quality of the national accounts “if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms.” In this regard two years ago, Stats SA jointly with the South African Reserve Bank entered a programme of improving the compilation of the National Accounts of our country. To this end, the two institutions, have agreed that it is desirable that the three sides of the national accounts are compiled under one roof. Progress to achieving this seamless integration of national accounts has been significant over the two years.
By March 2016, the first expenditure side of the national account will be delivered by Stats SA to complement the production and income sides of the Gross Domestic Product. Over the past six months users have been consulted on the imminent changes. This stance will not only improve the national accounts but will foster the path towards ensuring that import data on individual products is further improved and enhanced. This will enable and guide integration across data systems of the state.
Having implemented the most recent System of National Accounts in November 2015, Stats SA will strive to further its implementation of the System of Environmental Economic Accounts and associated frameworks this year. Through the integration of the environment and the economy, policy makers will be further equipped to make decisions that will ensure sustainable economic growth. “Significant progress is possible” in improving the quality of our data and Stats SA shall serve faster and better in delivering the South Africa I Know, the Home I Understand, through integration.
In the last fourteen years we have been seized with meeting the targets of the Millennium Development Goals. As we bid farewell to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in the remaining five months, we are pleased that they have embedded in the public consciousness the notion of the importance of measurement. However, the extent to which the culture of measurement is manifest leaves a lot to be desired globally and this begs the question of whether significant progress is possible to realise. To this end we need to ensure that the gap between the Master Plan and implementation of the Plan is minimised particularly as regards the adoption and implementation of Sustainable Development Goals – the SGDs.
The SDGs are significantly demanding when it comes to data. In comparison to the eight goals of the MDGs, the SDGs have 17 goals. The targets in the MDGs were 20 and in the new SDGs they are 69. Indicators in the MDG framework were forty eight and they rose to sixty and in the SDG era the suggestion is to have 302 but there are at least one thousand or so being floated. This implies that the country statistics systems will have to cope with a much bigger demand than before and “if we ourselves plan every detail and allow intervention of fate only on our own terms” it is possible to do what seemed impossible.
Statistics South Africa has already undertaken an exercise of mapping at least the goals and targets from the SDGs on our Master Plan, namely the NDP, and there is a good fit between the two. StatsSA will, as time unfolds, engage in the process of indicators. A continental programme on SDG indicators is under way to produce these such that they meet the deadline of the Heads of State meeting in South Africa in June.
The indicators, after being considered by individual countries, will have to be retested to see whether they are coherent with the Common Africa Position (CAP) which represented the response of Africa to the SDGs. What needs to follow is how well the Common African Position indicators match the Agenda 2063 ramp and how well as well they match the SDG indicators.
This alignment of indicators to goals and targets has seized the imagination of African statisticians. African Statisticians have provided the Strategy for the Harmonisation of Statistics in Africa (SHaSA) and to that end a number of important continental programmes have been successfully driven. Amongst these are the 2010 Round of Censuses, the Civil Registration and Vital Statistics (CRVS), and the International Comparisons Programme Africa (ICP). What is crucial currently is for African statisticians to embolden the SHaSA by costing it. At the time of the Financing for Development in Addis Ababa Ethiopia in July this year, African Statisticians should table a costed strategy for SDGs. This will enable African countries to mobilise both internal and external resources that guarantees high quality statistics to inform, measure performance and enable Africa to fast track development outcomes and impacts.
In addition, BRICS countries are in the process of developing a social statistics indicator system. There is an emerging agreement at thematic level on the topics for social statistics but the actual work on the development of indicators will start as soon as the necessary approval by principals has been given.
To meet all these demands for high quality, high frequency statistical data the Statistics Council and the Statistician-General have engaged a process of legislative reform focusing mainly on reforms in five areas.
Strengthening coordination mechanisms and compliance
Through the National Strategy for Development of Statistics (NSDS) which is proposed in the legislative reform process, the NDP indicators will form part of the body of work that will be contained in the NSDS. More importantly, the proposed changes in the legislation advocate for governance structures such as the statistics units to be established. Should these be established they would be able to ensure that that the data that is used in tracking NDP indicators and their own indicators is credible through using the light version of the South African Statistical Quality Assessment Framework.
In doing this, data quality will be embedded in the work of each organ of state that has a statistics unit. These statistics units will help with converting administrative data to statistics. We will again rely on this house when the legislative amendments are discussed to further assist in the improvement of our statistical growth to advance the National Development Plan.
One of the outcomes of the two day workshop on NDP indicators and SDGs was that the data sources that will be needed to track the indicators will be the Censuses, surveys, administrative records and big data. Through including data revolution in the legislative changes, South Africa will have producers of statistics from public, private and civil society sectors producing data within the South African National Statistics System. This will ensure that the data that is required for tracking the NDP indicators is acquired in a cost effective and efficient manner.
Some of the services and the institutional arrangements and protocols aimed at improving the services of StatsSa will be available to the relevant committees of Parliament for guidance and approvals.
Statistics South Africa goes to a new home at Freedom Park. Information is Freedom. Over a period of time members of the public who visited Stats SA in the City of Tshwane have asked legitimate questions about accommodation conditions under which staff members serve. This has not only been limited to the public but some of the honourable members of this august house have repeatedly asked how StatsSA could perform its work under such dilapidated conditions of accommodation. It is thanks to those who have shown this genuine concern that finally it is no longer a promise that the new home for Stats SA is fourteen months away. Come June 2016 Stats SA will move to their new home in Freedom Park.
I performed the sod turning ceremony in July and I am impressed with the speed of delivery and the tight monitoring regime that accompanies the building. The staff will be in a modern building befitting of an information and technology driven institution that must be at the heart of all our development work. The staff will be located in an open plan environment divided by glass walls consistent with the drive for transparency. The design of the building has an apex as a drum, thus StatsSA is drumming for a better future through better statistics.
The budget allocated to Statistics South Africa for the 2015/16 financial year as stated in the ENE is R2.24 billion, which is divided as follows:
Administration R 791 262 000
Economic Statistics R 214 445 000
Population and Social Statistics R 133 675 000
Methodology and Standards R 66 286 000
Statistical Support and Informatics R 250 004 000
Statistical Collection and Outreach R553 560 000
Survey Operations R 235 976 000
Honourable members, The National Development Plan under the stewardship of President Zuma is possible to implement with the use of credible data for input into our planning, monitoring and evaluating the outcomes and the impacts that such a plan achieves to the lives of our society.
In conclusion, let me reiterate that in order to “know where we are, and whither we are tending”, in order to “judge what to do, and how to do it” we need good statistics. I invite honourable members to support this budget vote so that we can continue to perform this important function.
I thank you!
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SOURCE: South African Official News