Today marks the start of Parliament’s Budget Vote Debates. The Parliamentary Budget Votes constitute five-year strategic and annual performance plans of government departments, including the Presidency. They are tabled at Parliament because they have to be approved by it and in so doing, it has to utilise its oversight microscope to determine their appropriateness and relevance to our country’s service delivery priorities as stated in the State of the Nation Address by President Jacob Zuma.
Parliament is an arena within which departments’ budgets are tabled because it is its constitutional mandate to manage the public purse with the outmost integrity, to ensure that the executive is held accountable for both its expenditure and its service delivery performance. To this end, not one annual budget request will escape the fresh and critical eye of parliamentarians as departments present their business cases for the forthcoming financial year to various Extended Public Committees.
In its adoption of these budget votes, Parliament will be guided by Public Finance Management Act which states that the political head of a department (a Cabinet Minister or provincial Member of the Executive Council) is responsible for policy matters and outcomes. This responsibility includes seeking parliamentary (or provincial legislature) approval and adoption of the department’s budget vote. The director-general of a national department or the provincial head of department is responsible for outputs and implementation, and is accountable to Parliament or the provincial legislature for the management of the implementation of that budget. The common cause of all these Budget Votes will be to ensure that there is efficient and effective service delivery.
First on today’s list are the Budget Vote on Health, National Treasury (State Security), Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, and Transport. Much can be expected from the Budget Vote on Health, but most critical of all would be pronunciations, if any, on the National Health Insurance. These Budget Votes will proceed from today until the 29 of May.
Source : Parliament of South Africa