The Budget Vote debate of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation presents an opportunity for the South African government and the country at large to assess the performance of the economy in pursuit of inclusive growth and socio-economic development � and to chart the way forward for the remainder of the mandate of the current 5th Administration.

Furthermore, the Budget Vote takes place in the aftermath of credit downgrades of the country by two prominent ratings agencies with an imminent additional rating by another agency anytime soon, that was what the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, Mr Jeff Radebe, said at Parliament today.

This is a major setback in our journey towards creating a better and more prosperous South Africa, said Mr Radebe. He said the challenges facing South Africa remain daunting. We have not made the required progress in promoting inclusive growth and transforming the economy and society for the benefit of the black majority of our citizens, said Mr Radebe.

According to Mr Radebe, the economy is underperforming relative to its potential and thus impending our ability to decisively address the triple challenges of unemployment, poverty and inequality.

Mr Radebe told NA MPs that his department, which is responsible for the achievement of Vision 2030 that is enshrined in the National Development Plan (NDP), has been allocated a budget of R923m for the 2017/18 financial year, which according to him, is expected to increase to R942m and R996m respectively over the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF). He said the budget includes a transfer payment to the National Youth Development Agency of R433m and the Public Sector Monitoring and Capacity Development is going to get R40m.

Supporting the Budget Vote of the department, the Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration/Planning, Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, Dr Makhosi Khoza, said it was united in supporting the Budget Vote of the department. She said the Committee is united in its mandate of overseeing the department and placing the country above petty party political differences.

Honourable Presiding Officer, in tabling this report of the Portfolio Committee responsible for overseeing the Planning, Performance, Monitoring and Evaluation, the Committee acknowledges the centrality of this department in ensuring that the South African government keeps its promise as outlined in the National Development Plan (NDP). I am very proud of this Committee, emphasised Dr Khoza.

Whilst praising the department for doing its work and the Committee for being united in doing its work of overseeing the department, Dr Khoza said the credit downgrade is indeed a major challenge facing South Africa.

Ms Mmabatho Mokause of the Economic Freedom Fighters, who spoke during the Budget Debate, rejected the Budget Vote of the department, citing reasons that included the fact that the department was not supposed to have existed in the first place. She said the department was created to be responsible for the irrelevant NDP. There is no implementation plan and there is no monitoring or evaluation framework, said Ms Mokause.

Also rejecting the Budget Vote of the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, the Inkatha Freedom Party's NA MP Mr Mkhuleko Hlengwa, said corruption advances in the South African government notwithstanding the existence of the department whose responsibility includes monitoring. There are scandals after scandals of corruption, the South African Social Services Agency (Sassa) � the government is collapsing yet there is something called Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation, said Mr Hlengwa.

He asked if who plans, planning what, planning it where and planning it for whom? You don't have information, the National Youth Development Agency exists as a pie in the sky, said Mr Hlengwa.

Mr Ahmed Shaik Emam of the National Freedom Party supported the Budget Vote, arguing that the department is charged with the responsibility of championing the successful implementation of the NDP and achievements of the MTSF outcomes and targets. That is the key function of this department, said Mr Shaik Emam. He told the NA MPs that South Africa has made limited progress in achieving the goals and targets that are contained in the NDP.

Source: Parliament of the Republic of South Africa

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