National Assembly approves budget allocations for more entities |04 March 2021
Budget allocations for several other entities were scrutinised before being approved by the National Assembly in its day-long sitting yesterday.
A budget of R80.893 million for the Judiciary
The Judiciary has been allocated a budget amounting to R80,893,000 and Juliana Esticot, the Registrar of the Supreme Court, accompanied by other key officials from the Judiciary were present in the Assembly to answer questions relating to the different financial breakdown for numerous projects and other expenses being planned by the Judiciary for this year.
Among key issues that Assembly members sought clarifications on were;
- a sum of some R11m representing an increase of R2m for security. Ms Esticot explained that other than the police, the Judiciary also relies on the services of three other security firms noting that employees of the judiciary face a lot of risks which require the physical presence of security officers at all times for their protection.
-R1.4m for a fresh coat of paint for the Palais de Justice building. Ms Esticot noted that since the Judiciary moved into the building in 2013 there has not been any major repainting other than a few retouching here and there every year. She said the sum will cover for the cost of a complete repainting of the whole building.
- a considerable sum of over R14 million has been earmarked for IT equipment. Ms Esticot pointed out that several pieces of electronic equipment need to be replaced, others need to be repaired while there is also a need to buy more modern equipment to enable the Court to continue with its proceedings virtually in spite of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Other questions raised were related to the new Magistrate Court building, recruitment of new judges to address backlog in court cases, increase in board fees, utilities, office expenses, fuel costs among numerous others.
R12.3 million for the office of the Electoral Commission (EC)
Presenting the budget for the EC, its chairperson Danny Lucas went on to detail the function and mandate of the commission. He explained that the budget represents an increase of R3.4 million from last year’s budget and this increase he said will be swallowed mostly by rent and utilities’ costs.
The monthly rent of R138,000 for each of the three floors at Sacos Tower being occupied by the EC raised a lot of questions and members called for a renegotiation with the landlord in order to further reduce the rent.
Mr Lucas and other officials from the EC also answered Assembly members’ questions on numerous other issues relating to increase in utilities, voter registration and education, voter census, political parties, organisation of elections, printing of ballot papers, increase in wages and salaries, the need for the commission to embrace more modern technology in its operations, among others.
A budget of R12.378 million for TRNUC
A budget of R12,378,000 for the Truth, Reconciliation and National Unity Commission (TRNUC) received the approval by members from both parties in the House. But this was not after intense scrutiny, several questions and clarifications from Assembly members.
Presenting the budget for TRNUC, its vice-chairperson, Michael Green, said the sum allocated has seen a reduction of R906,000 from the 2020 budget.
From the allocated sum R7.543 million is for salaries, R4.635 million for goods and services from which R1.182 million will be spent on audio visuals and IT services. Mr Green also highlighted the different challenges of the commission including investigation constraints.
TRNUC commissioner Marie-May Leon assisted Mr Green in answering Assembly members’ questions, which were centred mainly on the high cost of office rent as well as the high cost of expenses including housing, airfares, transportation for the commission’s chairperson Australian lawyer Gabrielle McIntyre. At a time when the country is striving to cut costs wherever it can, Assembly members called for the need for cheaper housing accommodation for the TRNUC’s chairperson.
For his part the PS for finance, Damien Thesee, pointed out that the type of housing was negotiated as part of her contract but he noted that through negotiations with the landlord last year the rent was reduced from R54,000 to R43,000.
Other questions raised concerned security of the TRNUC offices at Ile Perseverance, security of information gathered by the TRNUC, recruitment of more investigators, the issue of compensation, among several other issues.
R1.7 million for the office of the Constitutional Appointment Authority (CAA)
Assembly members also approved a budget of R1.7 million for the Office of the Constitutional Appointment Authority (CAA). Michel Felix, the chairperson of the authority, was in the Assembly to defend the budget of his office and answer questions and clarifications from Assembly members.
The National Assembly continues its scrutiny of the different budget allocations today.