Parliamentary Monitoring Group, 12 October 2010
Summary: The Department of Energy presented its performance and spending for the first six months of 2010 to the Committee. The overall budget for the Department was R5.53 billion, but the spending to date was at 37.7%, with underspending noted in the programmes for Hydrocarbons and Energy Planning, Electricity, Nuclear and Clean Energy programmes, Administration and Associated Services. The Department indicated that its major funded projects was the Transnet Pipeline, and although a total budget of R1.5 billion was approved, once again there had been significant underspending, which the Department later explained was due to the agreements that each phase of the project must be paid for only on completion and on furnishing of an invoice. The Department was unable to explain the delays exactly, but mentioned that they had included environmental issues. The organisational structure of the Department since its inception was outlined. Although there was a total of 925 approved posts, only 531 were funded, and from these, 458 were filled, leaving 73 vacancies and 394 unfunded posts. The Department had taken some austerity measures, which were outlined. The Department then tabled the projects and anticipated completion dates and current progress, including the progress of the Integrated Resource Plan, licencing of petroleum products, and non-grid electrification programme, which focused on solar heating systems.
Members were not happy with the reports presented, commenting that they appeared to be incomplete, did not clearly show the spending in each programme, and were presented in a confusing format. They also had not specified enough about use of nuclear and clean energy. Members asked what progress there had been on the programmes presented earlier in the year. Members asked about the filling of the posts, particularly questioning where the money for this emanated, since it appeared that a re-allocation of amounts incorrectly paid to the Department of Mineral Resources, although confirmed, were yet to be actually paid across to the Department of Energy. Members questioned the provision of solar heaters, an asked why 82% of the budget for nuclear and clean energy was yet to be spent. Members questioned the spending on Associated Services, the amounts disbursed in respect of the 20 Year Integrated Energy Plan, and the spending on the Renewable Energy Financing and Subsidy Office. They also questioned the spending on the Transnet Pipeline, pointing out that the completion of this was key to transformation in the energy sector, questioned whether the problems now apparent had not been foreseen some months back, and commented also that the Department should be taking a far sterner stance on completion dates. Members agreed that it would be necessary to have another meeting to clarity the projects and completion dates, as well as the figures.