|Welcome to SAnews.gov.za, the gateway to quick and fresh government news and information|
|Home | Today's stories | This week's stories | Last week's stories | Other Features | International News | User policy|
Compiled by the Government Communication and Information System|
Date: 30 May 2012
Title: Ministers are aware of responsibility to Parliament
Cape Town - Government ministers are aware of their accountability to Parliament and take this responsibility seriously, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe said on Wednesday, following concern yesterday from the Speaker of Parliament Max Sisulu about the number of parliamentary questions that were not being answered in time by ministers.
Sisulu on Tuesday raised concern in Parliament's Budget Vote about the number of parliamentary questions that were not being answered in time by government ministers.
According to DA chief whip Watty Watson, as of May 1 a total of 505 questions placed by MPs to minister remained unanswered.
But, speaking in the National Assembly during the Presidency's Budget Vote, Motlanthe said that the Executive was committed to responding to questions.
"Let me reassure honourable members that ministers do take this responsibility seriously," he said.
He also pointed out that the number of parliamentary questions asked last year had increased by nearly 12% over 2010 - from 3 879 questions to 4 333 questions.
Last year fewer than six percent of parliamentary questions were answered before the end of the Parliamentary year.
Turning to the fight against HIV and Aids, Motlanthe said South Africa was slowly winning the fight, singling out several developments that demonstrated that the country had made progress in tackling the epidemic.
These include the high numbers of people who are now receiving treatment, the government's successful HIV Counselling and Testing Campaign, the improvement in the detection of new TB infections and the decline in the transmission of HIV from mother to child.
"We have shifted the way we think about the response to the epidemic and have recognised the need to expand beyond the health sector, to include all sectors, every department, all institutions, all organised structures, communities, households and individuals," he said.
With the overall decline in development aid, the government is looking to identify innovative ways of sustaining programmes tackling HIV and TB.
Economic governance, improved co-ordination, joint planning across departments, public-private partnerships and meaningful community engagement were necessary at this time, he said.
Motlanthe called upon the business community to work together towards meeting the vision of an Aids-free South Africa.
He said he had set up an ad-hoc governance committee to improve co-ordination and monitoring of the SA National Aids Council.
The committee had proposed a comprehensive governance framework which will ensure accountability, transparency, more inclusive of all sectors of society.
He said there had been a wide response to the National Strategic Plan for HIV, TB and Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) which was presented last year.
The plan will for the first time, help the country to fight HIV/Aids and TB - which are often linked - in a comprehensive way.
He said experts had confirmed that some people were more susceptible to HIV and TB.
These include: young women and girls, those with little or no education, people living in informal settlements and rural areas, migrant workers, those living in mines, prisoners and those living along major long-haul truck routes.
Turning to job creation, Motlanthe said the government, in all its various programmes, needed to target youth.
He said the Community Works Programme aimed to create one million work opportunities by 2014, while the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) planned to create two million work opportunities, while the National Treasury's Jobs Funds created further jobs.
The government will also continue to provide support to small businesses and smallholder farmers and providing vocational and continuing education and training would target between 300 000 and 800 000 students.
He said the differences expressed by social partners to the youth wage subsidy should not deter South Africans from the main objective of lowering the costs and time of entry into the labour market.
"We must together with all social partners, work out mechanisms to prevent, detect and address abuse when it does occur," he said.
He stressed that the National Nuclear Energy Executive Co-ordination Committee, which was set up by the cabinet in November last year, would not be responsible for procurement.
"Its mandate is only that of co-ordinating the nuclear-build programme and therefore will not be discussing tender specifications and procurement.
"That remains the responsibility of relevant government departments and agencies," he said. - BuaNews