Parliament’s budget to be cut by R772m in the next three years

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George

Secretary to Parliament Xolile George

Published Mar 18, 2024


The budget of Parliament is set to be slashed by almost R800 million over the 2024 medium term expenditure framework.

This was revealed by Secretary to Parliament Xolile George while briefing the joint standing committee on financial management of Parliament on Friday on progress made in discussions between Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana, National Assembly Speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula and National Council of Provinces chairperson Amos Masondo to address concerns around the national legislature’s budget allocation.

George said the budget of Parliament continued to decline.

He also said they had made an undertaking in 2022 for an analysis of the misalignment of the budget and mandate of the institution.

“There were a number of glaring gaps on funding of Parliament. The budget of Parliament continues to be cut and it puts Parliament in a precarious position.

“In the last three years Parliament relied on more internal savings and retained earnings. That base of protection has completely declined and, in fact, it has now evaporated as we reach the end of March 2024, which makes the case much more difficult and complex.”

George also said R240m was cut in the 2023-24 budget.

“It leaves us with no option other than raiding various votes under each division,” he said, referring to sourcing funds for public participation, oversight and international engagement as they require more money.

“In the next three years we have seen almost R800m to be cut. As we understand the fiscal headwinds on revenue collection, it consistently undermines the ability of Parliament to discharge its constitutional role,” George said.

Chief financial officer Jason O’Hara informed the committee of engagements with Godongwana and the National Treasury to assist Parliament to meet its constitutional mandate and operational obligations.

O’Hara said they had requested additional funding.

“The National Treasury said these funds would be considered during the medium term budget policy statement tabled in October 2023, which did not occur.”

O’Hara said in engagements with the National Treasury, the funds required for law-making, oversight, public participation and the implementation of the Zondo Commission were outlined.

He listed several items that would put pressure on the institution’s budget such as the Parmed medical scheme, the MPs’ loss of office gratuity, the funding of political party allowances, contingencies due to variations in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of buildings damaged by fire.

O’Hara said the budget reduction for 2023/24 amounted to R214m, and that R772m would be cut from 2024/25 until 2026/27.

“The total budget reductions implemented by National Treasury from the current year 2023/24 to 2026/27 amount to R986m.”

Parliament has embarked on its own process intended to calculate the full financial exposure of its operational and mandated functions through a funding model and costing model project.

“Due to the specialised nature of the work needed, this project has undergone a supply chain management procurement process and is currently under review by the bid evaluation committee.

“The overall project is estimated to be complete within a three- to six-month period depending on the size of the organisation awarded.”

In their recommendations to the committee, Parliament asked the committee to call on Godongwana to urgently issue a letter on an alternative solution to refund the allocation to relieve the national legislature of its budget pressures, among other things.

Committee co-chairperson Peace Mabe said the National Treasury should not tamper with Parliament’s budget.

“It should allow Parliament to present its budget as it is required and also should fund them. If there are to be changes, they should make prior arrangements,” Mabe said.

IFP chief whip Narend Singh said some of the issues raised were not new and that Parliament should prioritise issues that would be absolutely essential in the 2024/25 financial year.

“It is quite glaring that the support to members is not included. If we are to function optimally, Parliament must make sure our research capacity is bolstered so that we can make meaningful contribution in debates and legislation,’ he said.

EFF MP Omphile Maotwe said if Parliament was able to generate R25m of own revenue last year, it should explore how it could generate revenue to fund its programmes.

“We all need to agree that, as an arm of state, we should support the government in implementing revenue-generating programmes,” Maotwe added.