Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence (JSCD) has raised a number of concerns over the National Conventional Arms Control Committee (NCACC), including outdated IT systems, poor reporting and End User Certificates.
In a committee report dated 26 February, the JSCD said one of the challenges raised by both the Committee and the defence industry, is that the current IT system utilised by the NCACC to process applications appears to be outdated, not able to desegregate information in a holistic and user-friendly manner, as well as causing delays in processing applications.
“The NCACC acknowledges this shortcoming and indicated that they hope to migrate to a new system by early 2021. Armscor has also indicated that they can assist the Directorate for Conventional Arms Control (DCAC) to migrate to a more user-friendly and updated system.”
The NCACC is supposed to release an annual report at the end of the first quarter of each year and make quarterly reports to Cabinet on all conventional arms exports. The NCACC generally complies, but the JSCD was concerned that the statistics provided do not provide an analysis on the impact of these transactions on the economy of the country, and do not include comparison between previous quarters/years, nor with which countries SA is mostly trading with.
The JSCD proposed that the NCACC should in the next presentation incorporate an economic analysis of statistics on the impact of permits approved. The DCAC agreed to the suggestion and committed to provide an economic analysis as well as comparative information on where the main changes occurred.
Concern was also expressed around the End User Certificate and its enforcement against the background that receiving countries had concerns around, inter alia, security and in loco inspections. “It was explained that this has now been dealt with through the gazetting of the amended Regulations and that going forward it will be facilitated through bilateral agreements and diplomatic means with the assistance of the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO),” the JSCD said. “It was emphasised that the regularity of the NCACC meetings should be addressed to engender certainty and speedier consideration of permits.”
Indeed the defence industry has raised concern about the regularity and predictability of NCACC meetings especially during election cycles, to which the NCACC has responded that this has now been addressed. The limited meetings of the NCACC due to the Covid-19 pandemic was also concerning to the Defence Industry given that they were “open for business.” The Committee committed to follow up on this issue in order to determine how similar situations can be managed in future, as it agreed that the regularity of NCACC meetings is important to engender certainty and predictability.