Prof. B Turok (ANC) to ask the Minister for the Public Service and Administration:
(1) Whether there are any limits on funds spent by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and officials who travel abroad for meetings and official visits on accommodation and allowances; if not, why not; if so,
(2) whether provision is made for repayment of funds when the limits are exceeded; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details;
(3) whether he will take any steps to reduce the cost to taxpayers; if not, why not; if so, what are the relevant details? NW2078E
REPLY / ANSWER
Yes, there are limits on funds spent by Ministers, Deputy Ministers and Officials. The Department does have an approved Travel and Subsistence policy in place with specific rules on foreign travel, accommodation and allowances. This policy also takes into account the stipulations of the Ministerial Handbook. Subsistence and travelling allowances are paid out in accordance with the “Financial Manual” dated 08 October 2009.
The policy provide for recovery if so required. All allowances are paid in terms of the prescribed daily allowances and rather than providing additional funding upfront, officials are allowed to apply for approval to claim additional expenditure incurred that could not be covered within the allowance provided. In this instance, the department is minimizing the need to recover monies from officials. Compliance to the policy is also ensured at the time of making bookings to prevent unintended additional costs. The department has no cases where limits have been exceeded.
The departmental Travel and Subsistence policy is being reviewed and flight and car hire travel classes have been amended to reduce costs. As another cost saving method, the department through the appointed travel agency is negotiating corporate agreements where possible to reduce costs. It should also be mentioned that through the leadership of the current Minister for Public Service and Administration, a decision was taken to reduce the size of delegations for overseas trips and to reduce the number of trips to ensure that only priority trips in line with the priorities of the department are undertaken.
The Minister, together with his colleagues of other Departments, will endeavour to ensure that departments adhere to procurement deployment of State resources in line with the applicable legislative framework.