Parliament refurbishment to be completed by 2025

Wednesday, May 31, 2023

The total restoration of Parliament's infrastructure, which was destroyed by fire in January 2022, will only be finalised by 2025, says the Speaker of the National Assembly, Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula.

Mapisa-Nqakula said Parliament has directed the setting up of a rebuilding project, implemented through the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA) and other stakeholders, including the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure and National Treasury.

She said National Treasury has also allocated an amount of R118 million for the 2023/2024 financial year, which will include funding for office accommodation and ancillary work, referred to as “unforeseen expenditure” in the Medium-Term Budget Statement, towards this work.

“National Treasury also made a firm commitment to cover the rest of the financial requirements for the restoration of its infrastructure and will allocate a total budget of R2 billion over the course of the restoration project.

"We envisage that although much of the work of the restoration will happen during the next year, the total restoration will only be finalised by 2025,” Mapisa-Nqakula said.

Mapisa-Nqakula presented the Parliament’s R4. 351 billion for the 2023/24 financial year on Wednesday.

She said the total allocation received from National Treasury amounts to R3. 895 billion, and the shortfall in the amount of R456 million will be funded by retained earnings, donor funding and the revenue of Parliament.

“This shortfall is largely driven by the cost of employment. The National Treasury allocation for the compensation of employees amounts to R965 million, whilst the projected expenditure is R1. 323 billion,” the Speaker said.

Saving costs

Mapisa-Nqakula noted that the baseline reductions have caused significant strain on the budget and will need to be addressed by cost-saving measures that Parliament has already initiated.

These include a revision of Travel Policy, Voluntary Early Retirement Dispensation (VERD) and organisational realignment.

In addition, she said inflation is expected to remain high, driving up the cost of Parliament’s goods and services.

“Parliament officials will therefore have to engage National Treasury on the impending shortfalls in the allocation of Parliament’s budget. The Parliamentary Budget Office - a separate entity in terms of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act - receives a transfer payment under Programme 3 and will need more funding over time to function effectively.

“Also included in this 2023/24 appropriation is an amount of R58 million to be utilised to achieve Parliament’s new transformational targets, which are incorporated to drive the new strategic direction toward the 7th Parliamentary Term. Parliament will embark on preparing the Strategic Plan and budgeting for the 7th Parliament,” the Speaker said.

She said the officials of National Treasury and Parliament will engage to ensure that the 7th Strategy is fully funded.

She added that although there is currently a budget shortfall, the low rate of expenditure on certain items, has resulted in unspent funds. 

“These funds will be used to address the shortfall for the 2023/24 budget. While the overall budget appears to be significant for 2023/24, the amount available for discretionary allocation is small,” the Speaker said. 

She said the Accounting Officer has limited control over the following allocations in the budget:

  • Direct charge for Members’ remuneration;
  • Transfers to political parties;
  • PARMED payments;
  • Facilities for Members;
  • Benefits for former Members;
  • Salary adjustments decided by the sector bargaining process, and
  • Contingent liabilities.

The composition of the budget should be reviewed to reflect the availability and use of resources, in a more accurate way, Mapisa-Nqakula said. –