Parly to help decide Planning Ministries' functions

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Parliament - All stakeholders will have an opportunity to input into the process of deciding what functions the National Planning Commission and Planning Ministry will have and how they will be performed.

President Jacob Zuma announced the establishment of the two new ministries in May as part of government's new structure.

During the Presidency's Budget Vote debate in Parliament on Thursday, Minister in the Presidency: National Planning, Trevor Manuel, said two green papers would be released to allow stakeholders an opportunity to give input on how the two ministries should function.

The documents will also outline the precise role and function of the two ministries as well as the importance of a national strategic plan and vision that has the support and backing of the wider society.

The green papers will be presented to Parliament as a discussion document in the next month or so.

Responding to the debate on Thursday, President Zuma said government had envisaged a democratic process in which Parliament would have an important role to play.

"It must be a process in which broader society should be involved, giving practical expression to our efforts to involve the people more integrally into the process of governance," said the President.

He said the national strategic planning would facilitate and enhance delivery.

During the debate on Wednesday, most Members of Parliament agreed that there was a need for an effective monitoring and evaluation system in government. "Without a strict monitoring and evaluation mechanism, you cannot effectively measure progress achieved; nor timeously put in place interventions to enhance delivery," said President Zuma.

He added that the worth of good ideas and good policies resided in their implementation and the impact they made on people's lives.

"Attached to this is the need to monitor that implementation, to evaluate impact and to intervene when weaknesses are identified. This is precisely what we intend to do," said the President.

The two major functions of the Planning Ministry are to coordinate the process whereby government develops its long term vision and plan as well as direct the process whereby Cabinet collectively agrees to the Medium Term Strategic Framework, which sets out governments priorities and informs resources.

Mr Manuel said: "The Planning Ministry has a key role to play in building the organisational and technical capability of the state to ensure government delivers on its policy commitments."

He said government envisaged the creation of a nerve centre in the Presidency which would develop links with organisations such as the Development Bank of South Africa (DBSA), Human Science and Research Council (HSRC) and the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and other science councils, universities to engage them on long term developmental issues.

In this way, the Presidency would avoid replicating the expertise which already existed in the country. However, he said there was still the need for capacity to commission research, synthesise the evidence and to be able to feed these into the policy processes in government.

Mr Manuel said there was also a need in government to encourage a more systematic approach to long term planning and in state-owned enterprises.