Stats SA budget shortfall 'could harm quality of information' used for planning

Chair of the portfolio commission on public service and administration Hubert James raised the committee’s concerns in a letter to minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.
Chair of the portfolio commission on public service and administration Hubert James raised the committee’s concerns in a letter to minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.
Image: Freddy Mavunda/Business Day

Parliament said on Monday it was worried a budget deficit at Stats SA could hurt the entity’s ability to produce quality official statistics for the country.

Chair of the portfolio commission on public service and administration Hubert James raised the committee’s concerns in a letter to minister in the presidency Jackson Mthembu.

In a statement on Wednesday, the committee said James's letter also warned that the budget cuts placed the quality of basic statistics at risk and compromised the ability of the government to plan for the future.

“Budget shortfalls experienced are at an alarming state, rendering the department ineffective in producing quality official statistics for the country. Moreover, discontinuation of crucial statistical series, such as the Poverty and Living Conditions Surveys and Quarterly Labour Force Surveys, to mention a few, affects the generation of crucial information towards proper planning,” said James.

Describing Stats SA as “a hub that influences the country’s national planning through quality statistics”, James said severe budget cuts on compensation of employees and operations is a violation of the Statistics Act - even the constitution.

“The committee also noted that Stats SA has not made any appointments since October 2016, except for the statistician-general in November 2017, due to the Compensation of Employees' Bill not being adequately funded. The entity reported a vacancy rate of 17.2%, based on 605 posts being vacant as at the end of March 2019. Mr James also appealed to the minister to urgently escalate the matter to the president prior to the adjustment of the medium-term budget policy statement,” the statement read.


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