National Student Financial Aid Scheme (Nsfas) administrator Dr Randall Carolissen has moved to quell any claims of mistrust that may exist between the scheme and Parliament.
This follows the drama that ensued at the parliamentary select committee on education, technology, sports, arts and culture meeting on Wednesday last week when Carolissen and his team were sent packing without presenting an all-important report about the goings-on at Nsfas.
Carolissen and his team had submitted the report late on Tuesday evening – a day before the meeting.
The report was to be interrogated by committee members but that meeting had to be postponed.
According to minutes of that meeting seen by City Press, committee members decried Nsfas’ decision to submit the report at the last minute complaining that they would be unable to scrutinise it.
This led to sources claiming this week that by chasing Nsfas, committee members did not trust that the report was accurate and that this was Nsfas’ strategy to ensure the report would not be interrogated.
A statement issued by committee chairperson Elleck Nchabeleng on Wednesday also said committee members expressed extreme disappointment with Nsfas management because this deprived members an opportunity to “fully scrutinise the documents and prepare for the engagement with Nsfas”, and that according to them, this was a “blatant disregard of accountability”.
. Reports on irregular expenditure amounting to billions;
. Erroneous payouts to students; and
. The subsequent effect of this on thousands of students who are beneficiaries of the Nsfas funding deserve a thorough engagement with officials who should address these challenges urgently.
Carolissen said this week: “No, there is no lack of trust. Under the administration Nsfas has continued to show that the organisation respects parliamentary structures of oversight. Nsfas has scheduled meetings with the chairperson of the portfolio committee.”
He said Nsfas submitted a report the night before the scheduled meeting because he wanted to include the latest statistics in the report which is what caused the delay. He said there was no other motive.
Nchabeleng said on Thursday that the committee still had to decide on a date to call Nsfas for the meeting.
“The committee has a programme that it follows. Thus, it does not just chop and change because of the entities that do not follow clear rules of engagement.
“The committee did not have time to peruse and interrogate the report from Nsfas as it was emailed to the committee secretary at 8.30pm a day before the meeting.
It is standard practice for all departments and entities that before they appear before the committee to submit a report they are going to present at least timeously as this enables committee members to have adequate time to interrogate it and be able to engage the department or entity meaningfully.”
He said it is only when committee members are well versed with the information that they will be able to conduct meaningful oversight.
“The committee did not engage Nsfas on this report, thus, the committee cannot comment on it,” Nchabeleng said.
Journalist | City Press
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