MPs are in a race against the clock after they heard from a legal advisor that Sassa needs to update its annual plan in line with the Constitutional Court before they can debate its upcoming budget.
The South African Social Security Agency was due to present its annual performance and budget plans (APP) to the social development portfolio committee last week.
The presented document, however, had not been updated to include the Constitutional Court’s order over the social grants saga, issued two months prior on March 17.
Time is running out for the committee, as the updated plan has to be tabled before the committee debates the budget of the department of social development, which includes Sassa. Parliament’s legal advisor Nathi Mjenxane on Wednesday said the annual performance plan needs to be aligned with the Constitutional’s Court order so the budget can be allocated accordingly.
Sassa executive manager Raphaahle Ramokgopa said there was nothing in the outdated plan that contradicts the ConCourt, and the plan only needs to be updated.
She hoped a new APP could be filed by Friday or Monday, giving the committee three days before its debate.
Sassa CFO Tsakeriwa Chauke stressed that the impasse will not affect the payments of social grants in any way, as that was mandated by Treasury.
What a delay in the budget will affect is Sassa’s day-to-day operational costs, and may affect the activities it wants to add in the upcoming 12 months.
Without the passing of the annual performance plan, the department and Sassa do not have a legal basis on which to spend its allocated budget.
It will also affect accountability when reviewing that financial year 12 months later.
Committee chairperson Rose Capa said they would write to parliamentary Speaker Baleka Mbete to request an extension to the portfolio committee’s deadline to debate the budgets.
Capa said the department would have to work around the clock to meet the deadline, but an extension will give it more breathing room to deliver a proper plan, and for MPs to engage with it.
She would also ask Mbete how to account for issues not in the current plan, and will wait for her direction.-News24