The Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on the performance of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 financial year, dated 24 October 2014


The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology, having considered the performance of the Department of Science and Technology for the 2013/14 financial year and its submission to National Treasury for the 2015 Medium Term Expenditure Framework, reports as follows:


1.         Introduction


1.1.      Mandate of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology


The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology (the Committee) is mandated by the Constitution and the Rules of Parliament to oversee the activities and performance of the Department of Science and Technology (the Department) and the entities that report to it. Hence, the Committee must consider, amend and/or initiate legislation; consider international agreements and provide a platform for the public to participate and present views on issues and/or legislation specific to the science, technology and innovation system. The entities that reported to the Department during the 2013/14 financial year are the:


1.1.1. National Advisory Council on Innovation (NACI)

1.1.2. National Research Foundation (NRF)

1.1.3. Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR)

1.1.4. Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC)

1.1.5. Africa Institute of South Africa (AISA)

1.1.6. Technology Innovation Agency (TIA)

1.1.7. South African National Space Agency (SANSA)

1.1.8. Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)


To enhance Parliament’s oversight role, the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (Act 9 of 2009) was promulgated to provide Parliament with a procedure to make recommendations to the Minister of Finance to amend the budget of a national department. A key provision of this Act is that Portfolio Committees must annually compile Budgetary Review and Recommendation (BRR) Reports. These BRR Reports provide an assessment of service delivery performance given available resources; evaluates the effective and efficient use and forward allocation of resources; and may make recommendations on the forward use of resources. The BRR Reports are also source documents for the Committees on Appropriations when they make recommendations to the Houses of Parliament on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS).


1.2.         Method to develop the 2014 Budget Review and Recommendation Report of the Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology


In preparation for the BRR Report, the Committee assessed the performance of the Department and the entities by:


·                Deliberating and considering the prevailing Strategic Plans and the 2013/14 and 2014/15 budget allocations and Annual Performance Plans;

·                Evaluating the 2013/14 quarterly performance and expenditure trends, as well as the first quarter performance and expenditure for the 2014/15 financial year;

·                Conducting oversight by having briefings on specific initiatives and programmes, which included site visits;

·                Inviting the Auditor-General (AG) to explain the 2013/14 audit outcomes for the Department and the entities; and

·                Deliberating and considering the 2013/14 Annual Reports of the Department and the entities.


1.3.         Mandate of the Department of Science and Technology


The Department is responsible for developing, co-ordinating and managing the National System of Innovation (NSI) to transform the economy and provide a better life for all South Africans. In fulfilment of this responsibility, the Department, with its entities, seeks to create an environment that promotes innovation; enhance South Africa’s knowledge-generation capacity; develop appropriate human capital in science, technology and innovation (STI); build and maintain excellent STI infrastructure; and position South Africa as a favourable location to conduct scientific research and development.




Science, technology and innovation are considered crucial for the creation of wealth and improving the quality of life in modern society. Hence, governments, as they strive for equitable and sustainable development, have a duty to create an enabling policy environment to support these goals. In South Africa, the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology introduced the concept of a NSI as an enabling framework for the development and application of science and technology in South Africa. Within this framework, Government (with the line department being the Department of Science and Technology) has the sole responsibility for, at the national level, policy formulation and resource allocation; and for regulatory policy-making.


The National Research and Development Strategy (NRDS) and the Ten Year Innovation Plan (TYIP) are the key drivers of the NSI. The TYIP, particularly, was put in place to guide the country towards a knowledge-based economy through human capital development, knowledge generation and exploitation, knowledge infrastructure and enablers to convert knowledge into socio-economic outcomes. The grand challenges outlined in the TYIP comprise the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industry (now referred to as the Bio-economy), space science, energy security and global change. The idea is to have a multidisciplinary thinking amongst South African researchers to deal with these challenges in an innovative way that would bring socio-economic changes in this country as it is envisaged in both the National Development Plan (NDP) and the New Growth Path (NGP).


The NDP identifies the need to increase the size, coherence and effectiveness of the NSI to enhance South Africa’s ability to compete globally. Hence, the country must enhance its investment in infrastructure, improve the skills base and ensure that it better exploits the knowledge generated from its investments in research and development. The NGP requires infrastructure to support it, and the Department plays a supporting role in various strategic integrated projects (SIPs) that form part of the National Infrastructure Plan. The Department is involved in three of the 18 SIPs; namely, SIP 14 (Higher Education and Infrastructure), SIP 15 (Expanding access to communication technology) and SIP 16 (Square Kilometre Array [SKA] and MeerKAT). In addition, due to the crosscutting nature of science and technology, the work undertaken by the Department contributes to Outcome 2 (a long and healthy life for all South Africans), Outcome 4 (decent employment through inclusive economic growth), Outcome 5 (a skilled and capable workforce to support an inclusive growth path), Outcome 6 (an efficient, competitive and responsive economic infrastructure network), Outcome 7 (vibrant, equitable and sustainable rural communities and food security for all) and Outcome 10 (environmental assets and natural resources that are well protected and continually enhanced).


2.1     Additional policy developments


In addition to the key STI policies outlined above, the Department continues to implement a suite of strategies that seek to enhance the country’s ability to exploit knowledge to secure socio-economic benefit. In the 2013/14 financial year, the following were developed:


·                Bio-economy Strategy – provides guidelines on how to use South Africa’s biological resources and abilities in the biosciences to develop commercial products in the fields of health, agriculture and industry;

·                Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Research, Development and Innovation (RDI) Implementation Roadmap – 10-year implementation plan for the ICT RDI Strategy. It aims to enable increased public and private investment in ICT RDI; and

·                Science Engagement Framework – overarching framework for advancing science promotion and engagement in South Africa and will guide the development of science promotion and engagement initiatives by the Department and its entities.


2.2        Key measurable objectives


The Department’s 2011-2016 Strategic Plan identifies human capital development, global and Africa collaboration, knowledge generation (Research and Development), knowledge exploitation (innovation) and infrastructure development as priority focus areas. The Department’s objectives as outlined in its 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan flows directly from the five-year Strategic Plan. The Strategic Plan indicates that the Department is championing advanced and smaller, traditional sectors of the economy; particularly sectors with a high potential for creating and retaining jobs. As such, the 2013/14 Annual Performance Plan identifies the following as areas that require interventions:


·                Achieve critical mass in a small number of long-term, large-scale and high-impact priority areas that have been identified over the past few years;

·                Ensure that high-level human capital is developed and employed in long-term productive research in South Africa;

·                Introduce and strengthen efforts that enhance South Africa’s ability to exploit knowledge effectively for economic and social benefit;

·                Improve the ability of government investment to leverage private sector and international funding;

·                Build the knowledge-generation and knowledge-exploitation capabilities in rural and historically disadvantaged higher education institutions;

·                Provide and maintain state of the art STI infrastructure;

·                Create a coordinated and integrated NSI governance and robust monitoring and evaluation;

·                Develop and strengthen regional and provincial innovation systems and capabilities to meet community and industry demands;

·                Use the cluster system to facilitate alignment of the Department’s programmes to the NGP, the Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP) and the NDP;

·                Resource the system by achieving and going beyond the 1% General Expenditure on Research and Development (GERD) as a % of GDP; and

·                Strengthen government-industry-higher education partnerships.


3.         Summary of previous key financial and performance recommendations of Committee


The previous Committee’s 2013 BRR Report contained the following recommendations:


·                The Department and entities ensure that they obtain unqualified audits with no material findings.

·                The Department should ensure that performance targets are formulated according to the standards defined by National Treasury and that the necessary communication between the Department and its entities occurs to ensure that targets are aligned.

·                The Department’s commitment to the 5 per cent vacancy rate should have a timeline attached.

·                The Department should finalise the Southern Oceans and Antarctica Framework as a matter of urgency. The Committee expects the Department to provide it with a brief on the completed strategy.

·                The Department should strengthen its relationship with other government departments where there are cross cutting or overlapping mandates to ensure effective implementation of intergovernmental programmes and policies. These relationships are crucial to the success of the NSI.

·                The Department is granted the additional funds it requests, to ensure that continued progress is made against its objectives.


As per the provisions of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, the Committee’s 2013 BRR Report was forwarded to the Ministers of Finance and Science and Technology.


4.         Overview and assessment of financial performance


4.1.      Overview of Vote allocation and spending (2010/11 to 2015/16)


Table 1:       Overview of the Department’s Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) allocation.

Vote 34: Science and Technology















MTEF Estimate








Research, Development and Innovation



1 160.4

1 671.0


1 018.5

International Co-operation and Resources







Human Capital and Knowledge Systems

1 754.1

1 956.3

2 057.0

2 473.2

3 503.8

4 300.1

Socio-Economic Partnerships

1 174.7

1 264.4

1 418.6

1 653.6

1 564.1

1 801.3


4 051.9

4 403.5

4 999.6

6 198.2

6 470.2

7 554.3


The Department focussed its spending on developing STI human capital; the generation and exploration of knowledge; investing in research and development infrastructure; and strengthening regional, continental and international co-operation in STI. Hence, the bulk of the Department’s budget was spent on transfers and subsidies.

As illustrated in table 1 above, the Department was allocated R6.19 billion for the 2013/14 financial year. According to economic classification, the Department would spend 7.3% (R454.1 million) on Current payments (Compensation of employees and Goods and services), 92.6% (R5.74 billion) on Transfers and subsidies and 0.04% (R2.2 million) on Payments for capital assets. The allocation for Transfers and subsidies further comprised R4.17 billion for the Department’s agencies and science councils, R1.03 billion for Public corporations and private enterprises and R532.8 million for Non-profit institutions. In line with the objectives of the Department, most of the budget was allocated to the Programmes that implement core policies, namely, Programmes 2, 4 and 5.


The Department, through its programmes, transferred the following amounts to the entities that report to it (see Table 2 below).



Table 2:            Transfers to Departmental agencies.

Name of Entity







Africa Institute of South Africa

35 237

33 643

Human Sciences Research Council

250 078

217 569

National Research Foundation

2 667 824

1 983 122

Council for Scientific and Industrial Research

781 996

742 752

Technology Innovation Agency

523 081

467 288

South African National Space Agency

172 708

144 120

Academy of Science of South Africa

20 744

13 584


The Department spent R6.16 billion (99.5 per cent) of its allocated budget by the end of the financial year. There was overspending with respect to public corporations and private enterprises of more than 60 per cent of what was allocated after adjustments. The final appropriation for this item was R1.0 billion, but at the end of the financial year over R1.69 billion was spent. The Department spent R27.9 million (0.4 per cent of the total spent budget) on consultants, contractors and agency/outsourced services. The Department spent R4.5 million on external audits but these did not detect the issues identified in supply chain management by the Auditor-General.


Irregular expenditure, which includes amounts from the previous year amounted to R32.8 million (R569 000 and R15.3 million for 2012/13 and R16.9 million for 2013/14). Two transactions accounted for 81 per cent of the total irregular expenditure of R16.9 million for 2013/14, which were for the procurement of travel services (R6.8 million) and the procurement of goods and services without obtaining valid tax clearance certificates (R7 million). These two transactions and others are being investigated.


The Department’s spending against its budget allocation was consistently above 90 per cent from 2009/10 to 2013/14.


4.2.      Auditor General’s Report


The Auditor-General gave the Department an unqualified audit opinion. The audit outcomes of the Department and its entities have generally remained unchanged. The NRF, CSIR, TIA, SANSA, ASSAf and HSRC received unqualified opinions with no findings on predetermined objectives and compliance. The Department and AISA received unqualified opinions with findings on compliance but they managed to resolve their prior year findings on predetermined objectives. The main findings that need to be addressed are:


·                The Department and AISA recorded instances of non-compliance as material adjustments were made to the annual financial statements submitted on 31 May 2014.

·                A number of non-compliance findings in respect to supply chain management were identified at the Department.

·                The Department failed to comply with prescripts relating to compensation of employees as the verification process had not been followed for new appointments.


The overall audit outcomes of these entities have improved when compared to the previous year.


To address the findings of the Auditor-General, the Department has agreed to the following commitments:


·                Monthly monitoring of the dashboard by management and updating the minister on a quarterly basis on the improvement and actions taken to improve on the controls thereof.

·                A checklist to be implemented on the requirements of the supply chain management process, which must be completed with regards to all tenders, quotes and deviations. Internal audit to audit the process to ensure compliance.


4.3.      2015/16 Medium-Term Expenditure Framework financial allocations


Cognisant of the current fiscal strain, the Department submitted its 2015/16 MTEF bid within the following context:


·                The NSI cannot absorb any further cuts in funding without dire consequences;

·                The efficient and effective allocation of resources is critical;

·                The Department could not identify areas where funding could be reprioritised;

·                The Bid submission continues to focus on infrastructure projects; sectoral bids that can stimulate economic growth and support for sister departments; and

·                The Bid submission targets interventions that seek to support and grow technological innovation.


Hence, the funding requests are focussed on the outer years of the current MTEF. Over the MTEF, these include:


·                R1.5 billion for the Bio-economy Strategy,

·                R230 million for the ICT Research, Development and Innovation Roadmap;

·                R209.1 million for NIPMO;

·                R477.5 million for TIA; and

·                Research infrastructure and buildings:

o    R15 million infrastructure for the ICT RDI Roadmap;

o    R168.6 million for general-purpose research infrastructure for entities, for example, laboratories at the CSIR and SANSA, and a data management centre and survey equipment for the HSRC;

o    Buildings – R54.4 million for the completion of the Department’s building, R8 million for a building for ASSAf, and R67.6 million for critical upgrades to the HSRC Building.


However, National Treasury has informed the Department that it intends to reduce it baseline allocation as follows (see Table 3 below):


Table 3:            Possible reductions to the Department’s baseline allocations.



2014/15 Budget

2015/16 Cut

2016/17 Cut


283 818

11 238

3 321

Goods and Services

202 905

9 000

12 368

Transfers – NRF, SKA, R&D infrastructure and local manufacturing capacity

5 981 158

36 656

36 835


5.         Overview of service delivery performance


5.1.      Service delivery performance for 2013/14


Overall, the Department achieved 44 of its 57 targets (77 per cent), which is an improvement of 6 per cent from the previous financial year (achieved 47 of its 66 targets - 71 per cent). Nine targets (16 per cent) were partly achieved and four targets (7 per cent) were not achieved. Key achievements for the Department include:


·                Supporting 9 771 honours, masters and doctoral students through the NRF, which is 1 392 more students than last year (2012/13);

·                Placing 840 interns in funded work preparation programmes in science, engineering and technology institutions, 711 were placed in the previous year;

·                Supporting 3 569 researchers with research grants, which is 493 more researchers than in 2012/13;

·                Awarding 61 infrastructural grants to the research community, 53 were awarded in 2012/13;

·                Creating five new Centres of Excellence (CoEs);

·                Announcing four new research chairs, bringing the total number of research chairs to 137;

·                Hosting the first Science, Technology and Innovation Summit in order to discuss a focused, aligned and competitive system of R&D in the country; and

·                Offices of Technology Transfer (OTTs) have currently been established in about 30 publicly financed R&D institutions and over 250 disclosures were made in 2013/14.


Programme 1: Administration


The purpose of Programme 1 is to conduct the overall management and administration of the Department, to ensure that organisations funded by the Department comply with good governance standards and to ensure that their activities are aligned with the strategic focus of the NSI. For the first time in 2013/14, this Programme had set targets. The Department achieved all its 11 targets. Notable achievements include:


·                Launching a Performance Information Management System (PIMS);

·                Maintaining the vacancy rate at 6 per cent; and

·                Finalising the fraud risk profile and putting in place an annual fraud prevention and detection plan.


Programme 2: Research, Development and Innovation


The purpose of Programme 2 is to facilitate knowledge generation and exploitation through R&D in key priority areas, namely space science, biotechnology, health and energy. The Programme also facilitates the development of innovative products and services, and their commercialisation where appropriate. Of the 13 set targets, five were achieved, five were partly achieved, and three were not achieved. The National Treasury views partly achieved targets as not achieved. Therefore, only 38 per cent of the targets were achieved and 62 per cent were not achieved. Notable achievements include:


·                Clinical trials for the new, locally developed malaria drug candidate started;

·                A South Africa-led publication of the Eucalyptus genome in the prestigious science journal Nature;

·                Four MeerKAT radio satellite dishes were meant to be designed and installed by 31 March 2014. However, all four were designed, but only one was installed. It is stated in the Annual Report that the other three will be installed by June 2014;

·                Fifty-eight products were developed through funding support from TIA for commercialisation and three were commercialised;

·                TIA supported 37 new technology-based products in 2013/14;

·                The Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) has developed Coalgae™, a potential competitor for coal;

·                Photovoltaic Technology Intellectual Property (PTiP) together with Singulus Technologies AG (a German engineering firm) established a demonstration plant at Technopark in Stellenbosch for the production and marketing of a thin-film solar module that provides an effective way to convert solar energy into electricity;

·                The National Intellectual Property Management Office (NIPMO) is now a special service delivery unit (SSDU) within the Department; and

·                NIPMO supported about 10 Offices of Technology Transfer (OTTs) in 2013/14 alone.


The TIA and SANSA are funded from Programme 2. The TIA is mandated to stimulate and intensify technological innovation and achieved 24 of its 29 (83 per cent) targets. The SANSA is mandated to promote and foster research in space science and engineering and achieved 28 of its 33 (85 per cent) targets.


Programme 3: International Co-operation and Resources


Programme 3 is responsible for positioning the Department and South Africa as a strategic international partner with respect to STI cooperation, both bilateral and multilateral contexts, and increasingly with respect to multinational corporations. The Programme guides the Department’s international activities in order to support national imperatives such as the Medium Term Strategic Framework. This Programme reported accurately in line with the Annual Performance Plan, and met all four of its targets. Notable achievements include:


·                The first meeting of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) STI Ministers was held in South Africa in February 2014 to discuss multilateral cooperation;

·                Bilateral relations with the United Kingdom (UK) and the United States of America (USA) were boosted;

·                New partnerships with Finland, Sweden and Norway were established around the issues of innovation;

·                Co-operation initiatives with Switzerland, Argentina, Jamaica and the Republic of Korea offered new opportunities for South African scientists;

·                The Department strengthened ties around the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project with African counterparts, including Ghana, Kenya, Zambia, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Mauritius and Madagascar;

·                The Department invested in regional science programmes within the Southern African Development Community (SADC); and

·                The Department leveraged R250 million in direct foreign investment.


The AISA achieved 34 of its 47 (72 per cent) targets. From 2014/15, AISA is a research unit within the HSRC. Hence, the 2013/14 Annual Report is its final Annual Report as an individual statutory body.


Programme 4: Human Capital and Knowledge Systems


Programme 4 provides leadership in ensuring that South Africa’s research base is maintained, strengthened and grown in order that it may contribute to the modernisation and development of a knowledge-based economy. Of the 15 set targets, 12 were achieved, two were partly achieved and one was not achieved. Therefore, 80 per cent of targets were achieved. Notable achievements include:


·                Fifty-four research chairs were awarded, bringing the total 137;

·                Five new Centres of Excellence were established;

·                A science promotion and engagement mandate has been incorporated within the South African Agency for Science and Technology Advancement (SAASTA) directorate of the NRF;

·                The South African Research Infrastructure Roadmap Report was approved and 17 pieces of research infrastructure were identified;

·                The National Recordal System (NRS) and the Indigenous Knowledge System (IKS) Bioprospecting and product development consortium were launched;

·                The Office of Technology Transfer (OTT) at Pretoria filed a patent application under the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) for a local plant extract with anti-TB bioactivity;

·                The University of Kwazulu-Natal (UKZN) approved an IKS policy for the university; and

·                An NRF/DST IKS Centre was established between UKZN, the University of the North West, the University of Venda, the University of Limpopo and the University of South Africa.


The NRF is mandated to support and promote research through funding, human capital development and the provision of research facilities. It showed good progress against performance targets for its funding activities and towards the achievements of its Vision 2015 goals.


The ASSAf has a dual mandate in that it is a honourific entity and through the expertise of its members, provides evidence-based science advice in support of policy development and decision-making on issues of national significance. The ASSAf selected 32 new members in the year under review and now have 423 members (of these, 24 per cent are women and 27 per cent are black). Within each of its programmes, ASSAf reported on a range of activities that it successfully undertook to further its mandate. From 2014/15, ASSAf will report on specific performance targets.


Programme 5: Socio-Economic Partnerships


Programme 5 enhances the growth and development priorities of government through targeted science and technology interventions and the development of strategic partnerships with other government departments, industry, research institutions and communities. Of the 14 set targets, 12 were achieved and two were partly achieved. Therefore, it achieved 77 per cent of its targets. Notable achievements include:


·                Establishing an Industry Innovation Partnership (IPP) programme,

·                Establishing a Sector Innovation Fund (SIF) programme,

·                Supporting Regional Innovation forums in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State, Gauteng and Kwazulu-Natal;

·                Conducting a Waste Sector Survey for South Africa;

·                Launching the Fluorination Pilot Plant;

·                Launching the Semi-continuous pilot plant for the production of titanium powder;

·                Providing 84 Technology Assistance Packages qualifying local manufacturing companies;

·                Supporting 1 904 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) through the Technology Stations Programme; and

·                Approving a new Rock Innovation Programme for mining and geosciences R&D.


The HSRC conducts research that serves the public, contributes towards good governance and public service delivery and helps address challenges of poverty and inequality. It achieved 26 of its 36 (72 per cent) targets.


The CSIR contributes to the improvement of the quality of life of all South Africans by engaging in multi-disciplinary research and technological innovation. It achieved 12 of its 16 (75 percent) targets.


6.         Finance and Service delivery performance assessment


The Department is not a service delivery department, per se, and setting targets that appropriately reflect the nature of scientific endeavour is not always easy.


The Department has consistently demonstrated that it can spend, to a great degree, its budget allocation according to spending targets. However, even though the Department has proven that, it can spend its budget; this is not quite matched in achievement of its performance targets. The three priority domains of the Department are research and development, human capital development, and infrastructure. In all these domains the Department and its entities has shown steady progress, as reflected in table 4 below.


Table 4:            Expenditure versus performance targets achieved.

Vote 34: Department of Science and Technology








% (Over)/Under


% Targets






% (Over)/Under


% Targets



258 926

257 471



226 372

225 270



Research, Development and Innovation

1 671 041

1 669 678



1 160 383

1 156 845



International Cooperation and Resources

141 430

139 783



137 240

136 518



Human Capital and Knowledge systems

2 473 172

2 462 720



2 057 033

2 038 955



Socio-Economic Partnerships

1 653 586

1 639 837



1 418 582

1 415 727




6 198 155

6 169 489



4 999 610

4 973 315




However, given its resources, the rate of progress within these priority domains may not be at the desired level. Furthermore, the biggest threat to the objectives of the Department is the poor mathematics and science performance by South African scholars and the low throughput rate to postgraduate study. In response to the latter, the NRF has commissioned an investigation into why fewer black students continue through to postgraduate level. The results of which will hopefully inform future policy geared to transforming the science and technology sector of South Africa.


The recent Management Performance Assessment Tool (MPAT) report of the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation in the Presidency identified the Department as being the second best managed national department.


The Committee is satisfied, therefore, with the performance of the Department and is of the view that greater impact can be achieved with the allocation of additional resources, particularly for human capital development, research and development to increase the knowledge generation capacity of the system and for the provision and maintenance of research infrastructure.




·                The Committee expressed their general satisfaction with the entities’ operations, plans and achievements. They acknowledged that the Department and its entities have an important role to play in facilitating the development of cutting-edge science and technology capabilities in the country.


·                The Committee noted some of the challenges highlighted by the Auditor-General, which included the failure to comply with the supply chain management policy and deviating from the human resources policy with regard to the appointment of new staff. The Committee further noted that there had been a regression since the Department’s audit report of the previous year on some of the same matters. The Committee encourages the Department to address and correct these challenges.


·                Parliamentary grants were inadequate to fulfil the total funding requirements of the Department and its entities. The Department and each of the entities have a unique role to play in giving impetus to and delivering on government’s national priorities, especially to provide the technological solutions needed to advance economic development and enhance the lives of all South Africans. The Committee would; therefore, welcome and support any additional funding allocation from the National Treasury.


·                Specific initiatives, such as NIPMO, is notably underfunded and the budget allocation for this office will have to be increased.


·                The Committee noted the importance of the SKA and MeerKAT projects. It was further noted that the deadlines for erecting some of the dishes were not met. The Committee undertakes to monitor the achievement of the performance targets set for this project to ensure its national and international success.


·                The Committee noted the challenges regarding the R&D Tax Incentive Initiative and that it may not have had the desired effect in stimulating private sector investment in R&D. The Committee encourages the strengthening of relations between government and the private sector. The Committee also advises that the Department and the South African Revenue Service (SARS) work together to improve how the incentive is communicated and administered.


·                The Committee noted that currently there is less than one percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) spent on R&D. For the country to reach its economic goals, reaching the target of 1.5 percent of GDP spent on R&D will have to be accelerated. It is therefore important to increase steadily the funding allocation of the Department and its entities in an attempt to meet the objective of the 1.5 per cent target in the medium term.


·                The Committee found that the baseline funding allocations to the Department and its entities marginally increased, which makes entities reliant on contract funding. The Committee cautioned that such a dependency might compromise government’s agenda for science and technology and its contribution to deliver on national priorities. This below inflation funding increases restricts entities to deliver merely on their mandates, often at the expense of building and infrastructure investment.


·                The Committee appreciates that TIA is central to the development of science and technology enterprises and that it is intended to bridge the innovation chasm. It therefore acknowledges and commends TIA on addressing and rectifying the challenges it has faced in the past. The Committee will focus its efforts on monitoring TIA’s work very closely and to engage when necessary, in order for TIA to meet its targeted objectives.


·                The Committee viewed intergovernmental collaborative partnerships as instrumental in ensuring the work done by the Department and its entities were used and implemented. Enhanced co-ordination is necessary at Executive as well as Parliamentary level amongst the various portfolio and select committees in instances where science and technology issues are transversal.


·         Projects such as Operation Phakisa, the ocean economy plan, and the Project Management Office for the African Union Presidential Infrastructure Championing Initiative have immense potential for the development of science and scientists. This could mean the expansion of certain scientific areas, which will need additional funding.


7.1.      Further observations


·                The Committee noted the recommendations of the Ministerial Committee to Review the STI Landscape to elevate the importance of science and technology. Hence, the Committee will request the Department to provide a report on which recommendations are being considered and implemented by the Department, with special reference to recommendations 1, 2 and 3.


·                The Committee views science, technology and innovation as an integral part of the transformation agenda of South Africa. The investment in science, technology and innovation prior to our democracy was skewed towards favouring the minority and was not geared towards broader societal and social transformation and upliftment.


·                The Committee recognizes that South Africa will likely remain mired in poverty unless we drastically change the reach of science, technology and innovation and do what other developing and developed countries have done to achieve sustainable growth: that is, to incorporate science, technology and innovation into their economic strategies. This sentiment is also highlighted in government’s National Development Plan.


·                To sharpen its innovative edge and to contribute in a meaningful way to global scientific and technological advancement, greater investment in research and development cannot be over-emphasized.


·                Notably, we will have to increase our investment in existing science infrastructure, our allocation to science councils and entities that facilitate innovation and forge better cooperation between public science and technology institutions and the private sector.


·                Not only is cooperation with the private sector important, government will have to find better ways of cooperation amongst various government departments with similar cross-cutting or overlapping mandates to ensure effective implementation of intergovernmental programmes and policies. These relationships are crucial to the success of the NSI. The Committee encourages the Department’s collaboration with the departments of basic and higher education. Resources needs to be targeted towards building the research infrastructure required by a modern economy. The Committee views the initiative to produce 100 PhD’s per million persons by 2030 as a collaborative effort.


·                Efforts should significantly increase to promote the science sector, the Department and its entities as well as showcasing its brilliance and contribution to societal transformation Research capacity and innovations are mostly centred at universities and science institutions. Outputs emanating from local, world-class science and technology endeavour are not celebrated sufficiently. We have to explore better ways of improving science and technology education and communication to share and promote our science with all citizens of our country.


·                It is further important to improve the general population’s science literacy, so that people are able to differentiate between scientific knowledge and other belief systems. It is further necessary for science advancement initiatives to extend well into the rural areas.


·                It has become increasingly important as a country with limited resources and simultaneously operating in a globally competitive environment, to find ways and means of working together when innovating new products and services.


8.         CONCLUSION


·                The Committee, having assessed the work of the Department through the annual report as well as its expenditure patterns through the year, commended it for attaining an unqualified audit opinion in the 2013/14 financial year, achieving 77 per cent of its performance targets and for spending 99.5 per cent of its budget.


·                The Committee commended the Department for developing and implementing programmes to enhance the country’s science and innovation system.


·                The annual report briefings by the Department and its entities indicated that there was concerted effort and progress towards delivering in key priority areas for social and economic development.


·                The Committee has and will continue to, through the processes available to it, ensure that the Department remains accountable and fully implements its mandate as informed by broader government policy.




The Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology recommends the following:


·                That the Department and its entities make concerted efforts to correct the shortcomings as highlighted by the Auditor-General contained in its annual reports.


·                For the Department to continue playing a meaningful role in contributing to equitable economic growth and development and that the proposed budget cuts by the National Treasury should be reviewed with the possibility of it not being effected.


·                That the overall allocation for science and technology should be increased.


·                That the Minister of Science and Technology facilitates discussions to encourage government to prioritise its commitment towards allocating 1.5 per cent of GDP to investment in R&D.



Report to be considered.