Hon Chairperson, hon Minister, Members of this august House,
bantu bekhethu be Sewula Afrika, lotjhani.
Hon Chairperson, it's an honour for me to table the report of the Joint Standing Committee on Financial Management of Parliament for 2018-19 Annual Report of Parliament of the Republic of South Africa in this august House. The Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, the committee, is established as per the provision of the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act No 10 of 2009. It is further established in terms of the Joint Rules of the Parliament, the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act.
The Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act mandates the committee to, amongst others, consider the Annual Report of the Parliament. Indeed, hon Chair, the committee has
fulfilled the afore-said mandate by considering the annual report of the Parliament for the 2018-19 financial year and reports as follows: Chair, let me start by welcoming the unqualified outcomes with no material findings, which the Parliament has sustained for the past five years since 2013-14 financial year.
This clean audit is accompanied by nonincurring of material irregularities, which are, irregular expenditure, wasteful and fruitless expenditure, unauthorised expenditure as indicated. In essence, hon Chairperson, it means for the entire Fifth Parliament, finances of Parliament were managed prudently. I hope that the current executive authority will continue with this sterling performance.
Hon Chairperson and members, for the 2018-19 financial year, the Parliament has managed to hold the executive accountable as required by the Constitution of our country. In this regard, a total of 4,861 questions was put to the executive in the National Assembly, of which 3,715 were written and 433 were oral questions. For this House, the NCOP, 713 questions were put to the executive, of which 540 were written and 173 were oral.
Furthermore, about 1,507 meetings were held by the Committees of Parliament, and they were accompanied by 37 oversight visits conducted throughout the 2018-19 financial year. To achieve its constitutional mandate of passing laws, for the 2018-19 financial year, a total of 47 Bills was considered by both Houses of Parliament and total of 18 were assented to by the President.
These include, legislations such as the Public Audit
Amendment Act, which gives Auditor-General greater powers to act against financial management and misconduct to the Auditor-General, and the Political Party Funding Bill, which aims to regulate both the public and private funding. Hon Chairperson, you will recall that in the previous term, one of the biggest criticisms of Parliament's public participation process was that it lacked a feedback mechanism and that previously identified challenges were merely revisited.
A noteworthy change in how Taking Parliament to the People was conducted in the 2018-19 financial period showed a proper response to such criticism, as we are going to be taking Parliament to the people, we are responding to that criticism. We will shortly be doing a feedback or respond. The Parliament focused on following up
on its commitments, for example, Taking Parliament to the People in Free State Province in 2018.
Numerous sites and projects were visited by a multidisciplinary delegation in order to assess progress on previous issues identified and commitments made during the 2017 Taking Parliament to the People visit. One of the key outcomes was the progress in addressing the challenges previously identified at the Pelonomi Tertiary Hospital in Managaung. Hon Chairperson and members, in the process of execution of its mandate in the 2018-19 financial year, the Parliament has identified some challenges, which have a potential to cripple its proper functioning.
In the main, key committee activities it dealt with, which are, parliamentary inquiry into Eskom and extensive public hearings conducted by the Constitutional Review Committee on the issue of the appropriation of land posed to require a new set of skills related to forensic investigation, and an increased resource to accommodate the volume of information to be processed, analysed and considered. Therefore, it calls for human and financial resource consideration going forward.
Hon Chairperson and members, on this issue, the ANC has agreed to invoke its resolution of the 54th Conference to deal with this challenge, the resolution which calls to conduct an assessment to establish whether the legislative sector is appropriately configured, adequately resourced and optimally functioning. Further, the committee noted with concerns the deficit reported in the financial performance of the Parliament for 2018-19 financial year.
This deficit was accompanied by the reduction in cash and cash equivalents, decreasing from R282,311 million in 2017-18 to R148,145 million in 2018-19 financial year. Thus, it is clear that the afore-said deficit was financed through reserves. The reduction in the reserves is a matter of extreme concern to the committee given the fact that, the Public benefit organisation, PBO, and Oil Industry Safety Directorate, OISD, offices, were not funded through the fiscus, but are funded through these reserves which are depleting.
This is an element, which may impact the future functioning of these two critical offices, and hence thereof, hon members, the Parliament. Hon Chairperson and members, even this challenge can be well addressed by ensuring that the ANC implements its 54th resolution, in particular, the one I mentioned above. In concluding,
hon Chairperson, an effective and capable Parliament, which is the best run and ensuring that the principle of economy, efficiency and effectiveness are at the epicentre of any decision making whenever resources are procured and used, as enshrined in Chapter 10 of the Constitution of the Republic of