Stats SA vows to continue engaging with Tito Mboweni over funds shortage

Stats SA vows to continue engaging with Tito Mboweni over funds shortage

Johannesburg - When Finance Minister Tito Mboweni delivers his budget speech on Wednesday, Statistics South Africa's officials will not hold their breath for an allocation that wows them. 

All indications were that Stats SA will kick off the financial year in April with a budget that is inadequate, Statistician-General Risenga Maluleke told journalists in Pretoria on Tuesday. 

It emerged earlier this month that the national statistical agency was battling financial constraints that left the company with a dire staff shortage. 

Members of the Stats SA council, an advisory body that endorses the data released to the public, threatened to resign if the government failed to avail the agency adequate funds and unfreeze posts. 

Maluleke said the agency presented its case to Mboweni, but Maluleke understood that the allocations to be announced on Wednesday won't be enough. 

"Stats SA, like any government department, continued to ask and we did get some amounts for the next financial year, which I would rather not communicate about at this stage," said Maluleke. 

"But certainly such amounts kicking off from the 1st of April would not be enough to address the issue of staff shortages at Stats SA as well as addressing programmes that we want to address, amongst those is the incoming expenditure survey which assists us to know the levels of poverty. 

"Certainly when the budget speech is delivered, we wouldn't expect Stats SA to be the centre of attention." 

But engagements with Mboweni will be ongoing after the budget speech, said Maluleke. 

A meeting held last Sunday with Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu resulted in a decision to hold off possible resignations by council members. 

"Following our meeting on Sunday between the Minister, the statistics council as well as (myself), we have agreed that council will continue to remain in place while these challenges are being addressed," said Maluleke. 

He assured the public that the agency will not release any data deemed to be of poor quality. 

"Having said so, no statistics that we will make in public will be faced with challenges of poor quality.

"We would be the first ones to decide to withdraw any statistics if we see those risks occurring. 

"This is the tone that council has been upholding that certainly when we can see that there will be challenges in the future, they will not be in a position to support official statistics."