Stats SA has budget shortfall, over 600 vacant posts, minister warned

A budget shortfall at Statistics South Africa could have a negative impact on the quality of official statistics for the country, Parliament has warned.

In a statement issued by Parliament, the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration said its chair Hubert James had raised its concerns in a letter to Minister in the Presidency Jackson Mthembu, warning that budget cuts "place the quality of basic statistics at risk and compromises the ability of the government to plan for the future".

"Budget shortfalls experienced are at an alarming state, rendering the department ineffective in producing quality official statistics for the country.

"Moreover, discontinuation of crucial statistical series such as the Poverty and Living Conditions Surveys and Quarterly Labour Force Surveys, to mention a few, affects the generation of crucial information towards proper planning," said James.

According to the committee, Stats SA has a vacancy rate of 17.2%, with over 600 posts vacant at the end of March 2019.

The entity has not made any new appointments since 2016, apart from appointing statistician-general Risenga Maluleke in November 2017. This is due to the Compensation of Employees Bill not being adequately funded, the committee said.

James urged the minister to escalate the matter to the president before the mini-budget on 30 October, the committee said.

Stats SA is the country's national statistical service. It is tasked with performing the country's censuses, as well as various demographic and economic surveys. According to its website, its mission is to "lead and partner in statistical systems for evidence-based decisions". 

- Compiled by Marelise van der Merwe