The Deputy Minister and Department of Economic Development outlined the New Growth Path Plan and its implications for the Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Water Affairs. The overriding goal of the plan was job creation and training, to increase the level of skill for the people and to ensure that such training and education would lead to being employed. The eradication of poverty would also need all the effort and resources. Going towards the goal would require looking at job drivers in terms of existing industries and the new economies such as the green economy, the knowledge economy and social capital. It would also be important to put in place a regulatory framework and ensure the availability of resources to realise the plan. The Department highlighted the spin-offs from climate change and the need to look at the opportunities the global challenge presented. It urged the Department of Water Affairs to consider the infrastructure implications and needs such as the increase in water and electricity demand in implementing the plan.
Members highlighted issues around the long turn around time for environmental impact assessments (EIAs) citing examples from the public. At the same time that the concern was on the long processing period, they cautioned not to risk speeding up the process at the expense of neglecting aspects needing to be attended to in such a fragile process. The Department of Environmental Affairs was advised to increase efforts to integrate the environment into all areas and not to treat it as separate but to really see the economy as a subsection of the environment and not the other way round. Concerns were raised over the lack of coordinating mechanisms on cross cutting issues and the need for protocols to be established to ensure successful coordination and implementation of the New Growth Path Plan. Some Members were sceptical about the plans to improve infrastructure in poor areas such as the
Members also urged the Department to put in place means to reverse the situation of South Africa’s exporting raw materials to China make steel which South Africa subsequently imported. The link between training, education and employment was also discussed with Members asking for the reinstatement of vocational institutions that trained artisans.
The Department of Environmental Affairs and the Department of Water Affairs were requested to really look at the plan in detail and to put in their plans how they would roll out job creation and how they could improve the regulatory environment conducive to the implementation of the New Growth Path Plan.
Chairperson’s opening remarks
The Chairperson welcomed the Deputy Minister for Economic Development, the Hon. Enoch Godongwana, who would deliver the presentation. He announced that the Department had been engaged already to appear before the Committee in the coming week to brief the Committee on the Green Paper on Climate Change. Scientists from the
The Chairperson also welcomed a delegation from the Indian Parliament which was visiting
The Chairperson remarked that the New Growth Path prioritised job creation which was emphasised in the Presidential Speech. He challenged the two Departments falling under the Committee to put forth plans on how to make the new plan a reality. He referred to the Department of Water Affairs infrastructure budget that had doubled from the previous year to the current year and asked how that could be translated into job creation.
Department of Economic Development (EDD): Briefing
The Deputy Minister for Economic Development remarked that 2011 had been declared the year of job creation and that it was important for all Government Departments to be in line with the priority in order to respond to the problems of unemployment and distribution of income.
He said that the New Growth Path was trying to turn the challenges around into opportunities as they were part of the same thing. The approach was to identify the key job drivers and what would be needed to create jobs and investment, facilitating broader growth in the private sector as well. He referred to the wide misconception that Government needed to create all the jobs saying that Government’s role was to facilitate all sectors to create jobs. The job drivers identified in the New Growth Plan included: Infrastructure, Main Economic Sectors – Agriculture, Agro-processing, Mining and Beneficiation; Manufacturing, and Tourism. There were also opportunities in the New Economies namely the Green Economy, Knowledge Economy and Social Capital. He compared
The Deputy Minister concluded that
The Chairperson related an encounter he had with a business man trying to open a fish bone meal factory in the West Coast whose efforts were hindered by the EIA which he said was taking up to one and a half years. He urged the Departments under the supervision of the Committee that they needed to look at the presentation slide by slide and see how they would fit in with their plans especially in the area of job creation. He pointed out that one of the problems in the work of Government on cross cutting issues was that there were no protocols on how the different Departments could work together and suggested that perhaps one needed to be developed, to be approved by Cabinet. He asked the Departments to look at the New Growth Plan in three major areas: regulatory framework – developing the protocol to work on cross cutting issues; address the backlogs, for example, to count the cost of not having water, for example, in a certain area or roads; and actual jobs in that if the infrastructure budget was doubled, how would that affect job creation in the next three years. He urged the Departments to work closely and keep in touch with the Department of Economic Development in order to open up the bottleneck that existed.
Mr G Morgan (DA) was concerned about the separation of the environment from the economy instead of integrating it into all areas of society. He pushed for the integration of all things to do with the environment as the link was crucial that what was good for the environment was good for the economy. The environment could also be a barrier in economic growth as in the case of
Mr P Mathebe (ANC) asked if there was a unit that would enforce compliance by all Government Departments. He also referred to the example of
Mr L Greyling (ID) agreed with Mr Morgan and said that a mindset change was needed in order for the economy to be seen as a subset of the environment and not the other way round and that in order to have sustainable growth, it was also important to look at the resources above the ground. He urged the Department to look at energy efficiency and how to maximise energy savings. The plan also needed to take into account peak oil as a trip switch which seemed to be repeating pushing up the prices of food and the cost of living.
Mr J Skosana (ANC) asked to unpack the relationship with
Ms H Ndude (COPE) remarked that
The Deputy Minister admitted that he was a sceptical environmentalist as he felt that what confused the debate on the green economy was a matter of definition and they were really not apart. He said most of the issues raised would contribute towards improving the plan. He agreed to suggestions to strengthen and enforce management and coordination of the plan. He assured the Members that the strategy for processing minerals was something the Department treated as a priority. He thanked the Members for all the useful comments that would be used to improve the plan.
The Chairperson said that the worst thing that happened in Government was not making decisions and those who shied away from making decisions caused progress to stagnate. He said sometimes the environment was blamed for being an obstacle but it was really the systems and mechanisms that were not in place that created the problems. He emphasised again to the Minister that the challenge for the plan was coordination of the different sectors that needed to work together on the plan. He indicated that perhaps by August, the Department would make another presentation on the progress of implementation.
The Chairperson informed the Members that the Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs, had spoken to him giving an update of the presentation and given her apologies as she had to go to another engagement.
Department of Water Affairs: briefing.
Mr Trevor Balzer, Director General, Department of Water Affairs (DWA) delivered the Department’s response to the New Growth Path Plan. She said that the Department had already started to analyze its role in the growth path but would not do detailed presentations and the Department had already given its report to the Director General, Department of Economic Development, who had added that the EDD would be looking at job creation in the areas of reticulation of infrastructure. He said that he has made note of the three key areas recommended by the Chairperson and would get the Department to work on them. He admitted that water use licenses were problematic for the Department but there was a team back in the office working on plans on dealing with waters license and backlogs.
The Chairperson thanked the Director General for the report and said that the Department would be called in again for another presentation sometime in June. He urged the Department to hold regular meetings with the DED in moving the plan forward.
The Chairperson told the Director General that Dr Cornelius Ruiters of the Department of Water Affairs was given the task in the previous meeting to inform Members what money had been invested in infrastructure in the old Bantustans such as the
Mr Skosana asked about the working relationship between the National Department and the Provincial Department saying that the Provincial was currently implementing the will of the National Department and not necessarily attending to provincial challenges and needs.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) remarked that she would be very happy to see results of building infrastructure in areas such as the
Mr Morgan wanted to be convinced that there was enough water in
Mr Mathebe asked the Department to look at some of the projects in the
Ms P Bhengu (ANC) asked the Department to include the role of municipalities around water issues in the reports.
The Chairperson announced that he had to leave at about 12h55 for an official meeting and apologized to the Departments for not giving them the platform they needed due to the lengthy discussions, but assured them that they would receive a much longer time with the Committee in June and, by then, there would have also been progress with their plans.
Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA): briefing
Ms Nora Nteo, Chief Director: Coordination and Information Management, DEA, said the Department coordinated the National Green Economy work and worked closely with the relevant departments on such issues. The DEA had identified the programmes needed and had also gone out to see how people were doing. The DEA had received 154 proposals for projects that needed funding and the Department had assessed and identified funding streams. The DEA also wanted to upscale existing initiatives in order to ensure the protection of the environment.
The Chairperson remarked that the Department of Environmental Affairs had a very complicated policy structure and did a lot of implementation through provinces. He requested the Department to look into what mechanisms existed to harmonise the work with the provinces especially in the implementation of the EIAs. He said that there should be a central place where all the information was collected even if implementation happened in many different places.
Mr Morgan referred to his earlier point about the environment being treated separately and asked the Department to try to ensure that the green matters were integrated into everything so that people did not hold the notion that environment and green meant only the DEA but referred to everyone.
The Chairperson apologised to the Departments for the short time frame they were given to make their presentations and said that it was important for all to listen to the Department of Economic Development in order for all to see what it wanted to do. He said that if elections were in May, then there would be a chance that they would meet again in June, preferably for a whole day, to go over the Departmental plans. It was important for the DEA to look at how the Department operated so that it dealt with much more than creating jobs and it also needed to look at what obstacles the Department created affecting growth. If the DEA was carrying the burden of the regulatory framework and EIAs were taking too long, then it was not a fair race.
The Chairperson urged the DWA to look at its leadership, budget and extra spending and that both Departments needed to rethink such issues. In June, when there will be further engagements, the Committee and the Departments would need to look at how to create a favourable environment in which to operate. He reminded the Committee again that the green papers would be presented in the coming week and that Members would not be sitting on Friday.
The meeting was adjourned.
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