The Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) briefed the Committee on a number of issues related to the performance of the Department.
The first briefing looked at the audit outcomes of DEA for the financial year that ended March 2012. The presentation began by looking at the entities of the department and its programmes, top priority areas and goals. The rest of the presentation covered the key achievements and challenges of the six programmes, namely, administration, environmental quality protection, the South African Weather Service (SAWS), climate change, biodiversity and conservation (SANPArks, SANBI, iSimangaliso) and sector services, environmental awareness and international.
The briefing by the Auditor-General (AG) of South Africa looked at the movement in audit outcomes, focus areas, drivers of internal control, predetermined objectives, compliance, irregular expenditure and root cases.
Key achievements of SAWS had been the climate change adaptation application, particularly the South African Flash Flood Guidance (SAFFG) System with the addition of a hydro estimator, the Operational Severe Weather Warning System for South Africa – results had shown an overall satisfaction of 76% -- a new satellite-based precipitation estimation technique, which used three MSG satellite channels to enable heavy rain and flash flooding warnings to be issued with high confidence, and a 72% improved accuracy of maximum temperature and 24-hour forecasts.
At SANParks, a key achievement had been the clean audit for 2011/2012. A total of 4 705 306 people had visited its facilities, including 389 624 black South African visitors. Progress had been made in the implementation of the Listed Species Management Programme, the Cultural Heritage Programme, and the Listed Species Management Programme. It was suggested that SANParks should be more aggressive on getting more land for conservation. Conservation should not just be a “white” thing. Interest in conservation needed to be increased among black communities. Challenges included declining tourism revenue streams due to the recent global economic down turn and natural disasters, such as flooding, ageing infrastructure in parks which had resulted in increased complaints, and the escalating scourge of rhino poaching incidents, particularly in the Kruger National Park. There was also the inadequate re-capitalization of the law enforcement capacity to fight rhino poaching (acquisition of requisite land-based radars, unmanned aerial vehicles and other technologies).
Key achievements of SANBI included the five-yearly National Biodiversity Assessment which had been produced, an additional 20 000 hectares protected, and 92 wetlands rehabilitated. The list of threatened terrestrial ecosystems had been finalized, and a draft list of threatened river ecosystems had been developed. However, there was an over-dependence on donor funding to deliver the mandate, and a national lack of natural scientists and key expertise, such as taxonomists and zoologists.
The Committee raised issues related to assessing targets, overlaps with other departments, enforcement capabilities, management of marine vessels and bursaries.
The second half of the meeting began with a briefing on the Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF), noting the baseline allocations, expanded public sector programmes and additional funding requests for priority areas such as infrastructure investment, science-based priorities and job creation.
Members raised issues related to the working for waste programme, cost of consultants, PPPs for medical waste, irregular expenditure, prioritisation of funding requests and issues of accountability.
The Chairperson asked if the Minister would be available next week to participate in a debate on the Lesotho Highlands Water Project (LHWP) and the Nagoya Protocol. The Committee needed to prepare itself for such a debate. He noted that over the next two weeks, Tuesday to Friday had been provisionally set aside for hearings on the National Water Resource Strategy (NWRS).
He welcomed the Director General, Ms Nosipho Ngcaba.
2011/12 annual report presentation DEA & Public Entities
Ms Ngcaba said the Department’s public entities included South African National Parks (SANParks), South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), iSimangaliso Wetland Park and South African Weather Services (SAWS).
She then outlined the Department’s programmes and their purpose. These were:
• Administration and Support – to provide strategic leadership, centralised administration, executive support, corporate services and facilitate effective cooperative governance, international relations, environmental education and awareness.
• Environmental Quality and Protection – to protect and improve the quality and safety of the environment, to give effect to the right of all South Africans to an environment that was not harmful to health and well-being.
• Oceans and Coasts – to ensure that government, industry and the public were informed, supported and regulated to act responsibly to conserve the ocean and coastal environment as well as to honour South Africa’s local and global obligations.
• Climate change – to promote, coordinate and manage an effective national mitigation and adaptation response to climate change.
• Biodiversity and conservation – to promote the conservation and sustainable use of natural resources, to contribute to economic growth and poverty alleviation.
• Environmental sector programmes and projects – to implement environmental sector projects and assist in job creation.
Ms Ngcaba looked at the top priority areas, which were to support local government (in the areas of air quality, waste management, coastal planning and open-space planning), strengthening compliance and enforcement (rhino poaching and Environmental Impact Assessments [EIAs]), governance systems alignment with Outcome Ten (mining integrated permitting, Environmental Management Frameworks [EMF’s] and land use issues), to draw linkages between climate change, green economy and sustainable development and to focus on key national and international engagements.
She then turned to the goals for the Department for 2011/12 to 2015/16. The first goal was to ensure that environmental assets were conserved, valued, sustainably used, protected and continually enhanced. The second goal was to enhance socio-economic benefits and employment creation for the present and future generations from a healthy environment, while the third goal was to ensure the Department was fully capacitated to deliver its services efficiently and effectively.
Ms Lize McCourt, DEA Chief Operating Officer, dealt with programme one – administration – beginning with the key achievements. The Department had achieved a 11.5% vacancy rate (target: 14%), a 10 .6% turnover rate (14%), a 56% female representativity (56%), a 65% procurement rate on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) enterprises (58%), a10% public awareness and participation in events (5%), a 55% share on media voice (55%), an unqualified 2010/11 audit report and 98% expenditure of its Medium Term Expenditure Framework (MTEF) budget (98%).
The Chairperson was impressed at the number of women employed by the Department.
Ms Ngcaba said she had been invited to a forum on the private sector, where they had aimed to meet the benchmark set by the DEA in their employment of women.
Ms McCourt looked at the key challenges which had been experienced in the initiation of the construction phase for the DEA building, as the phase had been delayed. The outstanding issues had now been resolved and construction would start in the first quarter of 2013. The other challenge was achieving the 2% employment target for people with disabilities. She said the Department had an insufficient pool of relevant skill available, especially in scarce skills categories, but a strategy would be finalised for implementation in 2012/13.
The Chairperson said that it was difficult to assess the targets when the Committee was not part of the process in deciding targets. He noted that the DEA, with the Department of Water, needed to sit down with the Committee and the AG, to assess if targets were justified. He told the Committee to prepare for this. Two days in the beginning of next year would be set aside to deal with these issues during closed meetings. They needed to look at overlaps between the DEA, the Department of Human Settlements and the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA) at local government level, in terms of capacity etc. Preparation for this needed to be made for meaningful engagement. At the moment, things were operating in a vacuum. The only issue from programme one was the building project but it might be better if it did not move too fast.
Mr Ishaam Abader, DEA Deputy DG for Legal, Authorisation and Compliance Inspectorate, looked at programme two which was environmental quality protection. Under the key achievements, he noted that 100% of all complaints/incidents had been received and processed (target: 75%), 252 environmental management inspectors had attended specialized training courses/capacity building interventions (60), 66 officials had been trained in environmental impact management (50) and 60 ambient air monitoring stations were reporting to the SA Air Quality Information System( SAAIQS), against a target of 42.
Key challenges included the fact that only 46 facilities had been inspected, while the target was for 70 inspections. The target could not be met due to financial constraints. 45% of paper and packaging, and 50 % of tyres, had been recycled but the decision by the industry to review the Integrated Waste Management Plans (IWMP) meant the targets were being reviewed and were not yet approved. In terms of the baseline established for the recovery of waste streams, consultation and discussions with industry had required more time than anticipated. Of the processing of environmental authorisations within the timeframe, the target of 89% had not been met. The Department had received a significantly higher number of applications than anticipated, which had put more strain on available resources. The finalisation of the Environmental Assessment and Management Strategy project proposals and the costing of theme one report, had exceeded the anticipated amount of R500 000.
The Chairperson said some targets needed to be added, and reiterated the importance of a meeting with the Committee and the Department to look at the issue of targets.
Mr Abader said the key achievements of SAWS had been the climate change adaptation application, particularly the South African Flash Flood Guidance (SAFFG) System with the addition of a hydro estimator, the Operational Severe Weather Warning System for South Africa – results had shown an overall satisfaction of 76% -- a new satellite-based precipitation estimation technique, which used three MSG satellite channels to enable heavy rain and flash flooding warnings to be issued with high confidence, and a 72% improved accuracy of maximum temperature and 24-hour forecasts. Furthermore, the SAAQIS Phase One had been fully developed and implemented. Stations reporting to the ambient module of Phase 1 of SAAQIS had grown to 150. There had been commendable financial performance in the 2011/12 financial year, despite the 6% (R16m) decrease in the Government Grant Revenue, and SAWS had obtained the ISO 9001:2008 certification. Other achievements included completion of major construction work for the Radar Network Project, SAWS had participated in pre-COP17 activities in various provinces, and had demonstrated the role and relevance of SAWS in terms of weather and climate matters. The launch of the SAWS Alumni Programme, the official opening of the King Shaka Weather office, the awarding of bursaries to beneficiaries from previously disadvantaged backgrounds, recognition of the Meteorological Training Institute of the South African Weather Service as a WMO Regional Training Centre (RTC), and the leadership role of Meteorological Association in South Africa (MASA) Secretariat in the region, were other highlights. Severe Weather Warning road-shows were held in various provinces at municipalities affected by weather hazards.
The key challenge facing SAWS was funding. There had been a decrease in the government grant, and SAWS’ high fixed costs impacted on its ability to commercialise. SAWS had a limited capability to address ‘unstated’ markets that believed everything should be free. International competition came from private weather services that used freely shared data and global models to provide services at marginal costs against which SAWS could not economically compete. In terms of infrastructure recapitalisation, SAWS was unable to maintain infrastructure and keep up with technological advancement and with the extension of its mandate. There was a need to respond increasingly to water management issues, and to focus more on building capacity in hydrometeorology, as well as the need to enhance services to the agricultural sector and build capacity in agrometeorology. A positive contribution to the climate change policy discourse and research development was required, to support additional applications for various sectors, like health.
Mr Monde Mayekiso, DEA DDG for Oceans and Coasts, covered programme three, and stated the key achievements. The Draft Green Paper on oceans management policy had been developed as planned, Draft estuary management protocol had been reviewed and approved by Cabinet, three relief voyages had been undertaken (Marion/Gough/SANAE) as planned, research on international methodology for shark and whale population estimation had been completed, the bi-annual State of the Oceans Report had been compiled and 25 peer review publications had been completed against a target of 23.
The main challenges were the Prince Edward Marine Protected Area (PEI MPA) declaration, where objections had been raised during consultation in relation to the area targeted for declaration. This had led to delays, as additional time had been needed to finalise the process. The needs analysis and system design for the South African ocean and coastal information system specifications had been completed, but the availability of expertise had delayed progress in achieveing the planned annual target.
Mr G Morgan (DA) congratulated the Department on the Green Paper, but questioned the enforcement component. He asked what plans there were to increase the enforcement capabilities, if they were deficient.
Mr Mayekiso said that enforcement was carried out by other agencies and organisations like SanParks. He also said they did not have the capacity to deal with pollution, but said they were looking to increase the enforcement capacity.
The Chairperson wanted to know what enforcement plans were in place, and when they would be completed.
Mr Abader said they were restructuring enforcement under one branch, and the process had started.
Ms Ngcaba added that the Department had appointed two people to start working on an enforcement capacity plan for this area. She said it might not be adequate, but it was a start. She noted there was no budget for this yet, but this would become available in the next financial year.
Mr Morgan asked about the current relationship with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF). He questioned the scientific capacity of the Department currently, apart from what was contracted out.
Ms Ngcaba said a Memorandum of Agreement had been signed, so that DAFF would provide enforcement based on the ships, and some aspects of research. When the ships became dysfunctional, DEA did not receive a service from DAFF.
Mr Mayekiso added that laboratories were shared and DAFF had participated with DEA on an environmental working group, as well as cooperation on international engagements. He said it could never be said that research capacity was adequate, but the Department was getting by.
Mr Morgan wanted clarity on the ship being transferred, and asked if the Department or an outside contractor was running the ship.
Mr Mayekiso said the two Ministers had met in May and agreed the vessel “Algoa” would be transferred. He said at the moment, the vessel was in dry-dock and being managed by the same company managing the SA Agulhus II.
Ms Ngcaba said the ship had been taken voetstoots, as it was. She said DEA thought the Algoa was valuable enough to be saved.
The Chairperson asked if they had a budget to man the vessel.
Ms Ngcaba said they were waiting for the final budget for the Agulhus and Algoa, but it had not been favourably considered by Treasury. She said work was suffering as a result, but the vessels were now part of the assets of the Department.
Ms Judy Beaumont, DEA DDG for Climate Change, dealt with programme four and listed the key achievements. These included the National Climate Change response white paper being approved by Cabinet and gazetted, nine climate change provincial being successfully convened, the Climate Change Response Expo being successfully hosted alongside the COP17 conference, and four climate change sector adaptation plans – biodiversity , water , forestry and agriculture – being finalised.
A challenge had arisen in the initiation of the Long-term Adaptation Scenarios (LTAS) process. The process had been delayed as the LTAS had to be aligned with national policy and further consultations needed to be undertaken.
The Chairperson said sometimes one needed to back down from big plans. In between, he wanted the Department to come back with reports on updates. He said the Committee should change the programme for November to look at the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) Bill once the public submission on the National Water Research Strategy (NWRS) had been completed.
Ms Wadzi Mandivenyi, DEA DDG for Biodiversity and Conservation, looked at programme five. The key achievements were 7.3% of land (target: 6.9%) was under conservation (9 025 of 121 991 200 hectares), five management plans had been finalised as planned, all genetically modified organism (GMO) applications had been assessed for environmental compliance, 1 398 ha of land had been rehabilitated and conserved, and 43 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) applications had been received and evaluated.
Looking specifically at SANParks, a key achievement had been the clean audit for 2011/2012. A total of 4 705 306 people had visited its facilities, including 389 624 black South African visitors. Progress had been made in the implementation of the Listed Species Management Programme, the Cultural Heritage Programme, and the Listed Species Management Programme.
The Chairperson suggested the free access period should be used to promote visits for black people, poor people and people living around the parks, and a system for this needed to be worked out. SANParks should be more aggressive on getting more land for conservation. Conservation should not just be a “white” thing. Interest in conservation needed to be increased among black communities.
Ms Mandivenyi looked at the challenges of SANParks. This included the declining tourism revenue streams due to the recent global economic down turn and natural disasters, such as flooding, ageing infrastructure in parks which had resulted in increased complaints, and the escalating scourge of rhino poaching incidents, particularly in the Kruger National Park. There was also the inadequate re-capitalization of the law enforcement capacity to fight rhino poaching (acquisition of requisite land-based radars, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and other technologies), delays in the formalization of the Greater Lebombo Conservancy with Mozambique to promote conservation safety in the area. The recent budgetary cuts, together with increased mandatory duties, were making it difficult for SANParks to retain a healthy financial position.
Key achievements of SANBI included the five-yearly National Biodiversity Assessment which had been produced, an additional 20 000 hectares protected, and 92 wetlands rehabilitated. The list of threatened terrestrial ecosystems had been finalized, a draft list of threatened river ecosystems had been developed, a draft threatened or protected species (TOPS) list for input into regulations had been developed, and the Biodiversity Management Plan for pelargonium sidoides and Western Leopard Toad had been produced.
Ms Mandivenyi turned to the key challenges of SANBI. There was the over-dependence on donor funding to deliver the mandate, the prioritization of the delivery of the broad mandate process, and a national lack of natural scientists and key expertise, such as taxonomists and zoologists.
The Chairperson asked if bursaries were given on condition that the students came to work for the Department. He felt that bursaries should be structured on these conditions, and added that it created jobs.
Ms Ngcaba said it depended on whether there were posts available for them. Many were taken in as interns.
Mr Abader said sometimes they could be placed in strategic areas such as municipalities.
The Chairperson said it would only be effective if these students worked for the Department, otherwise they were lost to the private sector. He said this explained why many children in the townships had degrees but no jobs. He said he wanted to see the bursary contract, so it could be changed.
Ms Mandivenyi turned to the key achievements of iSimangaliso Wetland Park. Within the period, 18 illegal developments and 93 poaching incidents had been detected, there had been a reduction of 5% in alien invasive plants in the Park, 83 permanent jobs had been maintained during the year, 92 more black small businesses had been created through iSimangaliso programmes, and 45 students had been awarded bursaries for undergraduate study and one for postgraduate study. Visitor numbers had increased to 480 000, with a 9.6% increase in commercial revenue to the Park.
There had been challenges in funding in that there had been delays in the receipt of funds from funders like the national lottery, which had affected the roll-out of programmes such as marine education, arts and crafts. There had been insufficient funds to expand local economic development programmes, such as agricultural gardens/food security programmes, and the economic recession had had an impact on visitor numbers and revenue.
The Chairperson said one of the recommendations should be that the Committee fully supported getting more funding. He said this would result in more tourist facilities and jobs being created. He said things were moving too slowly for his liking. He asked if SANBI was the only entity with financial problems.
Ms Corne Myburgh, Auditor General of South Africa (AGSA) business executive, highlighted the matters of emphasis associated with SANBI, which were material corrections related to their financial statements, plans and buildings.
The Chairperson asked if the AG had sat down with SANBI to look at these issues.
Ms Myburgh said they had, and noted that a new CFO had been appointed. This would make a difference.
Ms McCourt noted there was a lekgotla planned with the entities for 12 November to go through the review, and bilateral discussions would be held with each entity. The meeting with SAMBI would be held on 15 November.
The Chairperson was worried that this had been left for so long. He said he wanted to meet urgently on the SANBI financial problems.
Ms Ngcaba said she could not be held 100% accountable for the decisions made by the boards of the entities.
The Chairperson said all he wanted to know was that the DEA had looked at the plans and were happy with them. He did not mean that the DG had to answer for the decisions made by the boards.
Mr Morgan questioned the budgets for SANParks and iSimangaliso and asked what budgetary requirements were needed to further enforcement. He said the efforts of the entities and the Department had not been good enough to prevent an escalation of rhino poaching.
Ms Ngcaba proposed a follow-up to the workshop on rhino poaching. The Department was involved in a broad consultation process and creating a database that made rhino stockpiles known. The Minister was having a hunting indaba at the end of October to reinforce the options. Important stakeholders, like the European Union (EU), were also involved.
The Chairperson asked when this would be put on the agenda.
Ms Ngcaba said this would be by 2016. In the meantime, as part of the strategy of increasing enforcement, SANParks had obtained equipment like night-vision glasses and bullet-proof vests from the army to increase enforcement.
The Chairperson said at least two members of the opposition and two members of the ANC should be invited to the indaba.
Mr Wills explained there was a lack of consensus among stakeholders on opening up the trade in rhino horn.
The Chairperson said that during the public hearings held by the Committee, the decision was unanimous, with one exception,that the trade in rhino horn should be opened up.
Ms Ngcaba said the Department had the report from a variety of stakeholders who had been consulted.
The Chairperson said that people were entitled to their views, but government had to do what was right. He thought that more progress had been made on this issue.
Mr Morgan asked if more could be done in the areas of compliance and enforcement.
Ms Ngcaba said there was more that could be done.
The Chairperson said a separate input needed to be made on conservation, looking back on its progress over the past five years, particularly in terms of infrastructure, law enforcement and a breakdown of budgets. He said this also needed to be placed in the report of the Committee.
Mr Morgan wanted an update on the progress in coordinating, from a central level, the oversight over the granting of hunting permits for rhinos.
Ms Mandivenyi said they were working on an interim system.
Ms Ngcaba added that premiers were resisting the process of take-overs. She said the Department came in on the verification issues. She said a submission that authorisations be centralised could be opened through MinMec, but for now, the Department was not looking to take over.
Mr G Preston, DEA DDG: Environmental Programmes, turned to programme six, beginning with the key achievements. These included the creation of 65 182 employment opportunities through the Social Responsibility Programmes (SRP) and Natural Resource Management (NRM) projects. A total of 41 476 indigenous trees had been planted and 32 923 households had benefited from collection initiatives led by the Department. The National Strategy on Sustainable Development (NSSD) had been finalised and approved by Cabinet, and 100 environmental education and awareness workshops had been facilitated.
A major challenge was that the NRM programme had been transferred from the Department of Water Affairs in April 2011, and that transition had contributed to delays in the achievement of some of the planned annual targets. There had also been a need to align the work of the programme to departmental processes and to deal with human resource capacity issues.
The Chairperson asked how far the Cabinet was from drafting a position for COP18.
Ms Beaumont said it had been delayed, but it should be within the next cycle or two.
The Chairperson said once this was approved by Cabinet, the Department should brief the Committee on this position in a closed session. He said this should be placed in the report.
Ms Wills said COP18 was critical to cement the progress made in COP17 in Durban.
Audit Outcomes for the Financial Year Ended 31 March 2012
Ms Myburgh noted that most of the entities had achieved a qualified audit, except for SANBI (unqualified) which, on the whole, was a great improvement from 2010/11. SANBI had a number of matters of emphasis.
She briefly looked at the drivers of internal control, saying that the Department rated itself with concern in terms of leadership.
The AG had recommended the Department enhance the status of preparing financial statements and make sure there was a review process involving internal audit.
Ms Myburgh explained the focus areas and predetermined objectives. She noted the Department had improved its levels of compliance. There was also no unauthorised expenditure, but irregular expenditure had been picked up during the audit process.
The Chairperson was concerned about the irregular expenditure.
Ms Ncgaba explained there had been a problem with tax clearance certificates. She had warned the supply chain employees involved, and had handed out written warnings.
Ms Myburgh also brought attention to the cases of wasteful expenditure, regarded as reckless, incurred by SANParks. She explained the root causes in the cases of non-compliance.
The Chairperson said the poor record keeping of SANBI should be noted in the Committee’s report. He also wanted an assurance that SANBI would have plans in place to address these problems. He also wanted it to be the noted the Committee was pleased with the improvement made in the other entities.
Vote 30: Environmental Affairs Portfolio Committee Briefing 2013 MTF
Ms Esther Makau, DEA Chief Financial Officer (CFO) began the presentation by looking at the MTEF 2013 Baseline Allocations, MTEF 2013 additional funding proposals and motivations and MTEF 2013 allocations according to a new programme structure. She noted that when looking at the total baselines, there had been no significant increases.
Ms Makau then dealt with the expanded public sector programmes and noted that the figures presented were ear-marked, and could not just be moved around or used for other purposes. Hereafter, she looked at the additional funding requests for priority areas which were infrastructure investment, science-based priorities and job creation. She listed the additional funding requested until 2016/17 for specific programmes. The authorisation processes for strategic projects were intended to address the identified challenges related to the infrastructural build program.
For the Integrated Permitting System (IPS), the motivation was to develop an electronic on-line system for the mapping of all authorisation processes. The IPS would be designed to accommodate any current and future permitting/licensing/authorisation requirements of the Department and its provincial/local government partners. This would reduce the delivery time of new or enhanced permitting modules.
Ms Makau said under the new Departmental head office, the public-private partnership (PPP) contract for the new building had been signed on 26 June 2012, and construction had commenced in July. Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure over three years (networks and geographic information systems) required R70 million
To fund SANBI, the Department was requesting R69 330 million for 2015/16. For security infrastructure enhancement across SANBI campuses, they had requested R14.5 million, R5.5 million for a long-term ecological research facility, R50.35 million for vehicle replacement across SANBI, R5.49 million for refurbishment of existing infrastructure, R10 million for the new administration building for SANBI located in Kirstenbosch, R10.490 million for community outreach infrastructure and R3 million for the IT infrastructure development programme.
The Chairperson commented that SANBI was asking for the most when its financials were not in a good state.
Ms McCourt responded that they were only requesting money for 2015/16 and thereafter.
Ms Makau said for SANParks, the Department was asking for R16 589, R17 832 and R18 902 million, with emphasis on indigenous forest management in the Garden Route. For iSimangaliso Wetlands Parks Authority, the Department had requested R44 000, R30 000 and R30 000 million for infrastructure development.
For the expansion of the conservation estate, the Department had requested R50 000, R75 000 and R100 000 million to provide for the expansion of ecological sustainability and increased resilience to change, the setting of targets for protected area expansion and the provision of maps and mechanisms.
For SAWS, the Department had requested R36 300, R 24 250 and R48 908 million for the high performance computer system, global atmospheric watch and airborne monitor, infrastructure development, a preventive maintenance plan to prevent vandalism, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) information system (to assist in ensuring that meteorological data from Africa were assimilated into a global numeral weather prediction model) and infrastructure security (security of state assets, critical weather information and aviation industry, like weather stations and air quality monitoring stations across the country).
Ms Makau said that for the waste service infrastructure, the Department had requested R50 000, R75 000 and R150 000 million to address the historical backlog of waste services for urban informal settlements, to improve kerbside domestic waste collection services to under-serviced communities, to implement the Cabinet approved policy (from October 2010) for the provision of basic refuse services for indigent households, funding to cover infrastructure upgrade (landfills and transfer stations), purchase of collection vehicles, increase in personnel for refuse collection, to address 80% of approximately 300 unlicensed landfills and improper operation sites and increase recycling infrastructure and buyback facilities.
The increased requests for oceans and coasts amounted to R182 118, R164 200 and R152 500 million for hazards risk management (collection of information and impacts of climate change on oceans services, vulnerable coastal communities, coastal biodiversity, intensity of storm surges and the development of information management systems and operational responses), the utilisation of the SA Agulhas II and the Algoa Research Vessel (for research purposes in climate change, oceanography, deep ocean environments, biodiversity and marine top predators), the use of helicopters for off-loading for the SA Agulhus II, a forecasting system for ocean monitoring and global change tracking and upgrading of research laboratories in terms of safety, overcrowding and inadequate chemical and gas storage.
Ms McCourt said one of the big challenges of the Department was the non-compliance with safety regulations in laboratories, and together with the vessels, this was a big investment.
For the implementation of the national climate change response strategy, the Department had requested R61 700, R50 500 and R52 500 million for mitigation of climate change, potential threats to sustainable development goals, coordinating the implementation of the National Climate Change Response Plan (NCCRP) as the leading agent, integrating adaption responses for early warning and forecasting systems, research, capacity and technology development for disaster risk reduction, determining the medium-term (decade-scale) and long-term climate projections that defined the range of future climate conditions and associated impacts. Added to this was research, capacity development, technology development for disaster risk reduction, the development of adaption and response sector plans, additional obligations for the Department to leverage donor funding, and monitoring and evaluation systems development for Air Quality Information Systems, green house gas emissions, carbon tax offset mechanisms. Climate change was a new branch.
The Chairperson said the priorities of government were wrong, in that the emphasis was on job creation for money. The emphasis should be on infrastructure, which would eventually yield jobs.
Ms McCourt said there were programmes that fell under both the infrastructure and job creation domains, or fell under infrastructure and created jobs or a job that created infrastructure.
Ms Makau turned to the green fund and said the Department had requested R500 000 million for 2014/15 and 2015/16, noting the green fund was a transition mechanism for a sustainable job-creation growth path to a low carbon and resource-efficient green economy and the achievement of the first three “windows” for the green fund as agreed to by the Management Committee (Mancom).
Under environmental programmes, the Department had requested R441 621, R231 658 and R254 824 million based on the assumptions derived from a pilot programme for the separation of waste at the source.
The Department had requested R140 000, R149 800 and R160 300 million for the rehabilitation of the coastal environment, and to cover tourism enhancement, quality of life benefits for communities, rehabilitation of sand-dunes, estuaries and the coastal environment, cleaning up of litter on beaches (particularly the risk posed by plastics), the upgrading and maintenance of facilities and infrastructure along the coast, including pathways that reduced the degradation of the coastal environment.
For people and parks, the Department had requested R100 000, R200 000 and R250 000 million because of the urgent need to create infrastructure in and around the protected areas and parks, ownership by communities to contribute to the creation of small enterprises, upgrading of facilities and infrastructure currently in a dilapidated state within the protected areas, investment and return on investment for people adjacent to the parks, conservation of natural resources and cultural heritage, the development and upgrading of infrastructure on and around protected areas, the development of benefit-sharing models for communities, ancillary industries and Small, Medium and Micro Enterprise (SMME) development.
The Chairperson was impressed by the presentation and said it was in a format that was easy for him to understand.
Dr S Huang (ANC) wanted to know about the working for waste programme, and the utilisation of funds for its campaign.
Mr Morgan added the presentation was excellent and user-friendly. He asked about the public-private partnership for a medical waste facility. Was there anything the Department could do for other entities, to enforce compliance and conservation when looking at rhino poaching?
Ms McCourt said that with the first roll-out of the approach to dealing with the waste programme, it was important to raise awareness and build environmental consciousness. She had noted the payment of a management fee to implementing agents to do the contracting out. Looking at the medical waste PPP, she said one of the key challenges was that the Department of Health needed to initiate such a process jointly, so it would be the primary partner while DEA would have an advisory role. Compliance and enforcement was something that needed to be looked at specifically. The emphasis of the Inter-Governmental Framework was to fund the sector, and not specific functionaries.
Mr Wills said the reason South Africa faced international onslaught was because 73% of the world’s rhino population was found in South Africa. The important areas of work were regulation and enforcement, particularly in terms of equipment and personnel, and thish needed a multi-sectoral approach. One of the issues was whether provincial authorities had the capacity to increase personnel and bear the increased cost of conserving rhino.
Dr Huang questioned the appointment of implementing agents and the management fees paid in the working for water programme.
Mr Preston said, on the issue of rhino poaching, the Department had begun a pilot project with private nature reserves, where they would pay for the training and equipping of environmental monitors. He said there major interest in the private sector for this pilot project and there had been positive feedback from where it had been tried. Looking at the management costs in working for water, he said there had been a good performance from the implementing agents and there was great benefit from the long-term contract. He said the investment in management was important for optimal outcomes, but the Department was conscious of the need to keep those costs down.
Mr Morgan said he was fascinated by the ranger pilot project. He asked how they were chosen.
Mr Preston said the Department was currently working through SANParks, who then worked with the other parks.
Mr Morgan said this was effectively the idea of the youth-wage subsidy.
Dr Huang congratulated the Department on the small amount lost to irregular expenditure, but raised a question about the investigation of certain cases.
Mr Preston said there would inevitably be challenges, given the large number of employees.
The Chairperson said there were simple processes that had to be followed to avoid such incidents.
Ms McCourt said that in this specific case, an investigation had taken place and specific corrective measures had been implemented, with added checks and balances. She said all cases of irregularity were investigated and corrective measures were put in place.
The Chairperson emphasised prioritising. He said the important areas the Committee had emphasised in terms of funding, like infrastructure, should be contained in the Committee’s report,. He said this would benefit funding requested from Treasury.
Ms McCourt said the Department had gone through a substantial prioritisation process. In requesting funding from Treasury, it had been emphasised that the sector was seriously under-funded.
Ms Ngcaba said infrastructure was guaranteed to get funding, but needed a management framework. Rhino poaching was an important priority.
Vote 30: Environmental Affairs Portfolio Committee Briefing Expenditure 2012/13 till 30 September 2012
Ms Makau briefly looked at the trends in expenditure and noted the Department was trending well.
Ms McCourt said the budget to cover the compensation of employees was not sufficient to cover the entire establishment, so there were vacancies.
The Chairperson was shocked at the amount spent on consultants and contractors under the detailed expenditure.
Ms Makau noted the money was spent on contractors, and less so on consultants, especially in the removal of invasive species and contracting work for Smit Amandla.
The Chairperson was simply worried the Department was hiding the consultancy figure under what was spent on contractors. He wanted to know what the Department paid consultants.
Ms Makau noted the other cash drivers were salaries and performance bonuses.
Ms Ngcaba said there was a report that could explain the costs of contractors.
A Department official said that out of the R44 million spent on consultants, R37 million was spent on Smit Amandla for the management of vessels.
Dr Huang was confused about change of title between consultant and implementation agent and the amounts paid.
Ms Ngcaba noted the Department would have liked to list them separately, but for Treasury they were listed as one item. She said they were waiting on another item code to list them individually.
The Chairperson raised points on issues of accountability. He noted the great improvement made but said the DG needed to bite the bullet when it came to prioritisation in order to get funding from Treasury.
Meeting was adjourned.
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- Audit Outcomes of the Environmental Affairs Portfolio Financial Year Ended 31 March 2012 presentation
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