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TRANSPORT PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
10 March 2003
BUDGET VOTE: BRIEFING BY DEPARTMENT
Chairperson: Mr JP Cronin (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Transport Budget 2003/04 to 2005/06
The Department briefed the Committee on their mandate, strategic overview, programme and budget outputs for 2003/4. The presentation showed that the Department was placing an emphasis on infrastructure as well as rail transport. The Department explained that the reason for the large increase in spending in 2002 was due to new bus subsidies of 20%. The Chairperson suggested that the mandate of the National Department of Transport should be revisited, as a large amount of people is not transport users. He was of the opinion that it should take a more developmental stance.
Professor Rwelamira, Acting Director-General, Department of Transport, outlined the contents of the presentation:
- Mandate and Structure.
- Programme purpose and measurable objectives.
- Strategic overview and key challenges.
- Programme Outputs and Budgets 2003/2004.
- Expenditure estimates and trends.
Prof Rwelamira explained that the mandate of the Department was to facilitate the provision of an affordable, safe and sustainable transport system; which is responsive to the needs of transport users.
Prof Rwelamira outlined the structure of the Department, and highlighted four important programmes:
- Corporate Services.
- Land Transport Management.
- Transport Policy and Regulation.
- Public transport and Planning.
Strategic Overview and Key Challenges
Prof Rwelamira presented the strategic overview for the Department, with three areas providing key challenges.
-With respect to the John Ross Highway, discussions were being held with various parties. These discussions concern implementation and may be finalised in the coming week.
-On the issue of road accidents it was conceded that the Department was trying to identify methods in the short-term to curb the high incidences of road accidents, especially after December 2002.
-Credit Card licenses: the Department confirmed that an extension was granted for a further two months past the cut-off of February 28, for the issuing of the licenses.
Outputs and Budgets
Prof Rwelamira outlined the budget for the Department, highlighting important points.
-Land Transport Management. T he budgetary difference between infrastructure and administration shows the high priority that the Department is placing on infrastructure.
-Baseline Budgets: it was shown how, over the last number of years, the budget for Transport has not grown very much, and amounts allocated fall below that which is needed.
Rail transport: it was shown that a priority is placed on rail transport, with 38.05% of the budget being allocated to this end.
-Increases in spending: the Department explained that the reason for the large increase in spending in 2002 was due to new bus subsidies of 20%. As for increases in 2003, this was due largely to a R185 million allocation for infrastructure.
-Funding from sources outside of the Medium Term Budget: mention was made to R50 million that would be coming in from the Road Accident Fund, and that these funds had been guaranteed.
Mr Roy Ainslie (ANC) asked why funds had been set aside for Search & rescue, and whether or not there was some duplication in funding. Mr Ainslie conceded that he was under the impression that the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) was funding themselves through their own means.
Prof Rwelamira explained that, from 2003/04, Transport would be taking over the funding of the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI). He said that previous funding had been coming from the Defense Force, but that they were no longer doing so. An initial amount of R800 000 has been budgeted, with further amounts of R500 000 in the following budgetary period, per year.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) asked about the Khayelitsha railway extension of 4.5 kilometers which had come under review up to four years ago. He asked whether there was any progress, as this issue kept arising in budget presentations.
Prof Rwelamira conceded that there had been a delay, mainly due to negotiations on land and with the rail services - new coaches and stations would need to be built. Some negotiation is also necessary, as the line is to pass through municipal and private land. Treasury has set aside an additional R58 million for this. However, additional work on the line has now been approved and the focus was on planning for the extension of the line in 2004. He said that R130 million had been set aside for this venture. The question had also been raised by Treasury, who took the view that a long-term strategy needed to be in place to curb rising costs. The suggestion was put forward that perhaps a merger, of Metro Rail and Shosholoza Rail, for example, would be advantageous. Prof Rwelamira was of the opinion that this would not result in any financial gains, and that subsidies would still be necessary. He agreed that it might help in stream-lining the service, but bring no financial gains.
Mr Charles Radcliffe (NNP) asked about the new Credit Card licenses, and whether any decision had been made regarding those in the foreign service, armed forces, or anyone who was merely overseas for a period.
Prof Rwelamira again reiterated the decision to extend the deadline for acquiring the license to the end of April 2003. He said that prisoners, the sick or infirm, and those on official foreign assignments would be exempt from consequences arising from non-acquisition of the license. Those serving overseas, however, would still need to show that they were not in a position to convert at the date of conversion.
Mr Cronin made the point that the mandate of the National Department of Transport should be revisited, as a large amount of people are not transport users. He was of the opinion that it should take a more developmental stance.
The meeting was adjourned.
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