Department Public Works: briefing

NCOP Public Services

01 April 2003
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Meeting report

Select Committee Public Works

SELECT COMMITTEE PUBLIC SERVICES
2 April 2003
DEPARTMENT PUBLIC WORKS: BRIEFING


Chairperson: Mr V Windvoel (ANC Mpumalanga)

Documents handed out:
Budget Preview presentation
Strategic Plan MTEF cycle 2003/4 to 2005/6 presentation
Briefing on Parliamentary Villages (Appendix 1)
Briefing on Community Based Public Works Programme (included)

SUMMARY
The Department of Public Works briefed the Committee on its programmes and budget for 2003/4. The Department noted the lack of funding and the consequent constraints it placed on the Department's functioning. They noted the dire consequences of not paying the various lease, rates and tax obligations of relevant state offices and buildings.

The Department also addressed the issue of the Parliamentary Villages. The discussion that followed focussed on the numerous complaints of residents. These matters were set aside for a later meeting of Residence Committees where the Director General of Public Works would listen to all residents' concerns.

MINUTES
Briefing by Department of Public Works
Department Strategic Plan
Mr J Maseko: Director General, Department of Public Works, presented the Strategic Plan MTEF cycle 2003/4 to 2005/6. He noted that the main emphasis during 1999/2000 to 2002/03 was on providing services to client Departments. He explained that there would be a significant shift in the Department's strategic direction in the 2003/4 to 2005/6 MTEF cycle. There would be a separation of their two main roles. Firstly, as custodian of the State's immoveable properties and secondly as provider of accommodation services and asset management services to national Departments and institutions.

Community based public works programme
Mr B More presented a Community Based Public Works Programme (CBPWP). CBPWP is a specific job creation infrastructure provision subprogramme of the Department of Public Works with an emphasis on previously disadvantaged rural areas within the republic.

It adds synergy to the rural development strategy of the government of South Africa. Some of the key areas presented include:

-the allocation of Budget method to the CBPWP is allocated to the district Councils by means of a fair and equitable budget allocation methods using [i] the October 1995 survey [ii] 1996 census figures.
-Consultations are entered into with [i] Provincial departments of Public Works to obtain buy in from provinces for the proposals budget allocation and for provinces to agree to act as external monitors of the programme. [ii] District councils to assess their capacity and willingness to act as programme Implementing agents of the Department of Public Works.
-Commitment by provinces and District Councils. Provinces to give a commitment to act as external monitors of the programme and to partake in the project approval process. District Councils to give a commitment to act as programme implementing agency.
-Targeting of poverty pockets are to be identified within the district council by taking into consideration the integrate development plan of the municipality to be linked with other existing programmes. Other Local Development Planning and existing projects on the District Council database.
-With regard to cluster identification, a Cluster Steering Committee is established comprising of local respected leaders and empowerment of this committee to identify relevant projects. The committee assists in completing application forms for the projects.
-With regard to approval of projects, they are submitted to a provincial coordinating committee for approval to enter the planning phase. The committee comprises of National Department of Public Works Representative, Provincial Department of Public Works Representative and other relevant stakeholders as identified within each province.
-In project planning, Professional service providers are appointed to undertake the planning and implementation on each project comprising of project management, social facilitation, technical design and training.


Department Budget
Mr Z Ntsalube: Chief Financial Officer, Department of Public Works, presented the Budget Document. He said that it was apparent that the Department's budgetary allocation was inadequate to the fund the Department's critical programmes. The Department has demonstrated the capacity to spend its allocated budget. This was evidenced by the R34 million over-expenditure in the 2001/02 financial year. The current expenditure trends also indicate a potential over-expenditure of R40 million. He outlined the four main programmes of the Department and the funding allocations. He noted the implications of under-funding.

Parliamentary Villages
A Western Cape regional official of the Department Public Works, Fred Johnson presented on the issue of parliamentary villages. He noted that the lists of complaints from the various villages ranged from poor access control to the replacement of weathered furniture. He said there have been a number of house break-ins in the villages. This was partly the result of the small number of policing officers, lack of an intercom system, Members not informing authorities when leaving homes vacant and a host of other matters.

Discussion
Mr T Ralane (ANC Free State) asked whether there is value for money in the over expenditure indicated in the previous years budget.

Mr Maseko (Director General) said that they are currently receiving great value for money but there is always room for improvement.

Ms J Vilakazi (IFP Kwa-Zulu Natal) asked what caused the underfunding.

Mr Maseko explained that the over expenditure is a result of the Department's budgetary requirements for taxes rates leases and so forth not being met by the Treasury. The Department pays the leases, taxes and rates on behalf of national government offices and buildings. If the Department is not given the required funds to pay for these services some offices may have to be closed.

Mr Maseko said by way of example, in the past when they want to build a prison the Department of Correctional Services would apply to the Treasury for money. If approved the Treasury would transfer the money into the Department of Public Works Budget.

In future the money would go directly to the Department Of Correctional Services budget. The Department of Public Works would then work in a Project Management capacity on behalf of the Department Correctional Services.

Mr More said that under the current constitutional arrangement three tiers of government exist and the National Department of Public Works should only be responsible for national government properties. However, this has not yet been translated into the funding mechanisms but he said it would soon be resolved.

Mr M A Sulliman (ANC Northern Cape) asked who the building belongs to in such a case.

Mr Maseko said the Department of Public Works manages the physical building while the Department of Correctional Services manages the prisoners.

Mr N Raju (DP Kwa Zulu-Natal) said there are some schools in Kwa-Zulu Natal that were built before 1994 that are currently falling into disrepair. He said it is unacceptable that there are excellent schools falling to ruins while some provinces are in desperate need of schools. He asked whether there was a register of schools built by the former TBVC states.

Mr Maseko said there are some unused schools but also other structures such as disused army camps standing idle. He said it is because of incidents like these that the Department needs to establish a more long-term approach and thorough planning framework throughout government to avoid the creation of white elephants.

The Chairperson asked whether the State Property Management Agency has been established yet.

Mr Maseko said the Property Management Agency is on hold because Cabinet requested that more research be done on this matter.

Mr Ralane asked how much money is owed to the Department by other Departments and how much the Department owes to the various municipalities.

Mr Maseko said the Department does not owe anything to any municipality as they pay their accounts on a regular basis. Under the current payment arrangements it is not possible for any Department to owe the Department Public Works for rates taxes and the like, but these amounts are reflected in the Department's over expenditure until the process of devolution, currently underway, is complete.

Ms Chabaku asked who owns historic buildings.

Mr Maseko said the South African Heritage Association is responsible for historic sites in South Africa. He said some properties are owned by various different private groups or state tiers who manage the respective historic sites but still adhere to South African Heritage Association guidelines.

The Chairperson asked whether properties are leased at market-related prices and who decides on these matters.

Mr Maseko said the only person who can decide on levies is the Minister of Finance.

Mr Ralane asked whether all transfers are conditional and whether there is something the Department can do to assist transformation in the property industry.

Mr Maseko said the state is the largest tenant in South Africa and because of this government has considerable influence over the industry. They are currently in the process of investigating how to translate this influence into transformation in the industry.

Mr Z Ntsalube: Chief Financial Officer, Department of Public Works, said that all transfer payments are conditional grants.

Mr Raju asked who was in charge of selecting buildings rented by government as some were completely inadequate for the required functions.

Mr Maseko said what is needed is a framework that outlines the minimum standards required for government buildings.

Ms Vilikazi said Parliamentary Villages are in a 'shambles'.

Mr Maseko acknowledged the state of disrepair the villages are in but said he would not use the term used by the Member.

The Chairperson said most of the interventions for parliamentary villages suggested by the Department could have been introduced long ago.

Ms Vilakazi said the furniture in the villages is 'horrible' and 'shameful' when entertaining visitors. She complained that currently there is no-one to install her light bulbs when they need replacement.

Mr Raju said it was difficult to complete a successful audit because he suspects many tenants are living in the villages illegally. As yet unproven allegations have been made of people paying R500 rent to stay in the Village.

Mr Maseko said he acknowledges Members' legitimate grievances. The problems can be grouped as financial, managerial and governance related. There are existing structures such as the residence committee that Members should use to govern their own residences. He acknowledged that many of the problems are simply a result of poor management. Mr Maseko said it would cost millions to bring the residences to an acceptable standard for accommodation.

Mr Maseko and the Chairperson agreed that these matters could be better resolved through the various residence committees. Mr Maseko said he would personally be present at the various meetings to discuss all residence grievances. He also said most of the problems are in one specific parliamentary village.

Members also complained about the standard of the bus service for Members of Parliament.

The Chairperson concluded that all Members should take greater responsibility for the state of parliamentary villages.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix 1:
PARLIAMENTARY VILLAGES

Briefing to the
SC on Public Services

Introduction
Acacia Park, Pelican Park and Laboria Park are the Parliamentary Villages for Members of Parliament and Sessional Officials.

The Parliamentary Villages Management Board Act, Act 96 of 1998 governs the Villages.
Residence Committees established at the Parks serve in an advisory capacity to the Department to provide for all the needs of the residence.

Presentation on issues as highlighted follow below

SECURITY
CURRENT STATUS

There are insufficient SAPS VIP Protection officials.
Three or four VIP Protection officials are available at the access control resulting in limited patrols taking place.
Visitors gain access through tenants without prior arrangement.
Tenants do not inform the VIP Protection Services if they leave Villages for a period.

INTERVENTION
· An increase in the number SAPS VIP Protection Service
staff at the Parliamentary Villages to ensure foot patrols
· To discuss stricter access control measures with the Parliamentary Villages Residents Committees
· Limit the number of tenants through an occupancy audit involving the Resident Committees
· Investigate the possibility of an access card control system

LOSS OF PROPERTY
CURRENT STATUS
·
Increase in burglaries
· Burglar alarms have been installed but cannot be activated when tenants are in the units
· Burglars gain access to the units through open windows
· Lack of burglar bars
· VIP Protection Services do not conduct investigations
· Tenants must report burglaries to Goodwood Police Station via the main gate
· No intercom between gate and residents/parks managers office

INTERVENTION
·
Discuss the installation of burglar bars with Parliamentary Villages Residents Committees as well as the South African Police Services and budget accordingly.
· Discuss installation of intercom system from gate to residence and budget accordingly

COMPLAINTS/FAULTS
CURRENT STATUS
·
Complaints/Faults consist of
- Day to Day Maintenance
- Appliance Replacement
- Furniture Replacement/Repairs
- Planned Maintenance
· Response time
- Day to Day Maintenance - 1-3 days
- Appliance Replacement - Depends on budget
- Furniture Replacement - Depends on budget, -
- Planned Maintenance - Depends on budget

INTERVENTION
·
Facilities Management Company WSP appointed with a performance based contract
· Call Centre will be in place from 1 May 2003 guaranteed response time
· Annual planned program will be agreed with Parliamentary Villages Residents Committees regarding the replacement of furniture/appliance and planned maintenance for a specific financial year

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