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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
20 May 2003
DEPARTMENT BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms G Mahlangu (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Director General Presentation on Budget 2003/4
South Africa National Parks Budget Presentation
2003/4 Business Plan and Budget Presentation
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Budget
The Department briefed the Committee on the budgetary plans for the year 2003/4. Although the various statutory bodies of the Department had prepared submissions, the Director General decided, for the sake of time, and to allow for a session of discussion, to submit only his budget briefing. It would be an overview presentation for the Department. If time allowed, other presentations could be made afterwards. The Department was commended on their achievements in the previous financial year. Some priorities for the present financial year were presented as clearing up of "brown" issues and building environmental compliance capacity; the hosting of the World Parks Congress, and transformation in the tour guide professions. The Committee heard that identifying a clear waste management plan by municipalities, to fall in line with a national plan, would be a "challenge".
The Director-General's Budget Briefing: 2003/4
Mr Crispian Olver (Director-General: Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism) presented the Department's budget briefing for the year 2003/4. He reminded the Committee of the Department's vision for "a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources".
Some achievements which the briefing highlighted from the previous year, were:
1. The World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD)
2. Transformation in the fishing industry
3. Launched the Great Limpopo Transformation Park
4. Negotiation for once off sale of ivory stock pile
5. Translocated game to Mozambique (1041)
Some broad priorities for the current year are:
-to focus on addressing brown issues (clean-up of the Thor chemicals site, improvement of air quality, the implementation of plastic bags regulations, focusing on municipal waste and additional waste streams, addressing the crisis in the Durban South area), and build environmental compliance capacity.
- to consolidate parks expansion, and establish a new legislative framework for biodiversity and conservation.
- the hosting of the World Parks Congress
- the transformation in the Tour Guide Professions
- WSSD follow-up.
- The introduction of a focused international tourism marketing campaign
The Business Plan Budget for the Year 2003/4 focused on budget allocations for Tourism Management, Tourism Support, and Transfer Payments, and came to a grand total of R9251million. Please see the attached submission for a breakdown of this budget.
The DG revealed the budget allocations per directorate for the year 2003/4. In total, the grand allocation came to R116 128 000.
Some objectives of the Department were to promote the conservation and sustainable development of South Africa's natural resources, to protect and improve the quality and safety of the environment, and to promote a global sustainable development agenda.
Towards Environmental Planning and Coordination, a total of R9 067 000 was allocated for environmental monitoring and reporting; R9 312 000 towards environmental impact management; R3 220 000 for law reform, planning and conciliation, R2 841 000 for sustainable development implementation; and R5 600 000 for environmental capacity building.
In order to effect greater transformation in the industry, the Department wanted to:
-use information technology to improve service delivery.
-empower South Africans to participate in environment and tourism through networking, outreach and strategic partnerships
-promote economic improvement, job creation and poverty eradication
- ensure the practice of good governance within the department
- promote transformation and BEE in the fishing, tourism and conservation sectors
The DG felt that the Department was leading the BEE process in the fishing industry, having achieved great successes in effecting transformation here.
Mr M Moss said that he was pleased with the transformation taking place in the fishing industry. There was great improvement.
The Chairperson stated that many tourism venues were not accessible to disabled people, which was discriminatory. Legislation should be passed that would compel accessibility.
Mr J Arendse (ANC) complimented Dr Olver on his presentation, and on the Department's commitment. He asked for clarity on the extra finances reported to have been allocated to Parks was for this financial year, or for this current decade. Had any progress been made on the establishment of a second environmental court? Since the court at Hermanus had been a successful pilot, he asked if the idea would be extended to the Eastern Cape, where poaching was also a problem. With regard to the programme for interns, he asked for the racial and gender breakdown of the interns. What was the purpose of each of the seven programme areas in the budget was for, in terms of reconstruction and development.
Ms P Yako, Deputy Director-General, Department of Environmental Affairs & Tourism (DEAT): Biodiversity and Conservation, answered that in the past ten years, the parks expansion programme had included acquiring land for national parks. Since 1996, 500 000 hectares had been added to the national parks. Land was often acquired through transfer of funds, and partly from donors.
Mr H Kleinschmidt, DDG DEAT Marine and Coastal Management, agreed that the Hermanus court had speeded up the justice process. The case backlog had been cleared, and new cases were being heard immediately. The department planned to extend the programme to the Eastern Cape.
Dr Olver stated that on the Interns Nature-Based Tourism and Conservation (INTAC) programme, five interns had been appointed under Prof Jan Glazewski. All are black, and two of those are women.
He further explained the purposes of each programme in terms of achieving a better life for all.
1. Programme 1: Administration
This programme funds the Minister, Deputy, and top management. Also the corporate services such as communication (the principle outreach as it funds communications to people on the ground), GEF fee, and electronic structures.
2. Programme 2: Environmental Planning and Co-ordination:
This programme deals with cross-cutting issues, e.g. capacity-building in local government; State of Environment reporting; World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) and follow-up to WSSD; and the Commission for Sustainable Development (CSD). It has put work around sustainable development on the South African agenda. He pointed out that poverty is the point of departure in sustainable development.
3. Programme 3: Marine and Coastal Management:
This programme sought to empower coastal communities. There is a country-wide coastal care programme.
4. Programme 4: Tourism:
The Department seeks to benefit all communities through this programme.
5. Programme 5: Environmental Quality and Protection:
This programme has a brown agenda focus, and as such, has championed the local community campaign in Durban South.
6. Programme 6: Biodiversity and Conservation:
Here, the Department is seeking to reposition the industry so that it means something to all South African, e.g. involvement of communities around Parks.
7. Programme 7: Auxiliary and Associated Services:
Incorporates poverty relief. It includes the Antarctica and Islands programme, which is explicitly a transformation programme.
Mr Kleinschmidt said that in the transformation of the fishing industry about 1800 small companies were created. They were able to source funds to buy their own vessels and equipment. About 60% of these are black-owned companies.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) voiced her concern about scientists who were leaving departments. Was there a concrete strategic plan was in place to retain scientists and officials.
Mr Kleinschmidt replied that three paths were used to retain scientific staff:
1. Where staff were being 'poached' by other countries (especially Australia and New Zealand), the Department was looking into the possibility of making counter-offers to encourage staff to stay.
2. The department attracted scientists from abroad to fill in gaps of expertise.
3 The department was creating a vision and prospect of growth over the sector, so that people were attracted to careers in it. They want to discourage fears by people that they would be expected to train up other scientists, who would eventually take their place.
Prof L Mbadi (ANC) asked whether any money had been budgeted for development of a Pondoland park. He later noted that R10m had been budgeted, and asked whether that was enough.
Ms L Mbuyazi (IFP) asked for elaboration on the poverty relief programme, particularly in helping peri-urban communities. She also requested further information about the problems in Durban South, and about the health effects of chemical and air pollution.
Ms Yako said that an area between Tabuna Reef and Port St Johns had been identified for a park in Pondoland. The department would also like the province to manage the forest area south of Port St Johns. The intention was to establish a marine protected area along the coast. She informed the Committee that since most of the land was communally-owned, there would have to be some negotiations entered into for the land.
Regarding poverty relief, Ms Yako said that this year's allocation included money from last year's budget, as most projects have a long lead time, including Environmental Impacts Assessments and various processes. The intention was to link with more big scale integrated projects.
Dr J Matjila, Chief Director: Environmental Quality and Protection, talked about the department's response to pollution by Thor Chemicals. An independent study on the extent of the pollution had triggered departmental action. A rough estimate of the cost of clean up had been made at R60 million. The department offered project management support to Thor Chemicals. Action against Thor Chemicals has been carried out in three ways:
1. Political pressure: Thor is owned by a UK company. The department has formally communicated their actions to the UK Minister of Environment. The UK Government supported action against Thor, and has helped to chase them up in the UK. The UK High Commissioner has been approached and has given support.
2. Media campaign: a documentary is being compiled to communicate the issues with the affected community and NGOs.
3. Implementing a legal campaign.
Regarding air quality issues from refineries, etc in Durban South, Dr Matjila said that a multipoint plan was being implemented, with the assistance of the Norwegian government. A project manager had been appointed. An air quality monitoring system will be implemented in July 2003. A modelling system was being developed. Capacity development of the Ethekwini municipality was underway. Officials had been sent to Norway on training, and there had been a return trip from Norway. The municipality had requested to double the number of trainees, and the Department was negotiating with the Norwegian government in this regard.
A health study had been done on the impacts. The Department of Health has been involved, and gave R1m towards this, although the total amount expected is R6m.
Mr E Moorcroft (DP) noted that about R300m had been earmarked for marine and coastal management, while approximately the same amount had been allocated for 'land' management (R220m for biodiversity & conservation plus R116m for environmental quality and protection.) He questioned whether these should be on a par, suggesting that more should be spent on land as it was the seat of tourism.
Mr Kleinschmidt said that the amount for Marine and Coastal Management was high, as it included a budget for the purchase of vessels. Thus it would be high this year only.
Mr Le Roux asked if funds had been set aside for infrastructure development in National Parks, stating that some parks had occupation rates of over 90%.
Ms Yako replied that about R216m had been allocated for poverty relief in National Parks, being mainly for the development of infrastructure. A further R40m had been set aside, for the development of infrastructure in the Kruger National Park. This meant that R250m was going towards infrastructure development.
The Chairperson congratulated the Department. The fishing industry had definitely improved, adding that it used to take up about 80% of the committee's time. There had been a very positive response to the 4x4 legislation, and the new policy on plastic bags was taking effect well. The issue of tyre recycling needs to be addressed urgently, and questioned whether the burning of tyres should be criminalised. The lack of representivity among tour guides was also an issue. The issue has been isolated from the rest of the tourist industry in a well-calculated way. Perhaps a quota system should be set in order to make legislation more meaningful.
Mr Mahandra Naidoo, Senior Manager: Tourism Development, DEAT, agreed that the tourist guides were not representative. He said that his department had budgeted money for a train-the-trainer programme, in order to train black tour guides. His department had approached the industry, but with little effect. He suggested that the Committee should approach the tour guide industry to emphasise that this was important. Mr Naidoo stated that the motivation for accessibility for disabled people must be escalated.
Regarding tyres, Dr Matjila stated that his department had prioritised the issue. A workshop would be held with the tyre industry, recyclers and other relevant bodies. Legislation similar to the plastic bag legislation would be passed to encourage tyre recycling.
Mr Moorcroft noted his concern about the proposed highway (N2 extension) alongside the proposed Pondoland Park. Why was a highway to be built, and if it was to encourage exploitation of heavy minerals next to the coast. An Australian firm was already prospecting in the area, and questioned whether this was appropriate in an area intended for a marine reserve and national park. He suggested that an environmentally friendly road should be built, rather than a large highway.
Ms Yako stated that there were many views on where and how the N2 through Pondoland should be constructed. The proposed road had been moved further inland than in the original plans, to areas of less impact on biodiversity. Access issues also need to be taken into account, to broaden the economic base of the area. An EIA process was underway, which would sort through the issues, in an attempt to balance the economic advantages versus environmental impact. The EIA team was presently doing a site visit. Many submissions had already been received by interested and affected parties.
Ms Chalmers noted that it was becoming the norm to do an EIA before development, and increasingly it was a legal requirement. She asked whether assistance was being provided to provinces to meet the EIA processing requirements, and to prioritise important EIA's.
Dr Olver replied that he was pleased with the extent to which EIA's were becoming the norm. DEAT was looking at amending NEMA (National Environmental Management Act) Chapter 5 to bring EIA's under NEMA. This would include charging for EIA processing. Economic growth goes in cycles, and thus also developments needing EIA's. It was difficult for provinces to staff themselves accordingly. A dedicated revenue stream was necessary, especially to provinces, so that government can process EIA's quickly and efficiently. Draft legislation amendments are expected in this term or in the third quarter.
Ms Yako added that they were investigating doing an electronic version of Records of Decision. Work was being done to train officials. To this end, Potchefstroom University was assisting to train a broader base of environmental officers.
Ms Chalmers asked whether it was ethical for a developer to use their own environmental consultant. Does the state play an oversight role where the developer is paying a consultant?
Dr Olver replied that the law puts the obligation on the developer to assess the impact of their development on the environment. Therefore, the developer must hire the environmental consultant. The department assesses the consultant's report and sometimes brings in outsiders to assist them in this. He gave the example of the Koeberg Pebble Bed reactor, where the department has brought in a team of international authorities to assess the EIA. Regarding professionalism amongst environmental consultants, legislation would be passed to enforce this. There is draft legislation for a professional body for EIA consultants.
Ms Mbuyazi asked why St Lucia Wetland had the least amount allocated to it. Would the World Parks Congress visit St Lucia.
Ms Yako stated that St Lucia was a new entity, and was not yet at a level where it could absorb huge funds. Last year it had been allocated R3m, and this year's budget had increased to R8.5m Greater capacity must be developed. Other money had also been allocated under the poverty relief programme for the expansion of the park. The department was also looking for private investments.
The World Parks Congress was planning a field trip to St Lucia. The department was also assisting in organising a community congress at St Lucia just before the World Parks Congress.
Ms Mbuyazi asked about protection of officials in the Hermanus court. She had read that the Magistrate had been threatened.
The Chairperson said that in meetings with the tourism council, people who were present from Khayelitsha had said that they derive very little benefit from township tours. Dr Keith Nshongwe has made his document available on how to involve SMME's to engage the disadvantaged communities in tourism. She talked about her experiences in Jamaica, specifically mentioning the patriotism of the people. She questioned why South African Airways used international entertainment on airline travel like "Mr Bean", instead of indigenous entertainment, and suggested that the Tourism department should look at this. At the committee meeting next Tuesday, tour guides will be discussed.
Mr September asked about waste management and sorting - most waste in South Africa was dumped in landfills. He had visited a site in Germany and seen how well waste was sorted and recycled there. He stated that there was a big problem with waste collection in the townships, adding that there was a culture of waste. He said that on a recent visit to Umtata Airport, he had found the airport in a "disgraceful" state.
Dr Matjila agreed that waste management was an issue. Most waste goes to landfills, as no value was attached to it. The plastic bags project would work by increasing the value of bags, so that people will recycle them. This increased the consciousness of the consumer. This was the approach that the Department wanted to adopt to encourage waste minimisation and reuse. The same idea would be used for tyres: the department was considering putting a levy on tyres (perhaps R50) which would be refunded when the tyres are taken to a recycling depot.
Mr Moorcroft questioned whether waste had no value. He said that it was important to separate it at source into wet and dry waste, adding that many projects in developed and developing countries do this effectively. The wet waste could be composted, and people could be employed to separate the dry waste in recycling streams.
Dr Matjila agreed that separation was necessary, but repeated that value must first be attached to it for this to happen.
The Chairperson stated that the country was still very dirty. Rubbish was dumped everywhere. She asked Mr M. Sithole (Ekuleni Municipality in Gauteng) to explain the situation from a municipality level, asking him to explain any plans which were in place to deal with the problem.
Mr Sithole said that one of the greatest challenges municipalities face, was to come up with a waste management plan, one which should be linked to a national waste management plan. The problem was that waste management was dealt with as part of infrastructure, (like water and sanitation) rather than by the environmental section of the local government. It was necessary to come up with a policy framework which linked departments. Often there was a waste management policy at local government level, but the problem was monitoring and the implementation of the policy.
The Chairperson asked if separation of waste at source was possible.
Mr Sithole said it was possible, but agreed with Dr Matjila that unless waste had value, it would not happen . People must be given an incentive to sort their waste.
Dr Olver said that a follow-up to the Polokwane Conference was planned, with an emphasis on local government: how to take the Polokwane declaration and roll it out at a local level. The Conference had raised issues such as landfill tax, and capacity of municipalities, amongst many others.
Dr Olver said that his department looked forward to the passing of five pieces of legislation in this term:
2. Protected areas
3. Amendments to NEMA Chapter 9
4. Amendments to NEMA Chapter 5
5. Air Quality Bill,
There was a possibility of a sixth Bill being the Waste Management Bill. If not, it was hoped this Bill would be passed in the next term.
Both Ms Mbuyazi and Ms Chalmers raised the issue of plants and parks in the Eastern Cape.
Ms Yako said the Department was investigating the possibility of a park either in Grahamstown or Port Elizabeth, and that they were examining the suitability of the sites. The Grahamstown site is easier to establish in the short term and could enhance environmental education, poverty alleviation and tourism, as well as protecting biodiversity. A nature reserve could be linked with the 1820 Settler Monument, which would enhance the tourism potential. In the longer term, the Port Elizabeth site may be better, because the tourism volumes there are higher, and thus it would be cheaper to run in the long term. The issue had not been resolved yet
Ms Chalmers asked what the next step was, and what time frame was expected.
Ms Yako said that quicker action was possible if Grahamstown were chosen. She expected the decision in about six months.
Mr Arendse thanked the Department for their close co-operation with the Committee. There was also a good relationship with the Minister and the Minister's office.
The meeting was adjourned.
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