The Committee deliberated on Vote 12 in the schedule to the Western Cape Adjustments Appropriation Bill. Consideration was given to the content, including the annexures, of the report on Adjusted Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure.
Small, Medium and Micro Enterprises (SMMEs) projects benefited largely from the surrender of Compensation Of Employee (COE) funds. The Committee questioned whether there was alignment between the various initiatives where the funds were allocated.
The Department had a 14% vacancy rate against funded posts. The Committee raised concerns about the delays in filling the vacancies. A contributing factor to the delay was the new regulations that impacted on the rate of payment at entry level.
Public participation in the deliberation of the vote came under scrutiny. Documents had been made available a day before the meeting, which did not allow for adequate time to examine the information. A resolution was made to refer the matter to the programming authority.
Vote 12: Adjustments Appropriation Bill
Mr David Maynier, Minister of Finance and Economic Opportunities: Western Cape Government, said that he was looking forward to respond to questions of the Committee on Vote 12.
Mr Solly Fourie, Head Department (HOD), Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape, said the adjustment budget provided an opportunity to see whether sufficient funds were available to cover what the Department planned to do for the rest of the year. This was not to change course or direction, but an indication to apply savings for the rest of the year.
Ms Mymoena Abrahams, Chief Financial Officer: (CFO), Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape, said that the adjustment estimates allowed the Department the flexibility for slight changes in direction. Certain rules applied for adjustment estimates -- for example, savings in the compensation of employees (COE) must be reimbursed to Provincial Treasury.
The virement rule allowed for savings in one programme to be transferred to another programme via a virement programme process. The adjustment estimates also allowed the Department to receive additional money. The Department received funding from the Manufacturing, Engineering and related Services Sector Education and Training Authority (MerSeta), which was the skills development partner of the Department. In summary, the adjustments were a combination of the COE savings surrendered to Provincial Treasury, virement shifts between programmes, either through economic reclassification or savings from projects that came to a halt, and funding from MerSeta.
The Chairperson tabled Vote 12 as documented on p311 to p334 of the Adjusted Estimates of Provincial Revenue and Expenditure, 2019 report. She granted Committee Members the opportunity to engage the officials of the Department on the contents of the report.
Ms N Nkondlo (ANC) wanted to engage in isiXhosa, but the translation devices were unfortunately not functioning. She expressed her dissatisfaction about the lack of translation services. A translator joined the meeting a while later, after the Chairperson had made the arrangement.
Ms Nkondlo said that she was trying to understand which vacancies were prioritised, how many were filled and which units were affected. COE was surrendered for various reasons. She asked for reasons for the deviation from planned expenditure in the skills development programme. She wanted to know where the funding was moved to, for Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT). She failed to understand why another intervention in sub-programme 7.2 on p318, was needed for host companies who preferred experienced artisans. She requested a briefing on the Halaal project in sub-programme 3.2: Sector Development. She queried whether the shifting of funds between sub-programme 5.5: Enabling Growth Infrastructure and Initiatives, and sub-programme 2.2: Regional and Local Economic Development on p317, was linked to the township economy. She wanted to understand whether all the initiatives were aligned.
Mr L Mvimbi (ANC) asked whether money was taken from or to projects with the alignment of funds in support of the various sub-programmes of Programme 1. He questioned the reclassification of the R17 million in sub-programme 2.1: Enterprise Development, and asked whether the money was given directly to municipalities. He asked whether more money was taken to the Oudtshoorn Airport project in sub-programme 2.4: Red Tape.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked whether the 12 harbours project in sub-programme 5.5: Enabling Growth Infrastructure and Initiatives, was cancelled and if it would be revisited.
Ms Abrahams explained that the COE upper limits were introduced by Provincial Treasury. During the year, when people leave for better positions or contracts end, the Department looks for alignment between the strategy and all the positions, and prioritises the strategic positions. Due to uncertainty about what the Department was going to get from National Treasury, there had been a freeze on positions, leaving 22 posts to be filled. There was a potential to fill 10 positions. Three positions depended on Cabinet decisions. For next year, the Department would review the process to look at funding for additional positions.
Mr Fourie said that there was a three to four month time lag to fill vacancies, which added to the COE saving. The Department was restricted from spending the money on other positions due to the upper limit moratorium.
An official from the Department explained that it placed qualified learners from Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) colleges with companies, and paid a stipend for participation in the Artisan Development and the Work and Skills programmes. In the Artisan programme, there was a work placement intervention, in partnership with the SA Oil and Gas Alliance. The learners also get an opportunity to be placed with companies, including Imperial, Golden Arrow and MyCiti.
To improve the quality of the learners, an intervention for prior learning through a mentorship programme was introduced. To date, 800 learners participated in the Competency Based Modular Training (CBMT) project to give practicality to the theory. At the moment 181 young people were placed at Imperial and 141 at MyCiti and Golden Arrow. The investment over the past four years proved that learning with practical experience made young people more employable, with technical and vocational skills.
Mr Rashid Toefy, Deputy Director General (DDG): Economic Operations, Department of Economic Development and Tourism, Western Cape said the CBMT project was a fully funded programme and the integrated learning approach was working well. Beneficiaries of the programme were communities in Lotus Park at the Nyanga Junction. It involved the deployment of starter-funded container buildings to ten organisations for predominantly manufacturing business. The money was used to support small businesses in the Nyanga area.
Mr Fourie said that reclassification from goods and services in sub-programme 1.1 Office of the HOD, to sub-programme 2.2: Regional and Local Economic Development, was needed as the airport was owned by the Oudtshoorn municipality. The split of the R17.7 million in sub-programme 2.1: Enterprise Development, was to accommodate the reclassification in the financials. The stimulus for booster fund projects was granted by National Treasury. Proposals for small, medium and micro enterprise (SMME) projects came from private companies, municipalities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs.) The shift of the R437 000 in sub-programme 2.4 to sub-programme 2.2, was done as the funding was needed to support the upgrade of the Oudtshoorn Airport. A holistic approach was followed regarding the 12 harbours project as part of the Oceans Economy.
Ms Nkondlo asked for details of the 22 vacant positions.
Ms Abrahams replied that 22 vacancies existed at the beginning of the year, which included the three director positions. The Department was experiencing delays in filling vacancies. There was no indication at this point from Cabinet about the three senior management positions.
Mr Fourie explained that there was an expectation from applicants for first notch salaries, but the Department was restricted by new regulations to start payment on the minimum notch. The Department could not make appointments above the minimum grade at the entry level.
Ms Nkondlo requested the Minister to provide reasons for the delayed appointments. She wanted context to the shifting of funds, and asked whether the funds that were received at this time of the year, would be now be spent.
An official from the Department said that the shifting of funds allowed for the transfer to skills development, where they were needed.
Ms Abrahams said that the Department had been waiting on the funding from MerSeta since the beginning of the year. It would be spent upon receipt of the invoices.
Minister Maynier said that the three positions were on hold, and depended on the finalisation of the provincial strategy.
The Bill was adopted by the Committee without amendments.
Ms N Makaba-Botya (EFF) expressed her dissatisfaction at receiving the documentation a day before the meeting. She was unable to interrogate the information and make an objective contribution due to the limited time.
The Chairperson said that it was the norm to receive the documents a day after it was tabled.
Mr Nkondlo said that the point remained relevant irrespective of the explanation. She asked how the public could be expected to participate if documents were not made available timeously. It was only fair that the view was registered as a challenge, to ensure effective public participation.
Mr D Mitchell (DA) said that this was a matter for the programming authority, and the concerns should be raised at that platform.
Mr Van der Westhuizen acknowledged the concerns and agreed that it should be raised with the Parliamentary authority, and referred to the programming authority.
The EFF abstained from the vote.
The ANC reserved the right to express a minority view in not supporting the vote. Ms Nkondlo raised the issue of the lack of translation services.
The Chairperson noted the minority view.
Tabling of Annexures
The annexures were adopted by the Committee.
The timelines for making documents available for deliberation would be referred to the programming authority.
The meeting was adjourned.