DEFF on Adjustment Budget & Revised Annual Performance Plan; with Minister

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

10 July 2020
Chairperson: Mr F Xasa (ANC) and Ms T Modise (ANC, North West)
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Meeting Summary

Audio: PC Environ 10 July 2020 

The Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries briefed the Committees on its proposed allocations, as introduced by the 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill.

The Department informed the Committees that it had to reprioritise and cut funds from several programmes, due to the 20% budget cut National Treasury imposed. These funds would be allocated to the Covid-19 stimulus package. Some of the areas that had been affected were travel and accommodation, mass community outreach and school awareness programmes and events. Funds were reprioritised by the Department to purchase personal protective equipment. To ensure that regulatory compliance and sector monitoring was not compromised, the Department reprioritised funds into this programme.

The Minister added that an addendum annual performance plan from Treasury had been presented to the Committee to indicate the budget cuts of the Department. She asked that the Members consider the contents of the plan addendum and submit written questions by Monday, 13 July 2020; the Department would try to do its best to respond accordingly to the Committee.

Members emphasised that it was important for the Department to ensure that jobs were saved during this period as this would only affect the poor in society. They also questioned whether the Department would be able to carry out its regulatory mandate in the face of these budget cuts.

Members expressed that whilst it was admirable for the Department to provide its funds to the National Treasury to assist with COVID-19, this had had an effect on the livelihoods of small fisheries. They asked what the Department was doing to assist and whether it had engaged with those communities.

Some Members also argued that whilst COVID-19 had caused mass devastation to both families and the economy, it had also brought gains to the environment; with cleaner air, better waste management practices and less pollution. They asked how the Department, with this budget, would ensure that these environmental gains that the country had had in the past few months would remain. What ameliorating facts will this budget have to ensure that the Department can deal with climate change?

Members also asked what informed the Department to only allocate fishing cooperatives to fishers in the Western Cape and no other provinces; how will the Department assist the small fishing cooperatives affected by the lockdown?

Meeting report

Co-Chairperson Xasa indicated that this meeting was convened through the Adjustment Appropriation Bill tabled on 24 June 2020. The intention of the meeting was for the Committee to gain clarity from the Minister and the Department on how it was affected by the vote number 32.

He asked for an adoption of the meeting agenda.

Ms L Bebee (ANC, KZN) moved for the adoption of the agenda.

Mr N Singh (IFP) seconded the proposal.

Co-Chairperson Xasa declared the agenda adopted. He welcomed both the Department and the Minister and asked for the Minister to begin with the presentation.

Minister’s Remarks

Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Barbara Creecy, indicated that the Department had brought a significant number of delegates to the meeting. She informed the Committee that the presentation was an outline of the situation that the Department was faced with and that it had to make a monetary contribution to the Department of Health – through a 20% cut. The Department had to consider how it would deal with the various difficulties it was facing. Prior to the pandemic, all of the Department’s entities were in good standing, as such the Department considered how to maintain this.

The effects of the budget cuts on the Department’s regulatory function had also been considered by Department, especially since the regulatory function was enshrined in law. In dealing with the cuts it had to set a common set of criteria. Due to restrictions, the Department was able to cut these costs, such as that of travel and accommodation. But the Department decided that in order to protect the full-time staff at SANParks as well as the Department’s protected significant estate, the Department would have to conduct an in-year virement of a significant amount from environmental programmes to SANParks.

She indicated that SAWS and iSimangaliso’s revenue had been affected by the Covid-19 travel restrictions. Consequently, the Department was forced to merge capital expenditure (CAPEX) with its operational expenditure (OPEX). To ensure that the infrastructure projects in CAPEX, and where projects where money had been shifted were not affected, the Department planned to seek alternative financing, under the auspices of the Presidential Infrastructure Committee. Due to the shifting of money from Environmental Projects, the Department had to scale back on EPWP programmes but was looking for sources of donor financing internationally and domestically to keep them running. She indicated that tough decisions had to be made but they were in the best interest of the Department, and that these programmes had not been permanently stopped.

She added that an addendum annual performance plan from Treasury had been presented to the Committee to indicate the budget cuts of the Department. She asked that the Members considered the contents of the plan addendum and submitted written questions by Monday, 13 July 2020; the Department would try to do its best to respond accordingly to the Committee. She also informed the Members that both the Acting Director-General and the Chief Financial Officer would conduct the presentation.

Briefing by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

Mr Ishaam Abader, Acting Director-General of the Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, informed the Committee that the Department had to reprioritise and cut funds from several programmes, due to the 20% budget cut National Treasury imposed. These funds would be allocated to the Covid-19 stimulus package. Some of the areas that had been affected were travel and accommodation, mass community outreach and school awareness programmes and events. Funds were reprioritised by the Department to purchase PPE. To ensure that regulatory compliance and sector monitoring was not compromised, the Department reprioritised funds into this programme.

Mr Rannoi Sedumo, Chief Financial Officer, DEFF, indicated that with regard to Oceans and Coasts, the Department had to cut international travel and accommodation and has reduced but focused ocean and coastal field research. It also reduced media awareness raising initiatives and stakeholder engagement processes.

In order to ensure that the air quality monitoring network was functional, stakeholder engagements were to continue virtually in relation to policy development and the Draft Climate Bill.

Discussion

Co-Chairperson Xasa asked for the decorum on how to conduct the question and answer session.

Mr Singh asked if the Chairperson would prefer general questions relating only to the presentation.

Ms M Mokause (EFF, Northern Cape) suggested that the Committee should engage with the presentation and the Department could then respond directly to those questions.

Ms N Gantsho (ANC) suggested that each Chairperson recognise the Members’ names in both Committees.

Co-Chairperson Modise agreed with Ms Gantsho’s suggestion.

Ms Mokause pointed out that it was previously mentioned that there were leadership issues in SANBI but the Minister made it seem as if they did not exist. She asked if the Minster was still denying that there was a lack of leadership at SANBI, as individuals in leadership were often shifted out – particularly black women. Why were millions lost at SANBI?

She stated that the EFF did not support EPWP programmes and the contractual formation of either the government or the private sector. She noted that these opportunities suffered the most job cuts. She asked the Minister if this was an indication that she and the Department did not care about the plight of black people (job opportunities). She asked if the Department made an assessment of how many people who existed in these programmes were employed and how many were successful.

Co-Chairperson Xasa cautioned Ms Mokause for using militant language towards the Minister.

Ms Mokause asked the Chairperson to point out the strong language she used, to prevent further problems.

Mr A Arnolds (EFF, Western Cape) indicated that whilst he noted the budget cuts, it still remained the responsibility of the government to prevent job cuts. Whilst the Department saved jobs, it was still not enough.

He asked which international and domestic donors the Department applied for to fund the 29 projects.

He mentioned the R88 million that was suspended to the Marine Living Fund and he asked for the details of the suspension of those funds, to the entity.

Ms Bebee mentioned that the presentation indicated that the Department had made progress and this should be applauded. She asked about the status of the departments on seeking alternative funding through local, bilateral and international funding in order to mitigate the impact of budget cuts.

She then asked whether the Department managed to submit its contribution to the National Treasury (NT), in line with the national COVID-19 response. If yes, what was the response of the NT?

Ms H Winkler (DA) asked what would happen with the timeframe on the Department’s nationally determined contribution as per the Paris Agreement and how that would be affected by the delays and the budget cuts.

She then asked if there would also be delays and disruptions to the finalisation of the Climate Change Bill draft and if so, what the time frame was for its finalisation.

On waste tyre management, she asked if the Minister could give an indication of where that was in the process.

She also asked if the reprioritisation of funds would impact on the assistance that the Department would provide to municipalities in terms of absorbing waste pickers into waste management – as it should be the priority of the Department to create jobs for the poor of society.

She asked what programmes the Department had that dealt specifically with the sixth extinction, and the protection of SA’s biodiversity, in line with the budget cuts.

Mr N Paulsen (EFF) expressed that whilst it was admirable for the Department to provide its funds to the NT to assist with COVID-19, this had had an effect on the livelihoods of small fisheries. He asked what the Department was doing to assist and whether it had engaged with those communities.

Mr Singh mentioned that whilst COVID-19 had caused mass devastation to both families and the economy, it had brought gains to the environment; with cleaner air, better waste management practices and less pollution. He asked how the Department with this budget would ensure that these environmental gains that the country had had in the past few months would remain. What ameliorating facts will this budget have to ensure that the Department can deal with climate change?

He asked to what extent the monitoring and evaluation within the Department would be affected, especially because the Department had a regulatory function.

He noted that SANParks was the biggest beneficiary of the virements, and asked what informed entities to benefit more than citizens. He also noted that there had been cuts on forestry and he indicated that the Department should start zero-based budgeting. He had argued previously that the forestry management programme should be scrapped and that the forest plantations should be given to the communities in the area to manage.

Ms Gantsho asked what the total percentage of the departmental staff component working from home and in the office was.

Referring to programme three she asked what informed the Department to only allocate fishing cooperatives to fishers in the Western Cape and no other provinces; how will the Department assist the small fishing cooperatives affected by the lockdown?

Mr J Lorimer (DA) first asked if there had been jobs lost across the Department and all its entities.

He then mentioned that there must be a plan as to when National Parks would start operating again in order to gain revenue. He asked what date the Department believed the parks would be open, particularly the Kruger National Park.

He also asked how many fewer work days there would be in the budget, and how many fewer people would get jobs. He asked for detail on how the budget cuts would affect the programmes for working for water and working on fire.

Ms F Hassan (ANC, Gauteng Provincial Legislature), referring to programme seven, waste pickers and recyclers, asked how the distribution of support was done and how it was handled to ensure it reached the intended beneficiaries.

She asked if there was a plan to maintain some of the capitalisation projects. Will the conditional grants be affected by the reprioritisation?

Minister Creecy recommended that each branch answer questions posed to them. The first questions answered would be those on climate change.

Dr Thulie Khumalo, Acting Deputy Director-General: Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development, DEFF, responded to the question on seeking alternative funding to mitigate the budget cuts. On this, she mentioned that the Department was in the process of preparing bankable projects, and had met with the big players in industry who would require money for emission reduction.

The Chairperson indicated that her audio was inaudible.

Ms Mokause proposed that another individual from the Department answer those questions until Ms Khumalo could fix her audio quality.

The Chairperson asked if the Minister could summarise her response.

Minister Creecy indicated that where they had had budget cuts on climate change, the Department was seeking alternative funding from international partners that had supported their work in the past.

Touching on the Climate Change Bill, she reminded the Committee that it was currently with Nedlac and there had been issues in ironing out the relationship between the carbon budgets and the carbon tax, but these had since been resolved. The Bill would go back to Nedlac in July, once that was done the Department would try to ensure that it was tabled in Parliament before the end of this financial year.

On the review of the NDC’s, she said that COP26 had been deferred to Glasgow in 2021 and therefore there was a four-phased process in terms of the NDC’s which included public participation and that would be commencing shortly; the Committee would be given details on this. She indicated that the Department believed that it would conclude the review of the NDC’s in time for COP26.

Ms Mamogala Musekene, Chief Directorate: General Waste and Municipal Support, DEFF, on waste-pickers, said that the Department was working together with provinces and municipalities supported by the waste picker organisations within the municipalities. The distribution would occur through municipalities and metros, which were closer to where the waste-pickers were. Part of the support would include a once-off payment based on the poverty guideline which would be R945 per waste-picker.

On waste tyre management, she mentioned that currently the CSIR was assisting the Department with regard to the development of Section 29 tyre industry waste management plan. The CSIR was also engaging with industry. The Department had received input from the industry reference group where the manufacturers, the processors and the mines were participating with the development of this plan. The Department anticipated that by October it would gazette the plan for public comment.

She indicated that the Department had worked with industry to develop the extended producer responsibility for paper, packaging, electrical and development electronic equipment, as well as lighting. The proposed regulations together with the notices covering those products were published for public comment and submissions would close on 27 July 2020.

Currently the Department was working with the Presidency Infrastructure Fund and they were assisting the Department to develop a programme to support municipalities with regard to landfill establishment, which would assist municipalities with compliance on those establishments.

Mr Shonisani Munzhedzi, DDG: Biodiversity and Conservation, DEFF, indicated that the COP convention on biological diversity planned for October had been postponed. The COP was meant to focus on the new deal: people and nature. South Africa as the Chair of the Africa Group of negotiators was a part of the planning process of this COP.

Referring to mass extinction, he mentioned that the rate of it was more concerning in South Africa due to human induced activities. At an international level, the intergovernmental programme on biodiversity and ecosystem services released a global assessment that showed these trends and SA scientists were a part of this process to assess the changes and impacts on biodiversity. All of the Department’s entities were attending to the challenge of biodiversity loss and conservation, either through regulations, permitting, monitoring, etc. It was important for the Department to work with several parties, domestic and international also non-state actors like the World Wildlife Fund.

The process of the allocation of plantations to the respective communities had in fact begun, and the packaging and parcelling plantations to communities was led by both the Minister and the Deputy Minister.

She also mentioned that the Department needed to keep the branch because the branch did not only concentrate on commercial plantations; there were different streams of Forestry that the Department was charged with, such as the National Forest and Fires Act which was the natural custodian of the branch. The onus was on landowners to ensure that they had integrated fire management regimes.

The Department had a mandate of greening, which was the planting of trees outside plantations and forests. The Department also had charter obligations with regard to transformation as well as the post settlement support of all claimants once those were settled.

Mr Sedumo said that when the Department had to decide on the budget allocations and cuts for each entity, it had to sit with the entities and look at their projections, beginning from March till the end of the year. The calculations were based on the ability of the entities to operate and to pay their running costs. SANParks projections were an amount of R961 million to operate (relief). He informed Members that SANParks was an entity of R2.5 to R3 billion. It was the biggest entity within the Department.

He mentioned that one of the criteria the National Treasury put down for the 20% budget cut, required that additional cuts be done within the entities. The R88 million cut was determined by them. The Department currently had a strategy to assist SANBI’s management and to ensure it continued with its work.

Mr Fundisile Mketeni, Chief Executive Officer of SANParks, said that the Minister had a significant number of issues to consider in light of the budget cuts.

He added that the opening of National Parks was guided by each level of the lockdown. The Department continued to train its staff to be ready.

Mr Abader indicated that some of the EP projects had not been put on hold, but because of the lockdown regulations, the Department had had to revise the target of annual equivalence from 31 000 to 16 315.

On the terms of work opportunities created, the annual target of the Department was 61 378, which had to be revised down to 44 208. The number of participants on accredited training programmes had to be revised from 22 231 to 10 641.

Ms Limpho Makotoko, DDG: Corporate Services, DEFF, indicated that there were a few programmes in the Department that absorbed its interns. There was a placement programme, called the work integrated programme where 100 interns were employed annually. The programme had placement opportunities, partnering with the private sector to place all 100 of them. Some interns were placed in the Ukusebenza Programme. The percentage of the absorption rate was 60%.

Answering the question on the percentage of the Department's staff that was working from home she indicated that 23% of the staff was currently working from home. The Department was working on a rotational plan. Those not in the office premises were those over the age of 60 and those with comorbidities who were mostly in the forestry sector.

Minister Creecy stated that because the signal of the representative of the fisheries branch was poor, the Department would respond in writing to the questions. She asked if the Deputy Minister would like to communicate.

Deputy Minister of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, Ms Maggie Sotyu, indicated that she had nothing to add.

Ms S Mbatha (ANC) mentioned that the landfill sites were abnormal because the waste put there was contaminated. She recommended that the Department should look at the best practices of other countries, and how they manage their landfill sites, to correct the disastrous state they were currently in.

She mentioned that the percentage of waste diverted to the landfill site was too small. Most of the research indicated that 90% of the Department’s waste lands up in the landfill site without being depressed at source, recycled or reused. She was concerned about this and asked how jobs on recycling would be created by the Department.

The environmental programmes were intended to and did in fact assist the municipalities on waste management. She asked how the municipalities would work with the cut on environmental management.

Ms C Labuschagne (DA, Western Cape) asked how many projects there were on the alternative green financing, and what they would be; stated that If there were too many to mention then the Department could put this in writing.

On the oceans and coast programme, there were consultancy services that had R29 million suspended from oceans and project management. It seemed that money from consultancies was moved from one programme to the next. She asked whether the specialist monitoring services were going to cover the consultancy in the Department.

She asked for clarity if the Department had, in fact, had a 20% budget based on the numbers given.

She asked for a summary on the reason for the Marine Living Resources Fund; with its large mandate, how will it be able carry this out with a budget cut?

She indicated that there had been a reduction of R24.8 million in costs in chemical and waste management. While it would appear that funding for recycling enterprises support programmes had been moved and augmented to the integrated waste management strategic support sub-programme, this led to an increase from R112 million to R124.3 million. She mentioned that what was not clear from the data supply was why the increase was less than the R65 million removed from the recycling enterprises support programme. If R65 million was moved to an allocation of R112 million it should have increased to R177 million. She asked for clarity on this.

Ms Winkler mentioned that there was a high-level panel convened on the management of Rhino, elephant and captive predator breeding. Since a number of members on the panel had resigned, the legitimacy of the panel was called into question because it was skewed to consumptive use. She questioned the veracity of the outcomes in the forthcoming report, and whether the Minister was aware of this and whether she would apply solutions to rectify the imbalance.

Referring to extended producer responsibility with regard to the recycling of plastics, she asked how far the legislative process was in holding multinational companies to account with the waste that they contribute to SA’s landfills.

She reminded the Committee that she had submitted a parliamentary question with regard to pollution in the South Durban basin and was pleased that a stakeholder forum was proposed by the Department and that a health impact study would be composed. She asked if this would be moved to an online/virtual platform due to the pandemic.

Mr T Matibe (ANC Limpopo) asked if the Department would be able to mitigate the effect that with the budget cuts would have on its ability to enforce compliance on environmental organisations that would be inspected.

He mentioned that prior to the lockdown, the Department had partnered with traditional authorities in rural provinces on a biodiversity programme. In his home province of Limpopo there was a specific programme where there was consultation with traditional leaders; he asked if in the face of the pandemic whether that programme would continue because this would have assisted with employment opportunities in rural areas.

He asked if the Department would submit to the Committee (in writing) each of the 29 projects it asked for funding for from the Presidency Infrastructure Fund. He also noted that there was a cut in environmental education, which was a problem as conservation of the environment needed to be bred in children. He asked what steps the Department had taken to mitigate this.

Mr Singh asked that the fisheries branch not forget about the category of subsistence fishermen as that needed to be brought into the mix of those currently making representations. He also thanked the Minister for her efforts.

He asked how much had been spent on PPE.

He then asked if the Department has thought of the reduction of staff across the entities and the Department. Are there any contractual obligations that the Department entered into that it had to meet, and did the service providers have to be paid for those contracts (prior to the lockdown)?

His final question was on whether the Department was looking at the wet markets in the country.

Ms T Tongwane (ANC) mentioned that her questions were related to programme three. She asked how the Department’s target to approve the alternative livelihood concept plan within the oceans economy in the current financial year would contribute to the food security initiatives and what the envisaged impact would be on the development of the rural economy in the face of the pandemic.

She then asked what the impact of Covid-19 had had on the revenue collection streams for the marine living resources fund in the first quarter and what the likelihood of further losses in revenue was. Also, how would the gazetting of the new revenue stream of fees help improve the viability of the front post?

Minister Creecy asked that the waste branch answer the questions on how the Department was trying to promote diversion from landfills and separation at source.

Ms Musekene responded that the Department was currently putting in place a regulatory framework to divert waste links. On extended producer responsibility, the Department had published for comment, the proposed regulations for this extended producer responsibility, as well as three notices covering the waste streams; electrical and electronic. Plastics were included as part of the packaging but also some of the single-use products would be controlled under this EPR. Once the Department published for implementation the regulations, manufacturers of the products would be required to invest in collection systems (post-consumer) that would assist with diverting the products away from landfills.

Referring to the question on jobs, she mentioned that this was linked to the implementation of the EP schemes for the products mentioned, as well as the diversion of other bulk industrial waste such as ash. Those were the jobs that would be created linked to the waste economy Phakisa.

On the operations of the landfills, she said that since the beginning of July the Department had worked with both Treasury and CoGTA to revise the municipal infrastructure grant framework, in order to allow for the procurement of the yellow fleet (moveable assets, compactor trucks and the heavy machinery used at landfill sites) so that municipalities could make use of MIG funds to procure those assets, to enable proper management of landfill sites. Previously, MIG did not allow for that but the Department had since assisted with the revision.

Referring to the question of the budget cuts, she indicated that not all of the allocated money was moved from the recycling enterprise programme. There were some contractual amounts linked to some of the projects that would be finalised this year. So the Department only took what it wanted to prioritise for the interventions linked to the support of waste-pickers during the pandemic.

Ms Judy Beaumont, DDG: Oceans and Coast, DEFF, responded to the stakeholder process in the South Durban Basin. She indicated that the Department did have a number of stakeholder processes in oceans and coast in various programmes – such as the marine protected areas management plans. This forum was a part of them. So far these forums had been conducted virtually but since not everyone could access these forums, the Department was initiating extensive media communication on it. Once travelling was permitted stakeholder engagement would continue properly.

On the budget for ocean economy programmes, she said the Department had done its best to limit the impact of budget cuts on the ocean economy programmes. In some instances the Department had had to reduce its consultancy budgets; where that had been necessary, work was being done in-house.

On the livelihoods of the small-fishers she indicated that this would be submitted in writing to the Committee.

Minister Creecy mentioned that she was aware of the issues in the high-level panel as it was brought to her attention by the chair of the panel. She was currently attending to the matter.

Mr Munzhedzi said that there had been concern about the impact of the pandemic arising from wildlife. He indicated that there was work done by TRAFFIC that had shown what the impact was (international organisation). The Department had also worked with SANBI and other related agencies to find out more on this issue. A study was being commissioned to create and analyse data with the view to informing anything associated with trade moving to the future.

He stated that it was an exaggeration by the media that South Africa had a high-scale of wet markets; this was not the case. He added that the Department was currently involved with the OneHealth Programme which included the Department of Health and other international partners. Within this programme, there was a national committee as well as an international platform where issues of environmental health and human health were integrated. He also mentioned that any aspect of trade had an embedded element of risk management, whether it was veterinary requirements or not. But the Department recognised that it needed to strengthen in this area as new information emerges from scientific studies.

On the question of biodiversity programmes with traditional leaders, he clarified that this programme had not been stopped and would be pursued.

Minister Creecy clarified that the question on South Durban Basin related to air quality and not to oceans and coasts. She informed the Committee that the health study on the effects of the pollution in the South Durban Basin was at a conceptual stage. Once it was ready for implementation in the field, the Department would no longer have the current constraints.

Ms Frances Craigie, Chief Director: Enforcement, DEFF, touched on the slight budget cuts on programme two. She mentioned that compliance and enforcement across the whole environment spectrum did not just lie with national departments. Environmental management inspectors that were designated to assist with compliance and enforcement in the national department were also based in both the provincial departments and some of the local authorities. There was currently a network of 3 400 inspectors across the country. Whilst the Department‘s inspectors were in charge of monitoring against the permits and licenses they issued, the provincial EMI’s were doing the work in the provinces. During the lockdown within the departmental network, both communication and efficiency had become better. The Department did not view the budget cuts as affecting the work that it had to do.

On the Muthi Markets, the Department had conducted operations in the markets to understand what exactly was occurring there. Awareness-raising sessions with traditional healers and leaders had also been done. There had been a compliance monitoring process, and the enforcement process had begun around the markets. The Department had noted that with Covid-19, illegal trade had intensified, and it was currently monitoring this development. With the large number of donor funding for illegal animal trading, the Department had tapped into these streams to assist its initiatives. Several projects were on the table to assist with wildlife zones and also with assisting wildlife crime in the country.

Mr Sedumo mentioned that the Department had currently spent R17 million on PPE, of which R12 million was spent on ICT services – to enable staff to work outside of the office and for ICT security. Under the current year, the Department had a budget of R6 million to assist with the purchase of PPE and it might need more in the future.

On programme seven he said that in net terms that programme had received R33.8 million, which had increased. The confusion was that internally there was a movement of R65 million and the Department had also given away R24 million in the project. The Department had also reprioritised R73 million for the waste-pickers. The Department would provide a written response to clarify the confusion. He also mentioned that a written response on the Ocean Coasts would be provided to the Committee.

Minister Creecy asked Mr Singh to clarify if he was referring to the contractual obligations that the Department no longer wanted to be involved in.

Mr Singh stated that it was the ones that the Department no longer wanted, and those it was tied up with and had to pay.

Mr Sedumo indicated that an analysis on this issue had been done and that the Department had not been able to negotiate out of any of its contracts. The Department rather had to maintain EPWP contracts despite its insistence. Instead of pursuing methods to exit their contracts, the Department had, instead, delayed the deliverables so the contracts were extended with regard to time and not money.

Minister Creecy stated that all questions on Fisheries would be answered in writing. On small-scale fishing cooperatives, she explained that anyone who had a fishing right had to pay for their license and this money would go into the marine living resources fund. Commercial fishing throughout the lockdown period had been an essential service; the fishers had therefore been continuing to pay their licence.

On the question of why the provision of licenses had only been in the Western Cape, she explained that it only referred to small-scale fishing cooperatives. In the previous financial year, licenses were provided to fishers in the rest of the country. In the Western Cape this process had been delayed because the applicants asked for an internal audit as they were of the opinion that the way the process had been handled was improper. Indeed the internal audit did reveal the same rules did not apply to everyone. The report as well as the remedial action was being finalised and once this was done, licenses would be given to small-scale fishing cooperatives. The Department wanted to end giving interim licenses to Western Cape small-scale fishing cooperatives, in order to ensure that they had 15-year rights like the rest of the country.

On the question of staffing, she indicated that in both the entities and the branches, the Department had identified the crucial posts that must be filled and also those that could be put on hold, in order to prevent increasing the wage bill. SANParks had done its own cost containment measures in light of the budget cuts.

The Chairperson asked if there were any further questions.

Ms Gantsho asked how far the process was in appointing a new DG.

Minister Creecy indicated that the post of DG had been advertised and the advert closed on 29 June 2020. Currently, the relevant HR staff component was compiling and screening the applicants. Screened applicants would then be submitted. The public service regulations required the Minister to set up a panel, compromising her, the Deputy Minister, two other Ministers and the incumbent DG. Candidates who complied, in terms of the public service regulations, would be shortlisted and then interviewed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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