In a virtual meeting, the Standing Committee on the Premier and Constitutional Matters considered and adopted the Western Cape Adjustment Appropriation Bill of 2020: Department of the Premier.
Members wanted the Department’s perspective on what the impact of budget cuts would be on individual programmes. It was remarked it was clear there has been a reduction of R73.6 million and the vast majority of the amount relates to the compensation of employees. The Committee wanted to know if there were non-profit organisations (NPOs) that had been identified for funding and wanted to establish if online training has been considered and asked at what point the Department will pay for Microsoft licences. It wanted to establish if the budget cuts on compensation of employees(CoE) meant a wage freeze and if this meant that new appointments would not be made that were allocated in March. The Committee asked what the estimated time was for the resumption of the broadband. It asked for clarity regarding the location of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the number of people who would be employed, the name of the Commissioner, and if a communication campaign has been conducted so that people understand the service that is being offered by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner.
The budget of the Premier was supported by the ANC expressed its minority view.
Premier Alan Winde informed the Committee the budget vote adjustment reflected a reduction of R73.6 million. This was mainly due to COVID-19, hence the Department needing to present its adjusted budget because its budget had to be realigned. For the interests of time, he felt it best to get to the actual line items and asked the Director-General (DG) if he had anything to add.
Dr Harry Malila, Director-General (DG), Western Cape Government, stated a sum of R4.8 million has been shifted for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. None of the money would be lost. The Department had R8 million for the Children’s Commissioner and R4.8 million is being moved to next year. The balance of R3.2 million would cover for salaries and goods and services. As an update on the Children’s Commissioner, the salary level fifteen posts have been filled and there is a proposal to fill other posts including the salary level eight posts by January 2021 at the latest. The Department was trying to find an appropriate accommodation for the Office of the Children’s Commissioner to commence her work next year.
Mr C Dugmore (ANC) remarked it was clear there has been a reduction of R73 million and that the vast majority of this amount is related to issues to do with the Compensation of Employees (CoE). A certain portion of the money has been returned to provincial treasury. He asked for the Department to give the Committee a sense of what the most serious impact in terms of each of the programmes could be in light of the reductions. Based on page one of the attached document, he asked what the reduction will affect the most in terms of executive governance, strategic management, the Corporate Services Centre, Centre for E-innovation (CEI) and corporate assurance. He wanted to know where the Department sees the most serious impact, if any, in terms of the actual amounts which total up to being R73 million. On page two, he noted the amount of R1.5 million to non-profits which will now not be allocated. He wanted to know if there had been NPOs that had already been identified to receive the R1.5 million, or whether the allocation had not yet been made such that no non-profit is expecting the money.
Dr Malila said the biggest part in budget reduction related to the CoE. This was done according to National Treasury requirements in order to curtail the salaries of public servants. He further stated the R1.5m earmarked for NPOs has been shifted to the Department of Economic Development for the provision of the same services to NPOs. He also stated programme 5 has been impacted because R1,5m has been repurposed for communication regarding COVID-19 A communication campaign had to be taken to the communities for COVID-19. He stated there have been budget shifts in programme 2 where money was realigned for the office of the children’s commissioner, on programme 3 the focus was on dealing with HR matters, while on programme money was prioritised for COVID -19 matters.
The Chairperson wanted to establish if there has been consideration to look at online training, and asked at what point the Department will pay for Microsoft licences.
Mr P Marais (FF+) commended Premier Winde for the way he handled COVID-19. He could tell that he had put 200% into the adjustment budget and thanked him for the work done in his team in spite of budget. He indicated he supports the budget however he needed to leave the meeting. He wished the Premier God’s richest blessings.
The Chairperson wished Mr Marais safe travels.
Dr Malila explained there was realignment of the budget. The Department received R14 million for software systems and computer services. Money for licensing has been repurposed. It was a technical issue, especially when you look at the uncertainty in the exchange rate. He further stated the Department has repurposed some of the courses and was now offering some hybrid e-learning courses.
Mr Dugmore wanted to establish if the budget cuts on CoE were anticipating a wage freeze and if new appointments would not be made that were allocated in March.
Dr Malila indicated it’s a combination of both. He said an amount of R2.3 billion was cut from national. The deducted amount relates to increases that are not going to be made and certain positions that would not be continued with. Staff is being repurposed to do the work. The wage freeze is the decision of National Treasury. If an appointment has to be made, it has to be motivated to ensure it is essential, and has to be approved by the budget committee.
Mr Dugmore asked for clarity regarding the location of the Office of the Children’s Commissioner, the number of people who would be employed, the name of the Commissioner, and if a communication campaign had been conducted so that people understand the service that is being offered by the Office of the Children’s Commissioner. He asked that the Committee be given a breakdown of NPOs that had benefited and amounts given to them; and he asked if the department was continuing with installation of public-wi-fi in communities and asked if the committee could be furnished with breakdown of communities that were benefiting from this programme and level of data required to be allocated daily.
Dr Malila explained the Children’s Commissioner was appointed in June. A number of activities have already taken place, including the branding of the office. The Commissioner’s name is Christina Nomdo and she has personal assistant. 11positions have been earmarked to help with running and administration of the Children’s Commissioner. The Commissioner has already identified a place that would ensure that her offices are child-friendly. All formal processes are now taking place in order to secure the place for her office. He also indicated he would respond in writing regarding questions about public Wi-Fi and NPOs.
Mr R Allen (DA) asked what the estimated time was for the resumption of the broadband.
Dr Malila said there have been restrictions on approvals. The money that was taken away this year from the project would be allocated next year as per the Department’s agreement with National Treasury.
Mr Dugmore wanted establish the functions of the area-based teams for safety.
Dr Malila stated these teams have been established in areas frequented by tourists to ensure safety and this would be done in collaboration with municipalities in order to boost economy.
The Committee resolved that it should be forwarded the following reports by the department:
- latest report on broadband
- latest report on the Office of the Children’s Commissioner
- latest report on safety ambassadors
- list of community wi-fi hotspots and breakdown of data taken daily and monthly
- list of NPOs earmarked for funding
The Chairperson then asked for the input of Members on the budget.
Mr Allen supported the budget.
Mr Dugmore expressed a minority view not to support the budget.
The Committee supported the budget of the Department of the Premier.
Adoption of Minutes dated 24 November 2020
The Chairperson took Members the document, page-by-page.
Ms W Philander (DA) moved for the adoption of the minutes.
Mr Allen seconded the motion.
The minutes were adopted with no amendments.
The meeting was adjourned.
Download as PDF
You can download this page as a PDF using your browser's print functionality. Click on the "Print" button below and select the "PDF" option under destinations/printers.
See detailed instructions for your browser here.