The Standing Committee on Finance, Economic Opportunities and Tourism (the Committee) of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament (WCPP) convened virtually to discuss the submissions received on the Unemployment Insurance Fund’s (UIF) Covid-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS) and the way forward for the public participation process. Furthermore, the Committee discussed the resolutions and adopted the report on the oversight visit to Transnet’s Port of Cape Town.
The public submitted 123 submissions concerning UIF-payments related complaints and requests for assistance to the Committee. Representatives of the UIF would have the opportunity to brief the Committee on 11 August 2021 regarding the progress on resolving enquires from the public.
The Committee expressed its dismay about the level of derelict and lack of general maintenance of the Cape Town Port. The Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) had been requested to present operational and turn around plans for the Cape Town Port. Additionally, a resolution was passed to investigate the reopening of the passenger terminal and to address the need for tighter management of the Cape Town Port.
The Chairperson opened the meeting by asking the Members to introduce themselves. No apologies had been received.
TERS funding and public participation processes
The Chairperson advised that the deadline for public submissions on TERS had closed. The Committee had received 123 submissions including from employers and individuals. The Members were requested to keep the information contained in the submissions, which had been distributed via e-mail, confidential as it was subjected to the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act.
The submissions had been sent to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) for a response to each individual requests for assistance and complaint received by the Committee. The UIF was asked to brief the Committee on the progress of all submissions received. The briefing was scheduled for 11 August 2021. References made to individuals and employers would, for example, be referred to as Employer 1 and Individual 1 to keep the names and information of individuals out of the public domain. Requests for oral submissions had not been received. The feasibility of oral submissions would be determined on 11 August 2021.
The Chairperson asked for input from the Members on whether oral submissions should be scheduled.
Mr A van der Westhuizen (DA) asked whether a summary of the nature of the complaints was available.
The Chairperson replied that a summary was not available and enquired from the Procedural Officer (PO), Ms Z Adams, whether a summary could be compiled.
The PO agreed to have a summary compiled by early the following week.
The Chairperson said the summary did not have to be lengthy but should contain the number and nature of the submissions.
Mr van der Westhuizen was of the opinion that engagements on the matter should be based on the most general problems that people experienced and not on outlier responses. The summary should add value to the discussions.
The Chairperson said although it was indicated that public hearings would specifically relate to Covid-TERS funding, all submissions had been directed to the UIF in order not to block progress on matters that people had concerns with. A member of the public, who dealt directly with the UIF, had copied the Committee in on the e-mail correspondence in case the UIF did not respond to the matter.
Ms M Maseko (DA) asked whether a check could be done per region to determine where the problems were centralised.
The Chairperson requested the PO to add an analysis of the addresses to the summary. She asked whether the PO could ask for assistance with the summary as she had been dealing with a lot of information over the past weeks.
The PO doubted whether she would be able to get assistance but promised to get the summary done by Tuesday, 10 July 2021.
The Chairperson asked the Senior PO, Ms L Cloete, whether assistance could be arranged for the PO.
The Senior PO said it was quite a big task and agreed to arrange assistance for the PO.
In response to the Chairperson’s question on the matter, the Members were in agreement to postpone discussions on oral submissions until after the UIF briefing.
Committee Report on oversight visit to Transnet’s Port of Cape Town
Mr van der Westhuizen noted that the corporatisation of the Transnet Port, referred to on page 2 of the report, was in line with legislation and the policy. His impression was that there had been serious delays in the announcement of the Council for the Transnet National Ports Authority (TNPA) and what was now being reported as huge improvements and positive prospects, should have happened a while ago.
The Chairperson explained that the reference to corporatisation was based on a statement made by the provincial Minister and which arose from a meeting where the President made an announcement on the corporatisation of the TNPA. She cautioned against amending the comments of the Minister and suggested that an opinion on the matter should be included either in the resolutions or noted as a general view of the Committee.
Mr van der Westhuizen disagreed that his comment was an opinion and argued that he wanted the facts on corporatisation to be stated in terms of legislation. The corporatisation was fulfilling a requirement and should not be considered as a progressive step. He proposed that the paragraph should include that the announcement was made by the President. His reading was that the comment was not a quote from the Minister’s speech. He conceded that should it be a summary of the Minister’s communication to the Committee, then the report could not include utterances that the Minister did not make.
The Chairperson requested that paragraph 2 should be changed to indicate that the announcement had been made by President Ramaphosa.
Ms Maseko asked whether the Minister referred to the President’s announcement and cautioned that what happened should be noted in the report and not what members assumed had happened.
The Chairperson proposed that in order to keep the information factual, the words ‘President Ramaphosa’, should be placed in square brackets. Should a view on the matter be required, it could be included in the resolutions.
Mr van der Westhuizen agreed to go along with the general consensus on the matter
In response to paragraph 6.1.1 of the report, Mr van der Westhuizen said he could not recall that the issue had been discussed in such detail. He sought clarity on whether the Committee needed to consider the accuracy of the information or if a resolution needed to be formulated.
The Chairperson confirmed that she requested the particular resolution in paragraph 6. 1.1 and that it was correctly recorded.
The report was adopted.
Resolutions and actions
The Chairperson indicated that further resolutions, which were not related to the discussions in the Transnet Port meeting, were on the table.
World Bank briefing
A proposal was made for the World Bank to brief the Committee on the Container Port Performance Index 2020 Report that was released in May 2021. Matters to be discussed included the indicators used for the rankings, reasons for the indicators and rankings assigned to the Cape Town Container Port Terminals and recommendations to improve the rankings of the TNPA Container Terminals and the Cape Town Multi-purpose Terminal.
Mr van der Westhuizen strongly supported the proposal and deemed it an excellent idea to get an objective, international perspective on the performance of the Cape Town Port.
Cyber security attack briefing
The Chairperson suggested that the TNPA as well as the relevant national departments be approached to brief the Committee on the recent cyber security attack on the ports, the impact it had on the Western Cape economy and what actions Transnet was considering dealing with the delays at the respective container terminals in the Western Cape.
Mr van der Westhuizen said it might be difficult to get the impact on the entire Western Cape economy. He was interested in the facts about the disruption in terms of when and how it happened, how it was discovered, how many days did the disruption last, how long it would take to catch up with the backlog, whether any ships decided not to board at Cape Town or any of the other ports. Furthermore, he enquired about the steps taken to prevent a reoccurrence and whether Transnet was using internal or external IT staff.
The Chairperson replied that the request would be amended to include the nature and reason for the cyber security attack on the ports, the impact on the Cape Town Port Terminals and what actions had been taken Transnet to prevent future attacks. The questions of Mr van der Westhuizen would be sent to Transnet for inclusion as a subsection in their presentation.
Ms Maseko agreed with the proposal including the questions from Mr van der Westhuizen which were expanding on the scope of the Chairperson’s request.
The Chairperson notified the Members of the following third term events and dates:
UIF briefing in response to submissions scheduled for 11 August 2021
Oversight visit to Pick n Pay Spaza Shop Programme by the Department of Economic Development scheduled for 25 August 2021
Gambling Board vacancies for which consultation with the Programming Committee was required regarding dates for a briefing and interviews.
Mr van der Westhuizen indicated that he still wanted to make a general comment regarding the previous resolution. He was of the opinion that the management and maintenance of the Cape Town Port left much to be desired. It was the oldest port for international shipping in South Africa and was beautifully situated in the Mother City. The level of derelict and lack of maintenance had a negative impact on what could otherwise have been an asset. He proposed that the Cape Town Port should once again be used as a passenger terminal once the Covid effects had been cleared. Comparing the Cape Town International Airport to the Cape Town Harbour was like chalk and cheese. He suggested that the Committee consider expressing an opinion on having the terminals being utilised for passenger services and on the need for upgrading, closer management and maintenance of the Cape Town Port.
The Chairperson replied that a request had been made for the operational and turn around plans of the Cape Town Port. A separate resolution could be added expressing the dismay of the Committee regarding the general maintenance and management of the TNPA Container Port Terminals. She proposed a resolution requesting a report on what would be required to reopen the port for passenger lines.
Mr van der Westhuizen said the term container should be omitted as the Container Terminals appeared more upgraded than the older part of the port which was being used for general goods.
The Chairperson replied that Mr van der Westhuizen was referring to the Multi-purpose Terminal which was separate from the Container Terminal Port. She proposed that Transnet Freight Rail also be invited to brief the Committee on the possible use of train transport as suggested by the TNPA and to assist with eradicating the backlog. The meeting could be scheduled to take place on the same day as the World Bank and cyber security briefings.
The Chairperson notified the members of a request from the NCOP regarding a Trade and Industry oversight visit scheduled for 17 to 20 August 2021. The invitation was limited to chairpersons in compliance to Covid-19 regulations.
The Chairperson suggested that topics, similar to that of the third quarter, be proposed for the fourth quarter. Dates for the fourth quarter had not yet been determined. A previous resolution was made in terms of value for money regarding public procurement as well as a briefing on the New Grant Framework which should be completed by the end of August 2021. In addition, a briefing on the Annual Public Procurement Disclosure Report by the Western Cape government was proposed by the Chairperson and agreed upon by the Members.
Other resolutions that needed to be completed included the rescheduling of the oversight visit to PetroSA in Mossel Bay and the invitation to the Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy regarding the Gas Programme Plan and the Independent Power Producer (IPP) office plan. She proposed that the matters be combined with the PetroSA visit in Mossel Bay.
Mr van der Westhuizen noted that the possibility of a visit to the Southern Cape was raised earlier this week in another committee meeting. He proposed that, if possible, the visits should be combined.
The Chairperson said it would be prudent to combine the visits by the two committees.
Ms Maseko agreed and confirmed that her committee was planning the visit to the Southern Cape.
The Chairperson advised that infrastructure was the focus for the upcoming cluster oversight week. As previously indicated in February 2020, visits would take place to the Informal Training Project by Department of Economic Development and Training in the Cape Agulhas area as well as the Work and Skills Placement Project in Floraland. Depending on available dates, visits to the programmes would be rescheduled to take place during the cluster week.
A proposal was made to combine the briefing regarding the Mobile Payment Systems in rural areas and assistance to Small Business Projects with the briefing on the Cape Town Tourism Recovery Plan, which had been approved and budgeted for by the respective councils.
The Chairperson submitted that a number of projects, for which briefings had previously been held, required physical oversight visits, i.e. the Tourism Product Development Fund, Small Business Booster Fund, Informal Trading Programme and the Skills Programme visits to False Bay College and the BPO Academy. The Committee needed to set aside one week for economic type visits and another week in January 2022 to focus on the skills type projects. The idea was to have a short briefing at Parliament before going on the site visits to establish how funding of the projects were being implemented.
Delta Airlines indicated that flights to Cape Town would be discontinued. A request was made for a briefing on the matter and to combine it with the briefing by Wesgro on film permits, remote working visas, electronic visas and the issuing of passports. This briefing might apply across departments and would involve the Office of the Premier and the Department of Home Affairs. The Members of the Committee was in agreement with this proposal.
The Chairperson thanked the Members and the PO’s for their contributions to the meeting.
The meeting was adjourned.
No related documents
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.