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PUBLIC SERVICES SELECT COMMITTEE
18 February 2004
EXPANDED PUBLIC WORKS PROGRAMME: DEPARTMENT BRIEFING
Chairperson: Ms P Majodina
Documents handed out
Expanded Public Works Programme (PowerPoint presentation)
The Department presented details of the Expanded Public Works Programme. The national government had earmarked R15 billion for this job-creation initiative, which would be distributed by local government. The Committee emphasised that these projects had to be monitored so that the money was spent correctly.
The Chair welcomed the Director-General but also stated that the Committee's interaction with the Department had been regrettably minimal in the past. They had made a commitment that interaction would be more vibrant in the future. They had been requesting the asset register from the Department for some time to no avail.
The Director-General, Mr Maseko, apologised that so little interaction had not taken place and was willing to provide the asset register. He then addressed the Committee on the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) as detailed in the Powerpoint presentation attached.
The Chair asked about the status of the Community-based Works Programme (CBWP) and how it fitted into the EPWP. She also asked whether the programme was sustainable. Capacity building was important. She also questioned how the EPWP linked up with the IDP of local governments.
Mr Maseko said that the CBWP was nearing the end of its lifecycle. In future, money would be sent to municipalities directly. Government's expenditure had increased to R350 billion to ensure that it was sustainable. An office would be opened in the Department to monitor and provide support to implementing agencies. All implementation would take place through local governments and some provincial governments. Key projects would be existing projects in the municipalities. Mr Maseko emphasised that this was not an 'RDP central fund'. The EPWP would monitor whether capacity building was taking place. The DPLG would set up project management units to improve capacity in communities so that government programmes can be implemented.
Ms B Thompson (ANC) mentioned that the DG had mentioned that the political will of the Minister and Premiers was important. Members also wanted to be part of the projects since they represented the provinces. They would like to see the end of the situation that one company, Siyazama, was being used for so many public works programmes.
Mr Maseko said that it was an oversight not to include members and correctional efforts would be made. He did not know about Siyazama, but said that they would try not to use the same people in projects.
Rev. M Chabaku (ANC) said that the policies around labour-intensive programmes should be redefined. The target market for these programmes should include the illiterate and mothers.
Mr Maseko said that progress had been made as far as labour-intensive methods were concerned. At NEDLAC, working conditions had been clearly spelled out so that no exploitation could take place. The programme was targeting the unemployed with a special emphasis on the youth and women.
Mr Windvoel (ANC) said that the Department should learn from the problems that had been encountered in the Community-based Works Programme. Many times money had been "dumped" towards the end of the financial year because it had not been spent. Money had to be spent where it was most needed.
Mr Maseko said that the money would be fed to the municipalities. The management unit would assist local governments to spend the money on the correct projects.
Mr Sulliman said that this briefing was important as it showed what government was doing to address unemployment. He pointed however that only ANC members were present and that the media was not present. This made one wonder how important they regarded the meeting. He asked Mr Maseko whether the roadworks mentioned were only 'a drop in the ocean'. Many times local governments did not use their conditional grants. He asked if there was a safety net to ensure that this would not happen.
Mr Maseko said that the roadworks mentioned were just some of the projects. The total amount spent would be more than R15 billion. The conditional grants could only be used for the projects identified. If this was not done, the managing office would deal with the situation.
Mr Windvoel (ANC) said that information was needed on when the finance would go to local governments. The latter had a different financial year to the national and provincial governments and it was therefore difficult for them to budget.
Mr Maseko said that the information was available. A schedule was available as spelled out in the Distribution of Revenue Act (DORA). The funds would reach local governments by 1 July 2004.
Rev P Moatshe (ANC) asked whether enough training of high quality was taking place, and what kind of data was available.
Mr Maseko said that people not only received on-the-job training, but also additional life skills. Training was a major challenge and needed to be planned carefully. The Department of Labour was responsible for most of the training - they would have data on this - and the relevant SETA also ensured quality.
Rev. Chabaku (ANC) said that many projects were not being implemented and that monitoring was very important.
Mr Maseko agreed and said they would see that monitoring was done.
Ms Dlulane (ANC) said that national government was also involved in projects and asked how people could become involved in these. She was also concerned that people would remain jobless after they had been involved in the programmes.
Mr Maseko said that national departments were responsible for their own projects, such as the Department of Transport for national roads. These were not part of the EPWP. Additional training was given to those involved in projects.
Ms Thompson (ANC) asked if there was a specific programmes for emerging contractors. She also requested that the tender documents be simplified so that people could access these jobs. It was important that emerging contractors access the work that could bring in substantial income. Previously advantaged contractors were still receiving the jobs that brought in big money. This had to change.
Mr Maseko said that they dealt with the construction SETA which organised learnerships in the construction industry. He admitted that they were not doing enough to simplify documents. There was however an Emerging Contractor Development Programme to support emerging contractors. They were trying to give previously disadvantaged contractors more work.
The Chair asked if there was a quota for youth and women that would be employed in the programme. She referred to the problem of soil erosion in different part of the country, and asked if this was also being addressed as it affected poor subsistence communities.
Mr Maseko said that there was such a quota which formed part of the code of good practice. The environmental section of the EPWP would attend to the landcare problem. He referred to a project in Kwazulu-Natal that had used families to build and maintain sections of road. This project had been very successful. A workshop was being planned so provinces should share their different experiences.
Mr Makoela (ANC) asked if the contractors first underwent training and how long it would take before the programme got underway.
Mr Maseko said that some of the projects were already underway and that training would take place soon.
Mr Sulliman (ANC) asked what contribution the private sector was making to the programme.
Mr Maseko said that he was not sure what kind of resources business had made available, although certain promises had been made. They would have to go back to NEDLAC for this.
The Chair said that they were looking forward to the EPWP and thanked the Department. She also asked that the Committee be invited to the workshop with the provinces as this was their responsibility.
The meeting was adjourned.
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