Restructuring of Department

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Trade, Industry and Competition

16 February 2000
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Meeting report

16 February 2000

This was the first address to the Portfolio Committee by Dr Alistair Ruiters, since his appointment as Director General in which he noted that he was looking forward to a constructive relationship with the Committee.

Assessment, mandate and new vision
Dr Ruiters stated that the Minister of the DTI, Alec Erwin, had spoken in December 1999 about future conceptual changes within the Department. This process would be participatory in order to involve everyone.

In a frank presentation, Dr Ruiters said that there the DTI's capacity and expertise was questionable in certain areas and often there was no clear sense of how to prioritise. The Department had initiated a process of introspection and evalaution to assess itself. Questions that had been considered by the department during internal evaluation were, for example:
How do the sectors relate to trade?
how did the DTI define its core investment activity?
How much money did it spend to attract investment?
What return did the DTI get from its 42 offices around the world?
How did one create a department that would deal with pressing issues in the SA economy?
How did the DTI aggregate its activities into programmes to measure output?

He noted that after the 1994 elections, the pre-1994 structure had remain unchanged with just a new activities added. There was a lot of duplication in the DTI, whist policy formulation capacity was weak. The structure of the DTI needed to be simplified so people could understand the work of this Department. A clear set of objectives were needed and redundant activity eliminated.

In order to arrive at a vision, the DTI had looked at various documents dealing with the RDP, GEAR, the President's speeches, grassroots pressure, government objectives and so on.

This detailed exercise in the DTI was ongoing and a work in progress. In the process they had arrived at a mission statement for the DTI:
"We aim to facilitate access to sustainable economic activity and employment for all South Africans, higher level of investment, market access, a fair and efficient market place for local and international business."
Thus their three core areas were: investment, market access, a fair and efficient market place.

The DTI was going to judge any project or directorate on certain criteria:
Are you adding value to the economy?
Are you contributing to international competitiveness?
Are you promoting small business?
Are you promoting black economic empowerment?
How are you developing the SADC region?
To what extent are you reducing economic inequality in SA?

He said this new mandate document would be finalised at the end of March. In the process a stronger management team was being created and a turning point had been reached in the department.

The Committee chairperson, Rob Davies, welcomed the spirit of self-criticism in the new Director General's presentation. The Director General said that he did not have all the answers now as it was a work in progress and he would not be issuing any documents at this stage as discussions were still sensitive.

The issues that the committee members raised dealt with: gender, the 42 trade desks, the empowerment of women, the promotion of small business, industrial strategy, the involvement of the provinces, poverty, a concern that there would not be just paperwork for 5 years, youth economic empowerment.

The chairperson noted that the introspection exercise must lead to implementation and not just a new conceptual framework. There needed to be measurable outputs.

The Director General said that the concerns of committee members regarding measurable outputs were important to him. Dr Ruiters reiterated that the committee needed extensive answers. "I don't have the answers you want" , he said frankly. He said the issues regarding gender, trade desks and tax holidays were on the agenda. The DTI had guidelines from Public Administration regarding gender. They intended producing a Women's Budget for the DTI.
He said the country needed growth, job creation, and the issue of poverty had to be addressed and there needed to be policy alignment. Thus a task team had been set up from various ministries (tourism, art & culture etc) to look at blockages in investment since this was a focus for South Africa.



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