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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
11 March 2005
DEPARTMENT BUDGET 2005/06: DELIBERATIONS
Chairperson: Ms E Thabethe (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Budget Overview and Key Objectives of Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism Summary Document [email email@example.com for document]
Department Budget 2005/06
Environmental Affairs and Tourism Budget Vote: Department briefing on 24/03/05
Environmental Affairs And Tourism Budget Overview And Key Activities: Vote 27
The Committee considered the Department budget and strategic plan on which they had been briefed on 24 February with a view to submitting a Committee Report on it prior to the 6 April debate in the National Assembly on the Department’s Budget. The Department was present to answer questions raised by the Committee about the Department’s six programmes: Administration; Environmental Quality and Protection; Marine and Coastal Management; Tourism; Biodiversity and Conservation; and Social Responsibility and Projects.
In the ensuing deliberations, Members enquired about aspects of the Environmental Quality Protection programme, specifically about the carbon emission reduction targets and climate change. There were also questions about the granting of fishing quotas, the new regulations on this matter and the provision of skills training projects for people who had not received quotas. Questions were also asked about the Transfrontier National Parks project, the Department’s contribution to the Expanded Public Works Programme and whether the people involved were acquiring the appropriate skills in order to find permanent work once they had left.
Department Budget Overview and Key Objectives Summary Document
The Committee considered the Department budget using a document prepared by the Committee Researcher which provided an overview and summary of the Department’s budget as presented to the Committee on 24 February. Questions raised by the Committee on that date were also included.
The document outlined the total budget of the Department for 2005/2006, which was R1 723 111 000, and its specific programmes:
1) The Administration programme was responsible for overseeing the management of the Department. In 2005/2006 it would be responsible hosting conferences, improving service delivery and launching the national environmental awareness campaign. Its budget allocation for 2005/2006 would be R143 015 000, which was a nominal increase of 11.57% from 2004/2005.
2) The Environmental Quality and Protection Programme was responsible for: enforcing environmental quality and protection regulations; pollution and waste management; financial contributions to the SA Weather Service; and financial assistance to Buyisa-e-Bag. In 2005/2006 this programme would be responsible for implementing the National Environmental Air Quality Bill; promoting waste minimisation and awareness through Buyisa-e-Bag; and cleanup operations at Thor Chemicals. The programme would be allocated a budget of R196 442 000 in 2005/2006.
3) The Marine and Coastal Management programme would be co-operating closely with law enforcement agencies in 2005/2006 to increase the number of arrests for illegally harvested marine resources. It was also responsible for purchasing and operating coastal patrol vessels. Other projects included the Antarctic and Island Research, and the Langebaan coastal erosion project. This programme’s budget would decline by 18.44% to R278 415 000 in 2005/2006.
4) The Tourism programme was responsible for tourism support, development and funding. It would be allocated R403 333 000 in 2005/2006.
5) The Biodiversity and Conservation programm responsibilities included: conservation management; biodiversity and heritage conservation; and establishing and maintaining the Transfrontier Conservation Areas and other protected areas. The programme’s budget for 2005/2006 would be R 287 612 000, which represented a 16,63% nominal increase from 2004/2005.
6) The Social Responsibility and Project programme was mainly comprised of the Department’s contribution to the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). Through programme undertook responsibility for the Antarctic and Island Research; government motor transport; poverty relief projects; and job creation in the environmental and tourism sectors. The programme was also responsible for assisting small and medium sized enterprises with training, specifically in the tourism sector. Its budget for 2005/2006 would be R414 000 000.
Environmental Quality and Protection programme
Mr G Morgan (DA) asked if the Department was undertaking any project to deal with the problem of acid mine drainage, particularly in Gauteng.
Ms A Yako (Department Acting Director General) responded that the Department was not undertaking any project related to acid mine drainage.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked if the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) regulations were in place. She also asked if civil societies’ concerns regarding these regulations had been taken into account in the final draft.
Ms Yako responded that the Department was busy finalising the EIA regulations. They had been delayed because EIA application forms had been standardised. Civil societies' concerns had also been incorporated. The Department was hoping to have the regulations in place by 1 April, although there could possibly be further delays.
Mr Morgan asked what targets the Department had set for carbon emission reduction in 2005/2006. Did the Department have an understanding with the Department of Mineral Affairs and Energy around this issue.
Ms Yako responded that the Department had a climate change response strategy. The Minister would also be attending a G8 meeting and seminars in London on the issue of climate change. The Department was also undertaking research into the effects of climate change. The Department would be hosting a national seminar on climate change later in 2005. Cabinet was also expected to report at regular intervals on how it was dealing with climate change.
Marine Coastal Management programme.
Mr Morgan asked why spending on the Marine Coastal Management programme was expected to decline by 18.44% in 2005/2006.
Mr I Bouwer (Department Chief Financial Officer) replied that two new coastal patrol vessels were to be delivered. Payments on these vessels were now ending, and this was reflected in the reduction of 18.44 % in spending.
Mr D Olifant (ANC) asked if the mechanical problems of the ‘Sara Baartman’ patrol vessel had been repaired.
Mr Bouwer noted that the ‘Sara Baartman’ was still under guarantee. The supplier of the vessel had replaced the engine and so the mechanical problem had been dealt with.
Mr Olifant noted that when fishing quotas were awarded, jobs were created. Was the Department keeping any record of these jobs? Mr L Greyling (ID) then asked what happened to the fishing people who did not receive quotas. Was the Department providing alternative skills training so that these people could find employment?
Mr M Kamoetie (Department Chief Director: Strategic Support Management) responded that the Department did have records of the people who had received fishing quotas. These records would inform who would be allocated quotas in the future. Those who had received the quotas, but had never used them themselves would not receive new quotas. This would limit the problem of front companies using quotas given to other individuals. The Department was seeking to get people who had not received quotas involved in the tourist industry or aquaculture.
The Chairperson asked why the Department would remove the quotas from people who had not used them. Perhaps some people had not used them because of a lack of financial resources and assistance. Mr Greyling also believed that the problem of front companies was caused by the quota system itself, as quotas were inter-transferable. To take away quotas was not a solution.
Mr Kamoetie stated that the concerns raised about the quotas by the Committee would be included in the process of drafting the new quota regulations.
Mr Greyling asked what happened to illegally harvested marine resources that were confiscated.
Mr Kamoetie noted that the Department sold confiscated marine resources through companies that had received tenders to do so. The money earned from this was then allocated to the Marine Living Resources Fund.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) asked if the Department had planned or allocated funds to get the taxi industry involved in the Sho’t Left tourism initiative. He felt that if the Department had, it would advance the Black Economic Empowerment aims of the Department.
Mr Yako replied that the taxi industry had been involved in the marketing of the Sho’t Left initiative. She felt that perhaps the taxi industry could be approached to act as a transport service provider in the initiative.
Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) asked for an update on the tour guide training project that the Department had undertaken. She also enquired if the learner guides were being taught a foreign language.
Mr Kamoetie replied that the training of tour guides from historically disadvantaged communities by the Department was underway. Some of these guides were also being taught foreign languages, such as French and Chinese.
Biodiversity and Conservation programme.
Mr Morgan enquired about the expenditure priorities of the Transfrontier Parks initiative, specifically with regards to infrastructure, such as border posts and roads. He also asked if there would be an increase in expenditure on the Transfrontier Park initiative.
Ms Yako replied that in 2002, the Department had undertaken an infrastructure and tourism development plan for the Great Limpopo Transfrontier Park. This plan was being revised and an investor conference was also being planned to attract capital to the Park. Already, there were plans underway to link the Limpopo Park with the Kruger National Park. Linking this new Greater Park with Gonarezhou National Park, in Zimbabwe, was also part of the long-term Transfrontier project. Part of this, would involve infrastructure development at Gonarezhou. There was also an initiative at the Kruger Park to improve the border gate between Mozambique and South Africa. Construction of the border post on the South African side had already been completed.
Mr Morgan commented that he was concerned about the planned link between the Kruger and Gonarezhou. This was because there were outstanding land claims cases that could effect the link. There was also a prevalence of cattle and an overabundance of elephant in Gonarezhou. He enquired if, in the light of this, there would be a problem linking the Kruger with Gonarezhou.
Ms Yako replied that the overpopulation of elephant was a problem in the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa, not just in Zimbabwe. There was a joint Conservation Committee that looked at such conservation issues. She also believed that conservation officials in Zimbabwe had the ability to manage the problem. Therefore, she felt that these issues should not hinder the linking of Gonarezhou and the Kruger. The land claims cases were a problem, but these had to be managed.
Mr Mokoena questioned if landmines were a problem in the Mozambican National Parks. He also asked if the Department would be involved financing the de-mining of these Parks.
Ms Yako responded that money had been secured by the Mozambique government from a German organisation for the de-mining programme in its Parks. At this stage the Department would not be involved in financing the de-mining of Mozambican Parks.
The Chairperson then asked if the Members had any enquiries about the Social Responsibility and Projects programme.
Ms Chalmers and Mr Morgan noted that the Department’s contribution to the Expanded Public Works Programme (EPWP) had created temporary jobs. They asked if there had been an evaluation of whether the skills that people gained in these temporary jobs helped them find permanent employment. Related to this, did the Department keep a database and monitor the people who had left the temporary employment offered by the Department’s EPWP?
Ms Yako replied that the Department did not have a mechanism to track all the people who had worked and gained skills through the EPWP. It was something that the Department needed to consider implementing. It would, however, be difficult to monitor and track so many people. It was also planned that the new EPWP would monitor and evaluate the quality of the courses offered in the whole programme, not just those in the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. This would be undertaken by the Human Science Research Council.
Ms M Ntuli (ANC) asked if it was possible for the Department to employ and train more people through its EPWP.
Ms Yako replied that the Department had received more money for job creation and it was, therefore, theoretically possible to hire more people. The main challenge, however, was to covert the current temporary jobs into permanent jobs.
Mr Greyling enquired about the status of the National Action Programme (NAP) based on the United Nations Convention on Combating Desertification (UNCCD). He asked if the Department was ready to submit it to the Secretariat. He also asked if the issue of broad consultation had been addressed.
Ms Yako noted that the NAP document had been completed in 2004. The Deputy Minister had held a workshop on the NAP document in 2004, where he received further input from the stakeholders. It was planned that the document would be given to Cabinet in the near future for final endorsement. It would then be submitted and the NAP would be implemented.
Social Responsibility and Projects
Mr Greyling enquired if any of the NAP projects fell under the Department’s Social Responsibility programme. He felt that projects from the NAP, such as organic farming, could benefit communities that had a relationship with the Department’s Social Responsibility programme.
Mr M Moss (ANC) noted that a poverty relief project had been undertaken in Velddrift. This project involved an old factory being converted into a community-run craft and tourism initiative. Unfortunately, it seemed that it had failed to live up to expectations. He asked what would happen to this project.
Ms Yako responded that she did not have the details of the Velddrift project on hand. She would, however, pass these onto the Committee at a later stage.
Mr Mokoena noted that money had been allocated by the Department to fund the Antarctic and Island Research project. He asked if it was possible to rather use this money for a loan fund for fisher people to start small businesses. This was because it was hard for these people to get loans from banks.
Ms Yako replied that one could not simply take money from one project and allocate it to another. Mr Kamoetie added that the Department was seeking to give long-term quotas, of eight to fifteen years, to fishing people. They could then use these long-term quotas as a form of collateral at the banks. In this way they could finance their businesses. The Department was also investigating a model to provide business skills training to small businesses in the fishing industry.
Mr Mokoena stated that it was one thing for the Department to provide long-term quotas, but would the banks really view these quotas as collateral? Fisher people needed finance, and the Department somehow needed to link the quotas with finance. He then stated that the Department of Science and Technology should perhaps be providing the bulk of the funding for the Antarctic and Island Research project, not the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism.
Mr Kamoetie replied that the Business Trust and the Department had formulated a programme to guide people in starting up and maintaining businesses in the tourism industry. The Department was considering extending this programme to the fishing industry. This would also mean that there would be start-up funding available to small businesses in the fishing industry.
Mr Moss observed that there had been a project in the Western Cape to undertake repair work on some harbours. The Department of Public Works awarded the tender, but the financing of this project was undertaken by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism. He noted that he had already discovered two harbours where this repair work had been halted. He asked what had happened to these projects. He also asked when the Department would take full control of the project.
Mr Bouwer noted that the Department had realised that there were problems with the harbour repair project and had, therefore, approached the Treasury to get funding for the project . This was despite the fact that the harbours were not the assets of the Department. The Department had also met with the Department of Public Works and indicated that this project needed to succeed. The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism had also allocated money to the high priority repair projects so that they could be completed. The Department had undertaken this because it realised the tourism potential of harbours.
Ms C Zikala (IFP) enquired how a person qualifies for funding if they wished to start a project. She also asked what happened if the project was not successful.
Ms Yako replied that the Department did not fund individuals, but rather community initiatives. The Department was also seeking to consider how the projects it funded related to the municipality’s priorities in the areas that the projects were situated. It was no use, for example, funding a tourism project when a municipality did not have a tourist marketing programme. The initiative would simply fail.
The Chairperson noted that all the points had been considered. The secretary would compile a draft Committee Report on the Department Budget by 15 March. The discussions and questions asked in this meeting would be included in the report. The Committee would meet on 15 March to decide on the adoption of the report. She also requested that the Department return to provide greater detail on its poverty relief projects.
The meeting was adjourned.
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