Department 2006/07 Budget and Strategic Plan: briefing

Water and Sanitation

28 March 2006
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Meeting report

WATER AFFAIRS AND FORESTRY PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 March 2006
DEPARTMENT 2006/07 BUDGET AND STRATEGIC PLAN: BRIEFING
 


Chairperson: Ms CC September (ANC)

Documents handed out:

DWAF Strategic plan for 2006/07
DWAF Budget Vote 34
DWAF Water Services Programme
DWAF Policy and Strategy: Part
1, 2 & 3
DWAF Turn-around Human Resources Strategy
DWAF Water Resources Strategy

SUMMARY
The Department of Water Affairs and Forestry briefed the Committee on its 2006/07 budget and strategic plan. Members raised questions about the Department’s ability to reach delivery targets, its internal capacity, empowerment of local authorities, the type of sanitation to be provided to communities and the transfer and sale of state forests and plantations.

MINUTES
Department of Water Affairs and Forestry (DWAF) presentation
Mr Trevor Balzer (Acting Chief Financial Officer) explained to the Committee that the administration expenditure trends rose steadily at an average annual rate of 15.3% from R292 million in 2002/03 to R447 million in 2005/06, partly due to the devolution of funds from the Department of Public Works. The increases in expenditure in 2005/06 were the result of funds rolled over and an additional R66.5 million to cover the costs of transferring water services operations to local government.

He further explained that the water resources management expenditure grew at an annual average rate of 15% from R1.1 billion in 2002/03 to R1.6 billion in 2005/06. The forestry expenditure increased from R403.3 million in 2002/03 to R440.2 million in 2008/09, an average annual increase of 1%, with peak spending in 2004/05 at R466.6 million. The increase was due to a R38 million claim granted to Yorkcor in terms of a court judgement on the cancellation of a long-term timber supply contract.

Ms T Mbassa from DWAF indicated that the Department’s priorities were making sure that the public has access to functioning basic water, eradication of all bucket toilets by 2008 and the transfer of all the assets of water services schemes to Water Services Authorities by 2008.

Ms D Mochotlhi from DWAF informed the Committee that the Department planned to implement a forest enterprise development strategy and to be part of regional colloboration on sustainable forest management.

Discussion

Mr JD Arendse (ANC) asked DWAF to explain why there was a 5% drop in the 2006/07 Forestry budget, yet the projection was for a 5% increase in the 2007/08 budget.

Mr Balzer explained that he had dealt with this in his presentation. He elaborated that annually the DWAF received additional allocations from the adjustment appropriations budget. That allocation was not reflected in the baseline figures. That is why in comparison with 2005/06 and 2006/07 the Members of the Committee saw a 5% drop, but in 2006/07 and 2007/08 that 5% is a normal increase in the budget projections as allowed for in the baseline figures.

Mr Arendse further asked DWAF to provide the Committte with a breakdown of the remuneration of employees.

Mr Balzer explained that as far as employee remuneration was concerned, approximately 6.5% of the money allocated related to provision for salary increases.

Mr Arendse pointed out that there was an amount of R170 million put aside for refurbishment and emergency water supply. However, also in the same budget, there was an allocation made specifically for refurbishment. Why were certain refurbishments listed under the money put aside for emergency water supply?

Mr Balzer explained that the R170 million that was put aside for emergency water supply was specifically put aside for repair to flood-damaged infrastucture. That is why it was listed as refurbishment and emergency water supply.

Mr ZJ Kati (ANC) asked what protection policies were. He also asked for an explanation why the DWAF had set aside about R1.3 billion for the operation of water services at local government level.

Mr Kati pointed out that DWAF had not really explained what support for water services in Africa entailed. He also wanted reassurance about the quality of drinking water in South Africa. He commented on the scarcity of water in South Africa, wanting to know if DWAF was looking into the option of tapping underground water.

Mr J Sindane (DWAF) explained that the quality of drinking water in South Africa was high, but for the DWAF to keep those standards high, they needed to make sure they supplied municipalities with infrastructure that would enable them to maintain the high standards. That means the Department had to budget for it. It became even more important when taking into consideration that about 78 municipalities did not have enough technicians and engineers, and as a result those municipalities needed assistance from water boards.

Mr Sindane pointed out that at the World Water Forum great emphasis was placed on exploring the option of underground water. In South Africa, underground water used to be privately owned, but it was now part of public water resources. When the DWAF referred to integrated water resource management that included underground water. He added that since South Africa was a water scarce country, most of the water provided by many municipalities consisted of underground water.

Ms S Simmons (DA) pointed out the Committee was concerned about the transfer of the implementation role to local government and the fact that the DWAF required more funds to reach their goals.

Mr Sindane explained that the transfer of responsibility to provide services to communities to municipalities had been done because the South African Constitution demanded this. However, the DWAF was working closely with the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) to make sure that the transfer of responsibilities occurred properly.

Ms Simmons asked who was responsible for the Department not reaching its goals. She asked what would happen if measures were put in place to monitor the Municipal Infrastructure Grants (MIGs) provided to local government. She remarked that in a presentation by the DWAF earlier in March 2006, the Department had stated that it had no recourse if the funds were not spent properly. How did the Department plan to deal with this problem?

Mr Sindane explained that the DWAF monitored the spending patterns of municipalities, and where the municipalities were underspending, the DWAF informed them of this fact. In those instance, the DWAF asked municipalities if they needed assistance to spend their allocations.

Mr Arendse noted that in the part of the presentation that dealt with expenditure trends for water resources management, there was a sentence that read as follows: "the strong growth is due to additional funds for the capital funding of dam safety and the construction of a new dam." A while ago the Committee had received a presentation on the Dam Building Programme for 2025. Was the new dam part of this programme?

Mr Sindane confirmed that the new dam formed part of the Dam Building Programme for 2025. He explained that the new dam was part of about 16 to 19 dams that the DWAF planned to build over the next 20 years.

The meeting was adjourned.



 

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