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PUBLIC SERVICE SELECT COMMITTEE
13 June 2001
PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT BUDGET AND PROGRAMMES 2001/2
Chairperson: Ms Majodina
Presentation on the Budget Vote of the Department of Public Works
After the presentation of the 2001/2 Public Works programme, the issue of fronting, the non-allocation of funds to provinces, the Pilot Project for employment opportunities for youth and the disabled and the possible infrastructural improvements for the rural areas were discussed.
Mr Andile Sangqu, Deputy Director General of Finance, presented the Budget Vote for the Department of Public Works.
Ms Majodina (ANC) asked whether the Department is on track in terms of service delivery. She pointed out that the organigram for Public Works is not gender sensitive . Further, she asked if roll over funds are allocated to projects before actually being rolled over and finally she asked who takes control of the multi-purpose centers after they have been built.
Ms Joyce Rwadi (ANC) asked if there is a national database of disabled persons - and if so whether the youth are targeted for training or if there is a national programme. She also questioned the allocation of R900 000 to Gauteng Province and stressed that this allocation of funds was not sufficient. She remarked on the plight of the Department with regards to tenants who are vacating premises before their leases expire.
Mr Suilaman (ANC) was concerned that funds may not be utilised in the coming financial year and subsequently be rolled over. He asked whether the State Property Agency would be a private or public enterprise. Finally he asked why funds were not being allocated to the other provinces.
Mr Chikane (ANC) asked how the Department plans to minimise roll-over funds. He expressed concern over the Governments continued use of consultants and pointed out that the Department has used R20 million fruitlessly. Mr Chikane asked which communities had benefited from the R1 billion that the Department has spent.
Mr Sangqu insisted that the Department is monitoring it’s progress and is improving the quality of life of people. Further, he said that the Department is improving the gender balance in the Department by creating opportunities for upward mobility. He pointed out that the Department of Finance will not accept rollover money without a clear contract. In addition, the Department is attempting to solve the problem of vacating lessee’s by signing memorandums of understanding with client Departments. If a Department leaves a building before the contract expires, it will be responsible for paying the remaining lease. The Director Generals of each Department have created a strategy that attempts to ensure that there is no roll over of funds and that there is no dumping of money.
With regards to the State Property Agency, Mr Sangqu said that this Agency would act as the executing arm of government (a schedule 2 Company) and will be owned by government . The property which is being disposed of by the state at present is not part of State Property Agency.
In respect of the allocation of funds to the provinces, Mr Sangqu said that the Northern Cape has been allocated an amount of R1,5 Million . The state is focusing on disposing of farming land that it still owns. However, the State is sensitive to land claims and before any property can be disposed of, the Department checks to ensure that there are no land claims pending against that particular piece of land.
With regards to minimizing roll-overs, Mr Sangqu explained that the roll-overs have occurred because of managing resources and contracts demands expertise and there is a lack of expertise in the Department. Government remuneration does not attract people with the required level of skill. Hence the Department will have to rely on Consultants in the foreseeable future. He re-iterated that senior management within the Department is currently dealing with the problem of lessee’s vacating premises and failing to pay the remaining rental.
Ms Lydia Bici ( Deputy-Director, Department Public Works) said that a number of programmes focusing on rural development have been implemented. Multi-purpose centers are being built and it becomes the responsibility of local government to manage these centers with the assistance of other State Departments. The Department uses a formula of Statistics SA to target the most needy areas. All pubic buildings must be accessible to disabled persons and the projects have become very labour intensive. The budget for urban renewal is funded from National Local Government, whilst the Greening Project is peri-urban and funded by Public Works. The Department has reduced the budget for consultants by 50%.
Mr Mokotedi (Deputy Director, Department of Public Works) explained that the issue of consultants is a contentious one. In a built environment professionals such as engineers are needed. Many engineers and other professionals took severance packages in 1994, and the result is that there are few people available with the necessary level of skills to manage huge projects. The Department is trying to improve this situation by focusing on skills development.
Ms Rwadi recognised this problem and submitted that the Department needs to attract and employ students from Universities. In respect of Capital Works, she said that the conditions of hospital and prison buildings leave much to be desired.
Mr Cyril Xaba (ANC) asked how many Client Departments had come forward and signed the service level agreement with the Department of Public Works. He also asked if there were any redundant staff in the Department and what would be done about these staff. Finally Mr Xaba asked who is responsible for paying the Municipality rates for schools.
Mr Marais (NNP) stated that the regional borders of the Department do not coincide with the present demarcation. He asked how much money has been lost because of fronting by businesses.
Mr Sangqu admitted that some staff at a lower level are redundant - such as cleaners and gardeners. One view is that these services should be outsourced but the labour movement will not allow any retrenchments. Mr Sangqu said he is concerned that not enough money has been allocated for property maintenance. The Department is liaising with the Treasury and is hoping that the allocation of R6 billion for property maintenance will be covered. He added that the nature of fronting is very complex and is not easily picked up. The Department does verify all state tenders but frequently black owners will put tenders together and sell the tenders to white owned businesses.
Mr Mokotedi explained that all properties that are provincial in nature, such as education, are responsible for rate payments. The view of the Department of Public Works is that this money should be used instead to fund local government programmes. He added that the Department of Justice, SAPS, PWD, Defence and Health are the major property owners and have all signed the Service Level Agreement. With regards to fronting, Mr Mokotedi insisted that there are no clear cut cases. Government does subsidise fees for Technikon and University students, but these students are bought out by large companies before they can work for the Government.
The meeting was adjourned.
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