Department: 2004/5 Annual Report, Strategic Plan & Budget No. 27: briefing


26 May 2006
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Meeting Summary

A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.

Meeting report

26 MAY 2006

Mr L Zita (ANC – NA) and Rev Moatshe (ANC, Northwest)

Documents handed out:
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) Presentation: Part
1 & 2
DEAT Budget 2006
DEAT Annual Report 2004/2005 presentation
Proposed Programme for Joint Briefing: Prog.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5 & 6
Environment Equality and Protection
DEAT Tourism Branch Briefing
MTEF Budget 2006

The Committees were briefed by the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism on the Budget 2006/2007 for Budget Vote 27 and allocation to Public Entities; the DEAT’s strategic plan for 2005-2010 (2006 review) and 2004/2005 Annual Report and Financial Statements.

Members questioned, amongst other things, the Department’s relationships with Tourism SA, local governments, and the provinces; means of ensuring the safety of tourists; and the Department’s shortfall in terms of its infrastructure upgrade projects.

Ms N Jezile (COO) presented an overview of the strategic plan of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) which was reflective of all programmes. She confirmed that the medium term strategy and plans were for a global sustainable agenda, cooperative and corporate governance, improved service delivery, and the development and retention of a representative and performing team. She stated that the vision of the Department was "to be a prosperous and equitable society living in harmony with our natural resources", with the emphasis on investing in our own people, high standards, integrity, transparency and sustainability.

Ms Jezile stated that the DEAT’s goals had not changed from the previous year with a few minor adjustments. These concerned the creation of conditions for sustainable tourism growth and development for the benefit of all South Africans, the promotion of conservation and sustainable utilization of our natural resources to enhance economic growth, the protection and improvement of the quality and safety of the environment, the promotion of a global sustainable development agenda and transformation and good governance.

Priorities for the DEAT were cited as Environment Impact Assessments (EIA’s) – informed decision making and the streamlining and fast tracking thereof; waste management – the permitting of disposal sites; the focus on water catchment areas and waste collection services in various municipalities; environmental awareness – a trust had been established and was to be launched the following week; compliance and enforcement – this was being stepped up in terms of delivery of legislation in past 3 years; looking at capacity at a national and provincial level; planning assistance to Local Government; air quality – an Act had been promulgated and come into effect, and some programmes were being worked on to give effect to the provisions of the Act and to work out permits so that they were line with the provisions of legislation; elephant management; hunting; resourcing the relevant sectors – a process had been started with Treasury in this regard; skills and the building of partnerships; transport – the Department had looked at the area of lift strategy and given inputs to Cabinet; the department was working with the Department of Transport in relation to public transport and the demand by tourists for reliable and affordable transport; tourist safety and security; product and business development; market growth; accurate research and an information management system and the implementation of Black Economic Empowerment (BEE).

Questions centered around 2 central issues:

1. Strategic Plan (06/07 review); and
2. DEAT Budget 2006/2007 and allocation to Public Entities

Strategic Plan (06/07 review)

Mr Mokoena (ANC) stated that he was impressed by the joint team work. He recommended that the Department go back to 1994 and take stock of what had happened over the past 12 years, take a review of the measures taken and categorise those that were sustainable and those that were not.

Mr Mokoena raised the following queries, namely:
- as to the 20 beaches that were accredited, who the accrediting authority was;
- as to the relationship between the Department and SA Tourism;
- in respect of the Tourism Indaba, why industry did not participate and speak but only held exhibition stands;
- in respect of the conference held at Sun City, why it was poorly attended by the MEC’s, and the provinces that did not participate, with little discussions happening;
- in relation to the call centre – whether this could be used to alleviate and fast track EIA’s.

Ms Ntuli (ANC) requested the Department to elaborate of the relationship with Local Government, in particular the issue of whether they are giving permits to polluters as she had heard from the people in Secunda that the Municipality would not assist as they were the beneficiaries. She enquired as to the role that the Department played in monitoring, as part of Local Government; the relationship between DEAT and the Department of Justice with regard to security; on the issue of Marine and Coastal Management, the issue of sinking vessels and in particular whether the Department investigated the causes of such and whether the Department offered any protection to skippers of such sinking vessels. On the issue of skills and development, she requested an elaboration of the type of skills that were being taught and whether such skills would take people forward;

Dr Mayekiso responded that accreditation was by their Department and WESA (Wildlife Environment Society of South Africa). With regard to shipping accidents, the Department had no responsibility to determine the causes thereof; this was carried out by SAMSA (South African Maritime Shipping Authority) and no dispensation was paid out by the Department – such matters were handled by the Department of Labour.

On the Indaba issue, Mr Mayekiso advised that it was a trade show organized by SA Tourism, who was the Department’s marketing agent. As it was a tight programme and time was limited, speeches were limited. However it was one of many events organised. He advised that there were an array of events apart from the trade show which clearly reflected industry’s participation. He enquired as to how Parliament wanted participation by industry to happen.

Mr Mokoena further enquired as to who took ownership of the Indaba as he could not discern between the private and public sector and stated that there was no sense of cohesion.

Dr Mayekiso stated that the Indaba was a trade fair under the auspices of SA Tourism, it was the opening event and a marketing tool.

Mr Zita stated that the Indaba was led by government.

Dr Mayekiso stated that SA Tourism was the marketing agency of the Department, driving marketing events and domestic events. In respect of the national conference, he stated that there was attendance by the MEC’s although he did not have the exact figures at the time.

Dr Mayekiso advised the Committees that, on the issue of commissions, they accept the point raised. He further stated that the conference that year would focus on skills.

Replying to the issue of safety and security, Dr Mayekiso advised that they were cognisant of the impact of perception and reality. He stated however that the number of tourist victims was lower than the national crime rate but was also aware that a single incident gave rise to bad publicity. The Department was looking for ways to deal with such issues and were developing a strategy with the National Commissioner of Police.

Dr Ngubane, dealing with the issue of skills, advised that they were engaged with performance improvement both as an employer and employee, targeting gaps identified and baring in mind the issue of retention.

Ms Joanne Yawitch (Deputy Director General: Environmental Quality and Protection) advised the committee that DEAT had set up a call-centre and addressed capacity provision to provinces. An audit had been concluded on EIA’s. Provision had been made in the budget for the appointment of personnel to those problem areas in the provinces. Funding was to go to the weakest departments with the smallest capacity. In terms of the new regulations there was an easy to read guide which would be distributed to the public before 1 July 2006. Public information sessions would also be held on regulation implementation.

On the issue of permits and pollution, Ms Yawitch advised the Committee that local government would be responsible in terms of the Air Quality Act. Safeguards were however in place in that permits could only be issued if there was compliance with the national standards and on the basis that EIA’s were done by the Provinces. Furthermore local government could not permit its own facilities; the Province was required to do so. The Department therefore felt that there were sufficient safety measures in place to ensure compliance.

DEAT Budget 2006/2007 and allocation to Public Entities

Mr Mokoena asked whether the infrastructure upgrade of R500 million was sufficient, and enquired as to the amount of funds available to assist Municipalities to execute tourism-related work.

A Member further enquired as to whether the funds allocated in the budget for the upgrades of the parks infrastructure was sufficient; whether they would be ready by 2010; and on the issue of the R35 million set aside for Agulhas (a research ship), whether this was for the replacement or maintenance of it.

Mr Zita queried whether the tourism budget was in line with accelerated growth or whether it was inflation related. He further queried the extent to which tourism played a major role in the budget.

Ms Ntuli raised the issue of the EIA’s call-centre as well as the ARPO culture issue – whether there was an understanding between all three Departments acting as one entity or three entities.

Dr Matlou advised the Committee that when the Department developed the programme they needed R1 billion in funds. At present they would not make the shortfall and would rely on marketers to make an impact. There was a need to look at various sectors and Government needed to do more.

Mr Zita enquired as to what the Department was doing with the shortfall.

Dr Matlou responded that they were working on a basis of what has been allocated, but required assistance.

Mr Mokoena (ANC) enquired as to the basis upon which Treasury had allocated funds. He further pointed out that Dr Matlou should have been empowered to indicate his views upfront and not in terms of review after allocation.

Mr Zita stated that it would be useful for the Department to write to Parliament formally.

Ms Jezile stated that the Department had requested an increase from Treasury but the amounts allocated were less than those requested.

Ms Oliphant (NCOP) enquired as to whether the Department had spent their full allocated budget or whether there had been a rollover.

Dr Matlou advised on the issue of local government that the target was to build capacity, not supply funding as that bridge needed to be crossed first. He advised that they were trying to get local government to include tourism in their strategic plans and then in their budget. The Department would be providing assistance directly and not with money, but the impact of such would be felt at local government level.

Dr Mayekiso stated that in regard to the ARPO culture, the Department welcomed a meeting and/ or joint workshop. In this regard he drew the Committee’s attention to the meeting with the Department of Agriculture in terms of which policies were consolidated. Another meeting had also been held between the Department of Transport, Department of Health, Department of Science and Technology, the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism, and the Department of Water Affairs.

Regarding Algulhas, the funds allocated were for operational fees.

In respect of the roll over, Dr Mayekiso advised that the department had used 99.6% of its budget.

Ms Jezile responded, on the issue of skills, that the Department was working towards filling the gap in skills. The Department could not say what budget would be required for skills until they had assessed the issue.

Ms Oliphant enquired as to a programme had been implemented to address poaching by a neighbouring country. On the issue of plastic bags, she asked whether the Department was still assisting groups doing crafts with plastic bags and how such funds were allocated. In terms of the World Summit on Sustainable Development, she questioned whether the clean rivers programme was still in place, particularly in light of rural areas. Regarding transport for tourists, she asked who the accrediting authority was.

Ms Fagea Bartine (Department) advised the Committee that, in respect of the plastic bags projects, groups had to apply to the local municipality for funding. These projects then had to be listed on the Municipalities IAP. In order to be considered, groups had to be local. Such persons were then employed and paid a daily rate.

On the issue of the clean rivers project, Ms Bartine stated that the Department had not done substantial work on this project however the Department of Water and Forestry had rehabilitation programmes running. Regarding transport accreditation, that responsibility lay with the Department of Transport.

The Committee raised one last issue on the state of roads and queried how the Department expected visitors to access parks if the roads were in a state of disrepair.

Ms Bartine answered that there were programmes in place dealing with specific sites.

Ms Jezile added that the Department needed to follow-up on such issues, but denied that it was the Department’s responsibility as the Department of Transport was funding same in partnership with province. She stated further that the partnerships with provinces were necessary as continual maintenance of such roads would be required in order to be sustainable; accordingly a commitment from Province was necessary.

The meeting was adjourned.




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