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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
7 November 2006
DEPARTMENT 2006 ANNUAL REPORT: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism report to the Portfolio Committee on the DEAT Annual Report 2005/2006
DEAT Donor Strategy
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism presented its 2006 annual report including progress on plans, donor funding, the environmental impact assessment system and issues surrounding the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The Committee raised concerns about the “readiness” of the Department to deal with the large influx of people into the country during 2010 as well as the fishing quotas allowed to commercial fishing units at the expense of subsistence fishermen
Mr A Mokeona (ANC) stood in for the Chairperson as he was running late. He opened the session by asking Members if they accepted the Director-General’s (DG) apology for his absence as he was currently overseas. After some debate over the necessity of having the DG present the presentation continued after the Chairperson arrived.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) presentation
Ms N Jezile (Chief Operations Officer and Deputy Director General) presented the DEAT’s six main programmes, the specific targets for 2005/06 and the associated achievements and challenges for each programme. Specific issues which should be mentioned include an unqualified audit report, 57% expenditure on Black Economic Empowerment (BEE); Registration of 65; equitable distribution in the work place involving 40% women, 72% black employees and 1.1% disabled persons; various aspects of international involvement; the implementation of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) and Southern African Development Community (SADC) tourism, environment, marine and costal programme as well as leading the national, sustainable development agenda. Other programmes included innovative actions to prevent or combat the negative effects of all significant developments (such as an indicator system); the alleviation of air pollution; the Environmental Courts have achieved a 70% conviction rate; the Sho’t Left domestic marketing campaign in which generated revenue had doubled to R40 million) and above-target job creation levels.
Mr T Bouwer (Chief Financial Officer) went over the main points of the Auditor General’s Report which identified the following short comings in the financial statements: irregular expenditure (which he said was largely due to the reclassification of certain transactions from “goods and services” to “transfer payments”), the policies of the IS system (which are currently undergoing a follow-up audit); a LOGIS fixed asset register which is now in place as well as notes on late submission (due to changes that had to be made) among others. The Audit Committee report included the opinion that the financial statements had been fairly represented.
Interesting points in the Annual Financial Statements included the decrease in under expenditure in 2005/06 compared to the previous year and about R6.9 million that has been rolled over. Expenditure included over R81 million in “irregular expenditure” explained before as well as R1.7 million on guarantees for government officials’ leases and bonds. On this note the COO explained that the DEAT had submitted a completed report to the Auditor General but as DEAT was the parent body regarding the said report the onus was on the department to collect reports from the other departments and provinces which were slow in completing their reports.
Mr Nguyeni (Deputy Director-General) added an overview of the vacancies situation as well as the system in place to manage these vacancies, the make up of the department’s human capital resource and the focus on staff (including performance awards and skills development).
Mr Z Fakir (Director: International Governance) explained the aim of DEAT’s donor funding strategy as well as the bilateral engagement strategy matrix. He said that possible donor countries, their particular interests and South Africa’s specific needs had all been identified to coordinate the funding efforts (for example the Netherlands who are unable to provide funding for conservation as such but have agreed to fund environmental justice efforts). He noted that donor funding tended to be finite as to the time period and as such the department channels these funds towards niche areas and projects such as Research and Development. He added that these projects were often interdepartmental such as the FIFA World Cup projects. He went on to describe the Donor Portfolio and said that it was the Department’s responsibility not to use the money itself but to channel the funds towards the mentioned projects. Mr Fakir went into details about the Global Environmental Facility (GEF) in the World Bank that helps developing countries meet WB conventions – it is specifically set up to obtain funding from donor countries. The funds are issued on the basis of a co-financing agreement from government at about 3:1. There is a replenishment committee in place (of which South Africa is a member) that negotiates the replenishment of the fund but currently there is a real decrease in this fund. He went on to outline South Africa’s GEF Portfolio.
Mr M Sayedali-Shah (DA) asked if the target of 230 environmental inspectors had been achieved, whether there was an evaluation system for the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) system and if DEAT had planned to increase the capacity of landfills for example to accommodate the 2010 FIFA World Cup. He asked how the Department monitored the progress of black tourism guides which was said to have increased by 27%. Referring again to the World Cup he asked what the time frame was for implementing the interdepartmental plan and if there were regular meetings between departments as well as whether there was synergy between the signatories to the MoU on biodiversity. He questioned the monitoring and evaluation of the businesses benefiting from the tourism equity fund.
Dr P Matlou (Deputy Director-General: Tourism) said that tourist guides were being trained in foreign languages in the provinces: 130 of which are being trained in French and 13 in Chinese as well as a few with an introductory course in Spanish – the Department was also looking for work placements for all trainees. There was an inter-ministerial committee (involving 19 ministries) which met every month headed by the President or Deputy President to work on the 2010 World Cup plan – this plan was finalized last year and was being worked into the tourism strategy. The DG reported to this committee on a monthly basis and as no money had been specifically allocated for this function the DEAT had integrated it as a line function.
Ms J Chalmers (ANC) asked how far the programme on the management of desertification had progressed. She asked if now that the indicators had been developed was the department going to use them to identify threatened ecosystems especially in the Eastern Cape where up market developments were prolific on the coast. She asked what the base line was to measure the said decrease of the EIA backlog and whether this decrease was provincial or solely national. She asked if the no-go areas that ruled the abalone system in the Western Cape would be applied to the Eastern Cape as well.
Dr M Mayekiso (Deputy Director-General: Marine and Coastal Management (MCM)) said on the abalone protection measures no fully fledged commercial fishery was as yet operational in the Eastern Cape as was the case on the west coast but that the Department did need to identify areas in this region in need of such protection – he said that measures should be in place to limit the divers and the likes getting up to “mischief”.
Mr Fakir said that the donor budget quoted earlier of $US300 million was the global budget. He explained that GEF project plans had to be submitted for funding issues such as land degradation but that as there was not a clear national action plan regarding this it was not seen as a global issue and therefore little money was put aside for this.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) said that many communities were still complaining of their health owing to pollution. She asked what the plans for accommodation for the 2010 World Cup were, if the plans were sustainable and what training would be provided.
Dr Matlou said that at a workshop attended by DEAT and MATCH amongst others accommodation for the World Cup was looked into – he said that this is the first time non-hotel accommodation would be looked at for supporters. He said that clusters of guesthouses and the like would be grouped so that transport to and from matches would be convenient and all this accommodation would be graded. He said that there would soon be a follow up on this matter.
Mr M Swart (DA) asked if there were any groups who were contractually bound to assist the department in dealing with oil spills. He asked about DEAT’s details on its plans for the World Cup and when these projects would be funded – as it was mentioned that these were as yet unfunded as well as if DEAT had been in consultation with SAA over the blocking of flights over the World Cup period. He asked if the EIAs had been completed for all provinces.
Dr Matlou answered that various stakeholders had decided on the Airlift Strategy with tourism being put on the agenda. He said that not only does the Department of Transport have a say in determining the mandate but also the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) and DEAT to name a few. He said that owing to this a French Carrier had also been allowed (under certain conditions) to schedule flights to South Africa during this period.
Dr Mayekiso said that the department had allocated R10 million to dealing with oil spills and that they used aerial surveillance and deployed vessels in order to detect and combat these should they occur. He said that on this issue DEAT worked closely with the Department of Transport.
Mr Fakir said that as an example of air quality management the Norwegian government was funding a project in the Durban South Basin – he said that other areas such as Sasolburg had been identified for the same sort of programme.
The COO said that with regards to air quality the Department had published papers (AQSID’s) for public comment and that she would have to wait for a reaction to these to better answer the question. She said that “Air Quality Hot Spots” had been identified such as Sasolburg and that this was an example of “real work being done practically”. The COO said that she could not comment on the overall impact of the Presidential notes but that DEAT had provided hands on support (the Developmental and Environmental tool kit). The COO said that indicators had been developed so that the department could now look at the state of the environment report and determine the effectiveness of existing programmes.
Dr I Cachalia (ANC) asked if there were programmes to encourage scholars to study areas such as conservation to address the lack of equity progress in various areas. He also asked what was being done to ensure the retention of experienced staff. He asked if the targets for emissions quoted were for the year 2005.
Mr Ngubeni said that the department dealt with shortages of staff in these sectors through bursaries for horticulture etc. He said that needs were identified in the sector and that there had been a move to link scarce skills to donor funding and the like.
Mr S Rasmeni (ANC) asked DEAT to give the Committee an overview of the declaration from the skills conference. He also asked about the successes of the Extended Public Works Programme (EPWP). He questioned the department’s loss of 18 court cases.
Dr Matlou said that at the meeting on skills development in Muldersdrift between the 19th and 20th October 2006 a declaration had been signed including an action plan on this subject. This declaration also covered training offered by donors as well as work taken on in conjunction with other departments.
The COO said that with regard to the cases that DEAT had not “won” - some were still in progress and others she would be able to provide details about at a later stage.
Mr Mokoena applauded the presentation and suggested that publications of interest should be translated. He also queried how 11 million euros that had been granted to the Eastern Cape had “disappeared”. Employees working off bursaries were a good way to deal with staff turnover. He said that there had been some instability around Sho’t Left and that the programme needed sustainability. He said that transformation statistics should always be contained in a report. He added that there should be a conference focusing on the “readiness” for the World Cup with a focus on tourism.
Dr Matlou said that although Sho’t Left continues they do have continuity issues and that these would have to be dealt with; therefore they had to ensure a spread of beneficiaries.
Dr Mkenteni said that the EU programme in the Eastern Cape had been undergoing a “50% Audit” and that a full report by the EU was due. He mentioned however that much of the money in this area goes to discrete investments such as “rustic” infrastructure and training and development.
The COO said that DEAT would investigate the translation of publications and that they are currently doing a costing process to see if translation is viable. She said that they would investigate the idea of tailor-made branches for the call centre but that they had come away from the last meeting and put the current call centre in place.
Ms R Ndzanga (ANC) demanded to know why French carriers were allowed to benefit from the World Cup influx of travelers when South Africa had its own national carrier SAA – she added that SAA could cope with the increase of travelers as large conferences had been held in South Africa before.
Dr Matlou answered that the FIFA sponsors were not necessarily South African and that our two main sponsors (MTN and FNB) were lower tier sponsors. Many international carriers did not have licenses to carry passengers traveling from other African countries and there would be more than enough business for SAA.
The Chair asked if the target of 45% expenditure on BEE was not setting the bar too low. How much money had gone to SMMEs and cooperatives? He asked if it had been a good move to grant quotas to small-scale commercial fishing groups rather than subsistence fishers.
Dr Matlou said that they could report more fully on transformation and that DEAT would look into the conference on the 2010 World Cup.
Dr J Augustyn (Chief Director: Research, Antarctica and Islands) said that the Department had taken the formal route for commercial fishing allocations and that they will initiate debate in the next few weeks once the report is open for public comment and this period is concluded.
The CFO said that DEAT had exceeded the BEE target of 45% by 12% and the findings of an investigation into the Department’s procurement strategies would be made available by the end of February.
The COO noted that the department took transformation very seriously and that they were looking into all aspects of the industries under their care.
The meeting was adjourned.
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