A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
29 May 2007
DEPARTMENT 2007/08 STRATEGIC PLAN AND BUDGET: BRIEFING
Chairperson: Mr L Zita (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) presentation
DEAT presentation on Marine and Coastal Management
DEAT presentation on Corporate Affairs
The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) presented an overview of the department’s goals and objectives and details of the budget for 2007/08. The main strategic thrusts were to c reate conditions for sustainable tourism growth and development for the benefit of all South Africans, to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources to enhance economic growth and poverty eradication, to protect and improve the quality and safety of the environment, to promote a global sustainable development agenda, and to achieve transformation. Full details were given of the performance indicators and projects under each of the programmes. The budget allocations per programme were tabled and compared with previous years. The total allocation was R2.591 billion, an increase from R2.02 billion the previous year. Capital expenditure for the year would total R353.757 million, and a full breakdown was given. It was noted that, although full details could not yet be given, the Department was dealing with issues around subsistence fishing and the stakeholders in the fishing industry, broad-based black economic empowerment in both the conservation and tourism sectors, ‘greening’ the budget, reducing the vacancy levels within the department, the post-Kyoto Protocol on climate change, domestic and history tourism, the debate around cleaner production and skills development in the tourism industry.
Members asked questions on the safety and security of tourists, the training of tourist guides, issues around the environmental impact assessments, the functioning of the Marine and Coastal Management directorate and its ability to counteract the poaching of marine resources, the development of an aquaculture industry, the improvement of the lot of subsistence fishermen, waste management, landfills, littering, carbon emissions and DEAT’s ability to respond to the challenges of the 2010 Soccer World Cup.
Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) Strategic Plan and Budget Briefing
Ms Pamela Yako, Director-General, DEAT, briefed the Committee on the Department’s values, goals, key focus areas and strategic objectives for the period 2007/08 to 2009/10. The main strategic thrusts were to c reate conditions for sustainable tourism growth and development for the benefit of all South Africans, to promote the conservation and sustainable utilisation of natural resources to enhance economic growth and poverty eradication, to protect and improve the quality and safety of the environment, to prom ote a global sustainable development agenda, and to achieve transformation.
Ms Yako provided details of the key performance indicators (KPI’s) of each objective set for both the environmental and tourism sections of the department and full details of the programmes presently under way (see attached document).
Ms Yako tabled the department’s budget allocations for the periods 2003/04 to 2009/10 for each of the six main programmes (Administration, Environmental Quality and Protection (EQP), Marine and Coastal Management (MCM), Tourism, Biodiversity and Conservation (B&C) and Sector Services and International Relations (SSIR).
The total budget allocation for 2007/08 was R2.591 billion, of which R1.947 billion (75%) was allocated for transfers and subsidies (by way of allocations to public entities), R343.416 million for goods and services, R296.230 million for compensation of employees and R3.676 million for payment for capital assets.
Capital expenditure for the year totaled R353.757 million and this included R60 million for the South African Weather Service, R20 million for the Marine Living Resources Fund, R239 million for the South African National Parks (SANParks), R21 million for the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (previously Greater St Lucia Wetland Park Authority) and R10 million for the South African National Biodiversity Institute. The number of personnel employed by the DEAT increased from 1050 in 2006 to 1650.
Ms Yako concluded her presentation with a brief run-down of the department’s progress on specific issues that were previously raised by the Committee. She felt that it was not prudent to make public the position held by the department prior to entering into international negotiations on certain environmental matters but reported that KPI’s were established to deal with the issues around subsistence fishing and the stakeholders in the fishing industry, broad-based black economic empowerment in both the conservation and tourism sectors, ‘greening’ the budget, reducing the vacancy levels within the department, the post-Kyoto Protocol on climate change, domestic and history tourism, the debate around cleaner production and skills development in the tourism industry.
Mr M Swart (DA) asked for further details of the strategy to ensure the safety of visitors to the World Cup in 2010.
Dr Patrick Matlou, Deputy Director-General (DDG): Directorate Tourism, DEAT, responded that the DEAT’s strategy to ensure the safety and security of tourists was finalised and presented at the Tourism Indaba held in May 2007. An information document was compiled and safety tip booklets were printed and distributed to the provinces. He advised that the department also worked closely with the South African Police Service (SAPS) to gather information on the incidents reported and that safety forums were established in the provinces to develop prevention strategies and to identify and deal with crime hotspots. He added that the department held discussions with the Editor’s Forum in an attempt to address the negative image created by front-page reports in the media and held consultations with embassies on the issuing of travel advisories. He said that the DEAT’s strategy was adopted by MinMEC.
Mr Swart was concerned that the budget allocation for Marine Coastal Management (MCM) was reduced and that its ability to enforce the poaching laws was compromised as a result.
Ms Yako replied that the budget allocation for MCM in 2003 included large capital expenditure amounts for the building of vessels, and if that element was taken out of the equation, the actual allocation reflected an increase. She agreed that more funds were required for MCM and said that the department was discussing the matter with Treasury in an attempt to address the negative perceptions around the management of funds by MCM.
Later in the briefing, Ms Yako confirmed that R191 million was allocated to MCM for patrol vessels in 2003/04, R136 million in 2004/05, R46 million in 2005/06, R47 million in 2006/07 and the additional allocation form Treasury for 2007/08 to 2009/10 amounted to R33 million per year.
Mr R Shah (DA) asked what assistance the Department provided to the provinces in developing their capacity to carry out environmental impact assessments (EIAs).
Ms Joanne Yawitch, DDG: Directorate EQP, DEAT, replied that an amount of R11.3 million was made available to assist the provinces in finalizing the outstanding EIAs. This amount was expected to increase to R18 million in the following year. DEAT provided assistance in the form of frameworks and training to the provinces. She explained that since the new regulations came into effect in July 2006, the number of outstanding EIAs was reduced from 50 000 to 2 800. The provinces had placed advertisements to inform applicants that pending applications older than six months would be closed unless they were re-activated and she expected that 80% of the outstanding applications would be closed by June 2007. She added that since the new regulations were promulgated in June 2006, 2226 EIA applications were received and all were being processed by the department.
Mr Shah remarked that the Gonarezhou National Park in Zimbabwe (part of the Greater Limpopo Trans-frontier Park) had become a liability because of the social and political problems in Zimbabwe. He wanted to know if the Department had engaged with the Department of Foreign Affairs on this matter.
Ms Yako replied that the three Ministers concerned held discussions on an annual basis and pointed out that the community issues in Gonarezhou applied to the Kruger National Park and the parks in Limpopo as well. She added that the political situation in Zimbabwe fell outside the responsibility of the DEAT and she was therefore unable to comment on that.
Mr Shah asked if the Department had met its target to establish three border posts in the trans-frontier parks by the end of 2006.
Mr Fundisile Mketeni, DDG: Directorate Biodiversity and Conservation, DEAT, replied that the border post between South Africa and Mozambique in Limpopo was opened in September 2006. The post at Mata-Mata was completed on the South African side but the Namibian side was expected to be ready in October 2007. The South African post at Sendelingsdrif was completed but Namibia did not have the resources to complete the infrastructure for the border post at Aix-Aix.
Mr Zita suggested that the matter be taken up with the Namibian government in Windhoek.
Mr D Maluleke (ANC) asked what mechanisms were in place to ensure that persons whose training was sponsored by the department were retained.
Ms Hamida Fakira, DDG: Directorate CA, DEAT, replied that the Department had a comprehensive study policy in place and that the recipients of bursaries signed a study contract with DEAT. In terms of the contract, students were required to work one year for every year of bursary received and were expected to repay the study loan in the event of non-performance. Students’ results were monitored on a quarterly basis. She advised that R2 million was available for study grants and bursaries during 2007/08.
Ms C Zikalala (IFP) asked for further details on the number of tourism products and services and whether information on these was available to tourists.
Dr Matlou advised that a database of 50000 tourism services was compiled, updated and made available to the industry.
Mr Shah asked if the amount of R11.3 million allocated to all the provinces was adequate to address the lack of capacity in the provinces to carry out the EIA mandate. He wanted to know how the DEAT measured the effectiveness of the environmental inspectors in the provinces.
Mr A Mokoena (ANC) agreed with Mr Shah that the R11.3 million put aside to assist the provinces was inadequate. He felt that municipalities were antagonising developers with their inability to deal with EIA applications and that their role should be reduced to merely accepting applications on behalf of the DEAT.
Ms Yako explained that the provinces had their own budgets and staff to carry out the EIA mandate. The amount budgeted by DEAT was to provide additional support to the provinces, in particular to assist them with clearing backlogs.
Ms Yawitz provided further information on the funds made available to provinces. She said the R11.3 million was to assist provinces in clearing EIA backlogs by bringing in skilled persons and was intended as a short-term intervention. She said that DEAT’s longer term solutions included the development of systems, providing templates and setting up a help-desk to deal with queries. She reported that more consistency in the interpretation of the regulations was achieved. Fifteen training courses on the application of the regulations were held in the provinces and the Department was working with training institutions on the development of institutional training courses. DEAT was conducting a provincial capacity audit and was involved in a benchmarking exercise to determine the skill and salary levels. She said that the quality of work done by the independent EIA practitioners was sometimes a problem and the department was working with practitioners to set up a regulatory authority, to draw up a code of conduct and to determine the standards a person must adhere to in order to be registered as an EIA practitioner.
Ms Yawitz added that the EIAs for the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative for South Africa (ASGISA) and other large Government infrastructure projects were being speeded up and that forums were established that met on a quarterly basis to ensure alignment between the departments concerned. She welcomed the establishment of the public enterprises fund that could be accessed by DEAT and the provinces to pay for expert input into the more complex EIAs.
Ms Yawitz said that a national database was established where provinces entered all the EIA information. The database allowed DEAT to track the status of all the applications that were processed by each province. Environmental management frameworks were developed and were implemented for developments in Kwa-zulu Natal, Free State, Gauteng, Western Cape and Eastern Cape provinces. She said that the provinces tended to focus on areas where there was development pressure, and were taking steps to expedite such applications.
Mr Mokoena expressed the appreciation of the committee for DEAT’s response to the members’ concerns and commended the department for their efforts and the progress that was made. He regretted the absence of Dr Zaloumis of the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority at the briefing.
Ms Yawitz responded by listing some of the highlights from the department’s last three enforcement reports. During 2006, more than 6000 vessels were monitored for compliance and inspected by MCM, the longest sentence imposed by the courts for the smuggling of cycads was ten years, the highest fine imposed for the smuggling of shark fins and illegal use of fishing nets was R675 000 and nets and vessels worth R21 million were confiscated. An illegal manganese mine was closed down and the court ordered the respondents to plant 80 trees in disadvantaged communities as part of their reparations. She offered to make future enforcement reports available to the Committee.
Mr Mokoena asked how the department planned to deal with the avalanche of waste expected to be generated in the run-up to 2010.
Ms Yawitch explained that the DEAT planned to use the opportunity presented by the 2010 World Cup to leverage a different kind of approach to waste management in the country. Discussions were held with the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), some host cities and with the Department of Public Works (DPW). Host cities were asked to develop a waste management system incorporating the elements of recycling (waste reduction) and job creation and enterprise development. Technical support and infrastructure development were to be provided by DEAT and DPW.
Mr Mokoena asked if the allocation of fishing rights would jeopardize the building up of adequate fish reserves by 2010.
Dr Monde Mayekiso, DDG: Directorate MCM, DEAT, replied that it was impossible to set aside a supply of fish for a particular time n the future and that the department could only apply good conservation management principles to ensure an adequate fish supply in 2010. He added that the Department was satisfied with the results that were achieved with rebuilding the hake resource, which came about by the application of a conservative management policy. He stated that West Coast rock lobster was slower to recover but there was an improvement in the rate of recovery. He mentioned that currently almost 100% of West Coast rock lobster and squid was exported to Europe and that almost all the lobster for domestic consumption was imported from South America.
Mr Mokoena said that it was necessary to engage the large companies involved in the fishing industry to ensure that the fish stocks were preserved. Dr Mayekiso agreed and added that the importers of fish products had to be involved as well.
Mr Mokoena noted the increase in the contribution to the Marine Living Resources Fund and suggested that the fund be re-engineered to be more effective.
Mr Zita asked if the DEAT’s budget allowed the department to achieve its objectives.
Ms Yako was concerned about the funding constraints on MCM and felt that more funding was needed for support and marketing in the tourism sector. Although there were sufficient funds for the EQP’s waste management, landfill and air quality programmes at the national level, more was needed at the provincial and municipal levels to effectively implement these programmes. Provision was made in the budget for certain infrastructure developments within the public entities but more was needed. She said that only 90% of staff establishment costs within the DEAT were met and the department required more funding to provide adequate information systems.
Mr Zita asked if the delegations sent to international conferences reflected the racial composition of the country.
Ms Yako admitted that there were challenges in this regard and that more work needed to be done, particularly with regard to the composition of the delegation to the conferences on climate change. She added that some progress was made and the South African delegation to CITES was led by two black women.
Mr Zita asked how many trained tourist guides were absorbed by the department or if they were employed by other players in the tourism industry.
Dr Matlou replied that meetings were held with DEAT’s partners in the tourism industry to determine training needs and to establish standards of training, on the basis of which assurances were given that all graduates would be absorbed by the industry. Twelve trainees were sent to China of whom ten were absorbed by the industry and two started their own businesses. The Department received an offer from the Netherlands to train and mentor trainees for two months.
Mr Zita asked for more details of the policy and strategy on aquaculture that was being developed by DEAT.
Dr Mayekiso reported that a workshop on aquaculture was held in September 2006 and that the Department was considering the proposals that were tabled. A delegation was sent to Norway and Chile to gain international experience and the Department was examining the policies and models used by those countries. He stated that DEAT was in the process of developing a policy on aquaculture. This would encompass the principles of improving the environment for aquaculture and speeding up the approval process, as well as broadening participation in the industry and examining the roles played by co-ops and companies as well as smaller enterprises. It would further prevent environmental degradation as a result of aquaculture and diversify and increase the number of species cultivated.
Mr Zita asked if the R333 million allocated to the MCM would allow the Department to address the problem of poaching of marine resources.
Dr Mayekiso replied that the Department was involved in an ongoing fight against abalone poachers because of the ease of access and the involvement of crime syndicates. He said that close relationships were developed with SAPS and with the South African Revenue Service (SARS). The Department was also investigating alternatives to the traditional approach of patrolling beaches, such as use of electronic surveillance.
Mr I Cachalia (ANC) asked if the DEAT’s policy on dumping and the use of landfill sites was effective and if compliance with the policy was being monitored.
Ms Yawitch replied that the key to addressing the issues around dumping and landfills was the implementation of the new legislation being promulgated. In terms of the new law, dumping was made illegal and carried more serious penalties. The Department had closed some of the loopholes in the existing legislation and made it enforceable at all levels of Government.
Mr Cachalia asked if one inspection officer per five kilometers of coastline was sufficient to prevent the large-scale poaching of abalone.
Ms Yawitz replied that 798 EMIs had completed the training courses and were designated during 2006. A further 92 persons awaited designation and two more courses were planned for later in 2007. She estimated that a further 100 to 150 persons would be designated by the end of 2007.
Dr Mayekiso added that agreements were reached with SANParks, KZN, Cape Nature and other provincial agencies to assist with inspectors and carrying out patrols. He said the Department was continuing discussions with SAPS to obtain accreditation for DEAT inspectors.
Mr Cachalia wanted to know if the Department had a policy in place for the disposal of assets and referred to the Eagle Star matter, when the ship was re-fitted at a cost of R10 million and then auctioned off for R320 000. He wondered to what extent the Department relied on income from the sale of confiscated goods and forfeited assets.
Dr Mayekiso reported that the Department and National Treasury were both compiling reports on their investigations into the Eagle Star matter and he was not able to comment on this matter at this time. He said that although the Department raised R50 million from the sale of confiscated abalone in 2006, this amount varied from year to year and the Department did not rely on income from this source.
Mr S Rasmeni (ANC) conceded that the negotiation stance taken by South Africa on the environmental issues that were debated at international conferences should not be publicised in advance. He felt however that a way had to be found to involve Parliament in the formulation of such negotiation strategies.
Mr Rasmeni asked to what extent DEAT was involved with other developing nations, especially the developing countries in Africa.
Ms Yako replied that the Department had hosted meetings with other African countries and assisted them to develop an African position at international conventions. She pointed out that there was not always a unanimous African position, particularly with regard to wildlife and conservation management issues. South Africa and Namibia differed with Kenya on the ban on the sale of ivory and the management of elephant numbers.
Mr Swart asked for more details of the Department’s efforts to curtail the negative image of the country that was being created by media reports on crime.
Mr Swart remarked that developers generally appointed and paid the specialists who compiled EIAs, with the result that the assessments favoured the developer. He asked if the Department had considered changing the regulations whereby DEAT appointed the specialist to compile the EIA but the cost of the assessment was borne by the developer.
Mr Rasmeni asked how DEAT applied the integrated development programme (IDP) to ensure that its policies and strategies filtered down to the local government level.
Ms Yako replied that the Department collaborated with other departments on a national and provincial level and participated in joint planning authorities on environmental and tourism issues. She said that there was always more scope for collaboration at the local government and community levels.
Ms Nosipho Jezile, Chief Operations Officer, DEAT, added that the Department provided technical assistance in the development of tools used in the IDP process. DEAT also provided funding support in the application of the tools and participated in the IDP review process with the Department of Local Government and with the provinces. She added that the area of conservation required a broad spectrum of skills and the Department was actively involved in developing the skills of local government personnel.
Mr Swart asked if a decision was made regarding the Tsitsikama National Park Authority.
Ms Yako reported that the report from the task team was on her desk. She had referred several questions back to the team for further investigation and had not yet formulated her recommendations to the Minister.
Mr Swart remarked that aquaculture was an opportunity for poor fishing communities to generate income. He suggested that the committee push for an early adoption of a policy and implementation strategy by DEAT.
Ms Yako agreed to expedite the policy formulation and implementation process. She warned that aquaculture was capital-intensive and start-up costs were very high. She estimated that a minimum of R100 million was needed for a pilot project. The possibilities for job-creation were also limited and it was not certain that large numbers of people would necessarily benefit. She added that objectives needed to be very clear . In Chile the main objective was to improve the country’s balance of payments through the export of aquaculture products. The Department had investigated several models applied in Chile, Norway and Vietnam and she offered to submit a report to the Committee on the matter.
Ms Zikalala remarked that many tourists did not speak English and asked whether tourist guides were given training in other languages.
Ms Zikalala was concerned about DEAT’s ability to respond to the challenges of 2010 but was relieved to note the effort that was being made in this regard.
Mr Maluleke observed that there were many French-speaking African asylum-seekers in the country and suggested the Department approached the Department of Home Affairs with a view to making use of their skills in the tourism industry.
Ms Yako agreed to consider the possibility of using the skills of asylum-seekers as well as additional language skills training for tourist guides.
Dr Matlou added that French language training was included in the courses attended by tourist guides. He reported that 161 were completing the last phase of the three-phase training course and eight would be selected to travel to France. He said that a pilot project was being developed with Spain that included training on information technology and a distance-learning programme. He remarked that if foreigners were used as tourist guides, they would need to be trained on South Africa.
Mr Maluleke remarked that littering appear to be second nature to many South Africans. He asked if the mandate of the Green Scorpions extended to enforcing the laws against littering as well.
Ms Yawitch replied that the Green Scorpions were the enforcers of all the environmental matters. So far DEAT had provided training at the national, provincial and national parks levels but she expected that more training would be done at municipal level in future as the local governments were responsible for dealing with littering. She reported that DEAT provided a framework and a set of guidelines to municipalities to formulate their littering regulations and was willing to assist them with developing implementation strategies. She pointed out that littering was a behavioural pattern and that it was necessary to change attitudes through education and the promotion of an environmental awareness.
Mr Cachalia asked how the Department assisted black-owned tourism enterprises to enter the industry.
(Dr Matlou responded to the question in a later reply to a question asked by Mr Zita).
Mr Cachalia asked to what extent the trans-frontier parks were seen as a solution to the elephant management challenge. (This question was not answered).
Mr Cachalia asked whether any research had been done into tourists’ perception of safety and security in the country.
Dr Matlou replied that tourism perception surveys were conducted on a regular basis and that visitors were asked to complete questionnaires when exiting the country. He conceded that more work was necessary to address the problem of the media helping to create a climate of fear through its reporting of crime.
Mr Cachalia asked whether the Department had reached its goal to increase the number of black tourist guides by 34% during 2006. This question was not answered.
Mr Zita asked to what extent the department made use of the experience gained by other countries to prepare for the challenges of 2010.
Dr Matlou replied that most of the engagements were in the field of training. A number of countries had offered assistance and there was co-operation with Singapore, Japan, Germany, Ireland, the Netherlands, Australia and India.
Mr Zita asked to what extent tourism products and services were accessible to previously disadvantaged individuals (PDI’s).
Dr Matlou replied that local tourism was encouraged by the Department and operators were cautioned against reliance on foreign tourists alone. He felt that more could be done to bring the message across to South Africans that local tourism was affordable. He said that there was more disposable income available to black South Africans and they need to be made aware of the more affordable options such as backpacker facilities, B&B’s, low-cost airlines and low season rates in hotels and national parks.
Mr Zita asked to what extent the DEAT participated in the transformation process to involve more black people in the tourism industry.
Dr Matlou responded that the DEAT was the major source of funds for the tourism enterprise development programme and the main driver behind the development of tourism training. He added that the DEAT was exploring ways to provide access to local and international fairs and exhibitions to new entrants and small enterprises. He said that the Department supported the tourism Broad Based Black Economic Empowerment (BBEEE) charter through its procurement, enterprise development and social responsibility policies.
Mr Zita asked whether the ultimate responsibility for EIAs would be at national or local government level.
Ms Yawitch replied that the responsibility for EIAs rested at the national and provincial levels but there were debates between DEAT and certain of the larger metropolitan regions who wanted to take over the function. Some of the smaller local governments did not want the responsibility and she anticipated that an agency arrangement may be developed in future. She said there were some concerns around conflicts of interest and ensuring that safeguards were kept in the management of assessments.
Mr Zita asked what the Department’s strategy was on coal in order to reduce the levels of carbon emissions.
Ms Yawitch replied that the issue was a shared responsibility between DEAT and the Department of Minerals and Energy. The Department of Science and Technology was also considering ways of dealing with climate change. She added that South Africa was a member of an international forum dealing with carbon emissions and would be hosting a meeting of the forum in the near future. She added that South Africa and Australia had similar energy sources and a partnership was formed with the Australian government. She was aware that Eskom and Anglo Coal were investigating alternative methods of processing coal but could not provide further details on what progress was being made.
Mr Zita asked if THETA (the Sector Training Authority) was ready to support the Department’s training objectives.
Ms Yako responded that the Department of Labour was responsible for THETA and DEAT could only collaborate and influence to a limited extent. She was not able to assess the effectiveness of THETA and felt that Parliament was a more appropriate vehicle for that.
Mr Zita asked what the Department’s policy was regarding the allocation of quotas to subsistence fishermen.
Dr Mayekiso replied that a draft policy on subsistence fishing was out for public comment. DEAT was in the process of refining its policy and was considering increasing the quota period from one to three years, improving the bargaining power of small fishermen, improving their ability to add value to their product to command better prices and investigating and monitoring the resources available to small fishing enterprises.
Mr Zita asked if EIAs were done on the Gautrain and monorail projects.
Ms Yawitch reported that the Gautrain project was subject to a lengthy EIA process and that there was a court case, which found in favour of Gautrain. She was not aware of an application for the monorail project.
Mr Mokoena asked who the beneficiary of the Sho’t Left campaign was. He remarked that the intention was to activate domestic tourism but few of the smaller taxi owners were buying into the campaign. He stated that incidents of taxi violence, the irresponsible attitude of some taxi drivers and the lack of maintenance of the vehicles were major stumbling blocks and the Committee needed to address these issues.
Mr Zita noted Mr Mokoena’s comments and concluded by welcoming the DEAT’s co-operation with Australia on the matter of carbon emissions. He remarked that the requirement for major capital investment in aquaculture was related to the debate around the involvement of private, public and state enterprises. He saw a need for reconciling the first and second economies and suggested that DEAT and the Department of Labour develop an initiative to address the inequalities and exploitation of workers on some private reserves.
The meeting was adjourned.
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