ATC201021: Preliminary Budgetary BRRR of The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries on the Fourth Quarter Reports of the Department of Environmental Affairs and Its Four Entities, Namely: SANparks, IWPA, SAWS; & SANBI for The 2019/20 Financial Year, Dated 21 October 2020.

Environment, Forestry and Fisheries

PRELIMINARY Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) of the Portfolio Committee ON ENVIRONMENT, FORESTRY AND FISHERIES on THE FOURTH QUARTER REPORTs OF THE DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS AND ITS Four ENTITIES, NAMELY: THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL PARKS (SANPARKS), ISIMANGALISO WETLAND PARK AUTHORITY (IWPA), SOUTH AFRICAN WEATHER SERVICE (SAWS); and THE SOUTH AFRICAN NATIONAL BIODIVERSITY INSTITUTE (SANBI) FOR THE 2019/20 FINANCIAL YEAR, DATED 21 OCTOBER 2020.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (hereinafter referred to as the Committee) having examined the Fourth Quarter Performance and Expenditure Reports of the Department as well its entities (2019/20), reports as follows:

 

  1.    Introduction

This report is the culmination of the information of the Fourth Quarter Performance Reports and unaudited financial information. It is a preliminary assessment of the performance of the Department as well as its entities in view of the fact that the Annual Report of the Department will not be tabled until 16 November 2020.  Despite this, there is a requirement of the Money Bills Procedures and Related Matters Amendment Act, (Act 9 of 2009) for the Budget Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) to be tabled in October every year. This year has been different because the Minister of Finance agreed to exemptions to allow departments to submit in their annual reports in the middle of November 2020. The report provides an annual assessment of the performance of the Department and entities in the absence of a report from the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA).

 

1.1        Mandate of the Committee

The mandate of the Committee therefore is to fulfil its constitutional function to:

  • Pass legislation;
  • Scrutinise and oversee executive action;
  • Facilitate public participation and involvement in the legislative and other processes; and
  • Engage, participate and oversee international treaties and protocols.

 

1.2.       Purpose of the Budget Review and Recommendation Report

In terms of section 5 of the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, No

9 of 2009, the National Assembly, through its Committees, must annually compile Budgetary

Review and Recommendations reports (BRRR) that assess service delivery and financial performance of departments and may make recommendations on forward use of resources. The BRRR is also a source document for the Committees on Appropriations when considering and making recommendations on the Medium Term.

 

The Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act, section 5(3) highlights focus areas on the budgetary review and recommendation report as:

  • Providing an assessment of the Department’s service delivery performance given available resources;
  • Providing an assessment of the effectiveness and efficiency of the Department’s use and forward allocation of available resources; and
  • Including recommendations on the forward use of resources.

 

On 26 August and 2 September 2020, the Committee received briefings on the Fourth Quarter Performance and Expenditure Report for the 2019/20 financial year.

 

  1. The Mandate of the Department

The Department is mandated to ensure the protection of the environment and the conservation of natural resources, balanced with sustainable development and the equitable distribution of the benefits derived from natural resources for the benefit of current and future generations. This is to be achieved while giving effect to the right of the nation to an environment that is not harmful to their health and wellbeing. This mandate is enshrined in section 24(b) of the Constitution, which stipulates specifically that “all South Africans have the right to an environment that is not harmful to their health or wellbeing, and to have the environment protected for the benefit of the present and future generations” through relevant legislation.

 

The Department provides leadership in environmental management, conversation and protection to ensure the sustainability of the South African environment for the benefit of South Africans and the global community in perpetuity.

 

2.1        Departmental Strategic Goals and Objectives

The Department’s strategic goals over the medium term are to:

  • Ensure that the Department has optimal capacity to deliver services efficiently and effectively;
  • Ensure that South Africa’s environmental assets are conserved, valued, sustainably used, protected and continually enhanced for the benefit of both current and future generations;
  • Enhance socio-economic benefits and employment creation in a safe, clean and healthy environment for both present and future generations;
  • Provide leadership in environmental management, conservation and protection towards sustainability for the benefit of both current and future generations of South Africans;
  • Manage the interface between the environment and development to encourage the transformation of the development trajectory to an environmentally sustainable, inclusive, low-carbon and green economic growth path;
  • Promote compliance with environmental legislation and act decisively against transgressors;
  • Develop and facilitate the implementation of a climate change adaptation and mitigation regulatory framework;
  • Work and participate in international and/or United Nations (UN) platforms to ensure that the international climate change and global warming is fully mitigated by the international community;
  • Facilitate the transition to environmentally sustainable, job creating and low-carbon, green development pathway through the national Green Fund and environmental projects in the Expanded Public Works Programme;
  • Improve the provision of quality waste management services across the country with clear environmental health benefits for communities, particularly those without previous access to waste management services; and
  • Participate and contribute meaningfully in the international effort, within the ambit of the United Nations, to implement the new sustainable development goals (SDGs), which has replaced and enhanced the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after 2015.

These goals are also aligned to Government’s Priority Outcome 10 (Environmental assets and natural resources that are well protected and continually enhanced) that the Department contributes to.

2.2        Legislative mandate

The core business of the Department is underpinned by the Constitution of the Republic of South Africa and all other relevant pieces of legislation that derived from it. The constitutional directive “to have the environment protected, for the benefit of present and future generations, through reasonable legislative and other measures” gave rise to the formulation and adoption of notably the National Environmental Management Act (NEMA) (Act No 107 of 1998). NEMA has undergone several amendments and has provided the bedrock for enacting the following “specific environmental management acts” (SEMAs), or issue-specific legislation on biodiversity and heritage resources; oceans and coasts; climate change and air quality management; and waste and chemicals management. Those applicable SEMAs comprise National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act No 10 of 2004; National Environmental Management: Protected Areas Act No 57 of 2003; National Environmental Management: Air Quality Act No 39 of 2004; and National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act No 24 of 2008; National Environmental Management: Waste Act No 59 2008, inter alia.

 

The transfer of the Forestry and Fisheries functions of the former Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to the Department, effective 1st April 2020, as part of the national macro-organisation of government, has meant the shifting of certain key legislation that deals with the management of these two branches to the recently constituted Department of Environment, Forestry and Fisheries (DEFF). However, the fourth quarter performance for these two branches has not been accounted for in this Preliminary BRRR Inquiry.

 

The Department fulfils its mandate through formulating, coordinating and monitoring the implementation of national environmental policies, programmes and legislation with the additional support from its entities, such as the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority (iSimangaliso), , the South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI), South African National Parks (SANParks), and the South African Weather Service (SAWS). The Department is structured into seven Programmes to ensure the effective achievement of its constitutional mandate. The nine different programmes and their purposes are reflective of the different focus areas and subsectors of environmental management. The objective of the current programme structure is to ensure that specific attention is given to each focus area of the Department’s constitutional mandate, while acknowledging the interrelationship and ensuring an integrated approach.

 

Programme 1: Administration provides strategic leadership, management and support services to the department.

 

Programme 2: Regulatory Compliance and Sector Monitoring (RCSM) promotes the development of an enabling legal regime and licensing authorisation system that will promote enforcement and compliance and ensure coordination of sector performance.

 

Programme 3: Oceans and Coasts promotes, manages and provides strategic leadership on oceans and coastal conservation, including relevant research and specialist services, as they pertain to the costal and oceans environment.

 

Programme 4: Climate Change, Air Quality and Sustainable Development: seeks to improve air and atmospheric quality, lead and support, inform, monitor and report efficient and effective international, national and significant provincial and local responses to climate change, and promote sustainable development.

 

Programme 5: Biodiversity and Conservation ensures the regulation and management of all biodiversity, natural heritage and conservation matters in a manner that facilitates sustainable economic growth and development.

 

Programme 6: Environmental Programmes is the largest departmental programme (in terms of budget allocation) and deals with the implementation of expanded public works programme and green economy projects in the environmental sector.

 

Programme 7: Chemicals and Waste Management manages and ensures that chemicals and waste management policies and legislation are implemented and enforced in compliance with chemicals and waste management authorisations, directives and agreements.

 

  1. Consideration of the Fourth Quarter Performance of the Department for the 2019/20 financial year

The Acting Director-General, Mr Ishaam Abader presented the fourth quarter performance report (2019/20) of the Department. He highlighted two achievements by the Department in the fourth quarter relating to job creation and increase in the departmental programmes as well as suspension of departmental implementers in the Nelson Mandela Municipality who were involved in corrupt activities. In addition, he mentioned that the Department spent 98 per cent of its allocated budget for the Fourth Quarter; however, he also indicated that there was an under-expenditure amounting to R126 225 000, which arose due to underspending in three departmental programmes.

 

With regard to this Preliminary Inquiry into the BRRR 2019/20 based on the fourth quarter performance, the Department achieved the following targets for its seven programmes. It is noteworthy to state that the fourth quarter performance and expenditure report was presented under the former Department of Environmental Affairs, as follows:

 

  • Administration 65 per cent (11/17);
  • LACE 60 per cent (6/10);
  • Oceans and Coasts 82 per cent (9/11);
  • Climate Change and Air Quality Management 92 per cent (12/13);
  • Biodiversity and Conservation 92 per cent (12/13);
  • Chemicals and Waste Management 50 per cent (4/8); and
  • Environmental Programmes 27 per cent (4/15).

 

The overall performance summary of the Department in the fourth quarter was 67 per cent of the targets were achieved, 30 per cent of the targets were partially achieved and three per cent were off target.

 

3.1        South African National Biodiversity Institute (SANBI)

The Acting Chief Executive Officer, Ms C Mbizvo presented SANBI’s Fourth Quarter Report for 2019/20. The Committee requested the Institute to present only those targets that were not achieved in the fourth quarter. For 2019/20, SANBI’s overall performance was that 65 per cent of its set targets were achieved, 30 per cent were partially achieved and 5 per cent were not achieved.

 

3.2        South African Weather Service (SAWS)

The Acting Chief Executive Officer, Mr N Ndabambi presented SAWS’ Fourth Quarter Report for 2019/20. The Committee requested the Entity to present only those targets that were not achieved in the Quarter. For the 2019/20 financial year, the overall performance of SAWS was that 76.2 per cent of the set targets were achieved, 14.3 per cent per cent were partially achieved and 9.5 per cent were not achieved.

 

3.3        iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority

The Chief Executive Officer, Mr M Bukhosini presented the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s Fourth Quarter for 2019/20. The Committee requested the Wetland Park Authority to present only those targets that were not achieved in the Fourth Quarter. For the 2019/20 financial year, the iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority’s overall performance was the achievement of 51 per cent of the set targets, 13 per cent per cent were partially achieved and 36 per cent were not achieved.

 

3.4        South African National Parks (SANParks)

The Chief Executive Officer, Mr F Mketeni presented the SANParks’ Fourth Quarter Report for 2019/20, highlighting and only those targets that were not achieved in the Fourth Quarter. For the 2019/20 financial year, the overall implementation of targets, 68 percent had been achieved, 15 percent was a work in progress and 17 percent was not achieved.

 

  1. Portfolio Committee observations

Having considered the inputs by the Department and entities, the Committee noted the manner in which the Department and entities strived to meet their set targets for the fourth quarter of the 2019/20 financial year under challenging conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic that the country started experiencing in the last month of the fourth quarter. Notwithstanding, the Committee still believed that the Department and entities could have achieved more, in terms of overall implementation of their respective targets, as the current levels of performance are unacceptable and point to a serious retrogression in the performance of the Department and the entities. This would hopefully become clearer during the scrutiny of the 2019/20 annual reports of the Department and entities later in the year where the Committee would make a detailed observation and recommendations.

 

  1. Recommendations of the Committee
  • The overall departmental achievement of 67 per cent of the targets was unacceptable and the Committee would like to know the amount of work that the Department did internally and that was outsourced;
  • The Committee requested the list of the Minister’s participation in stakeholder programmes for the period under review;
  • The Working for Water (WfW) Programme should work in partnership with relevant stakeholders to ensure the effective protection of all South Africa’s rivers.
  • The Committee would like to know whether the Department was working closely with communities in order to prevent the vandalisation of the air quality monitoring stations across the country during the lockdown, further underscoring the need for those monitoring stations to monitor and report on PM2.5 and PM10;
  • The Committee sought clarity on whether the Department and entities were anticipating to receive an unqualified audit opinion for the period under review; and
  • The Committee asked about the progress that the High level Panel was making and whether the report of the panel would be submitted to the Committee.

 

The Minister should submit a detailed response to the Committee on all the recommendations made in this report within 60 days after the adoption of this report by the National Assembly.

 

The Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries recommends the adoption of this Preliminary Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) for the Department of Environmental Affairs and its Public Entities for the 2019/20 financial year.

 

 

 

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