OTP Budget Speech by Premier Sylvia Lucas 2014

Speech by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Ms Sylvia Lucas, on the occasion of the tabling of the Budget Vote 1, at the Northern Cape Provincial Legislature, Thursday, 17 July 2014

 

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker
Honourable Members of the Provincial Legislature
Honourable Members of the Executive Council
Revered Members of the Provincial House of Traditional Leaders
Representatives of Business, Labour and Community–Based Organisations
Distinguished Guests
Ladies and Gentlemen

Premised on the overwhelming mandate accorded by the Ruling Party, our beloved ANC, it is my honour and privilege to present to this august house the details of the budget of the Office of the Premier for the 2014/2015 Financial Year.

Mr Speaker, this budget speech is taking place in our first term during the second phase of our transition at a time when South Africans are celebrating 20 years of democracy and freedom. Indeed we are celebrating the remarkable gains we made in a relatively short space of time. President Zuma stated in his reply to the State of the Nation Debate that: “Twenty years of freedom and democracy have changed the face of our country. The last five years have further advanced change and a better life for all, especially the poor and the working class.”

Honourable Speaker, we have all been on the campaign trail and we have seen the living conditions of our people. We have all promised, I am certain, to make life better for them. We are charged with that challenge to make things better for them and with the necessary speed.

Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members, allow me to take this opportunity to, once more, express our gratitude to the people of our country, particularly those living in the Province, for electing the African National Congress to lead the transformation and developmental agenda of our beloved Province.

Honourable Speaker and Members, as a Party that always takes its mandate and responsibilities very seriously; we have since appointed a team of highly capable men and women to lead government. They are acutely aware of the action--oriented and people-centred vision which the current government has assumed and they are already moving with incredible speed to ensure that services are rolled out to our people in an effective, efficient and cost effective manner.

The radical second phase of our transition to a national democratic society needs bold thinking and decisive action to completely eradicate the legacy of apartheid and colonisation. It requires men and women with the capacity to think ahead and the capacity to inspire.

From the onset, we identified a set of levers that the Office will be utilising henceforth in ensuring that government remains focused on the work at hand. This strategic approach is informed by the Ruling Party’s Manifesto priorities. In this term our focus remains on the following key priorities, namely:

  • Economy and jobs
  • Human Settlements and Basic services
  • Rural Development, Land Reform and Food Security
  • Education and Training
  • Health
  • Fighting Crime and Corruption
  • Social Cohesion and Nation Building; and
  • A better Africa and a better world

Honourable Speaker and Deputy Speaker, July is the birthday month of our world icon, Isithwalandwe and former President of South Africa, Tata Nelson Mandela. The 2014 Mandela Day Celebrations has great national significance as we honour our international icon, and Father of our Democracy.

It is during this time of the year that all South Africans and every citizen of the world pay tribute to this giant that fearlessly, fiercely and selflessly fought for South Africans to live in a free, democratic and just society.

It is only appropriate that we continue to honour his rich legacy of helping people who are destitute and in need of social upliftment. Ladies and Gentlemen, from tomorrow onwards, we will travel through the length and breadth of our province visiting, towns, villages, farms and rural areas to launch a multitude of projects for the upliftment of needy people.

To us, everyday is Mandela Day to enable us to leave an indelible and profound memory of substantial change in the lives of our people. In line with President Jacob Zuma’s pronouncement during the State of the Nation Address, we will embark on a massive clean-up and greening campaign in our towns, schools and other areas. Through these tangible efforts, we hope to touch the lives of our people in a meaningful and positive manner.

Mr Speaker,

Through our performance monitoring and evaluation system we will also strive for continuous improvement in service delivery. Our mission is to work with all stakeholders to improve government performance in achieving the desired outcomes and to improve service delivery through changing the way government works, both in a creative and innovative manner. We are transforming government into an effective organisation which constantly collects evidence to gauge whether its policies and programmes are working, and as a consequence, we use this evidence to inform interventions we make.

As we apply ourselves to these and other tasks, we will be guided by the National Development Plan which seeks to radically transform the economy that will benefit all South Africans. It seeks to do so while protecting existing jobs and through creating millions more.

Mr Speaker,

The State of the Province Address enjoined us to embrace the National Development Plan as the blueprint to fundamentally transform our society and accelerate basic services to all the citizens of our province. The stated objective of the NDP is one of writing a different story in the years ahead, a story wherein every citizen is concerned about the wellbeing of other citizens.

As the Provincial Government we are therefore prioritising the establishment of the Northern Cape Planning Commission. At the inaugural meeting of the National Planning Commission in May 2010, the President, Mr. Jacob Zuma stated that, “For the first time in our country’s history we will begin to chart our way forward in a purposeful manner with a view to the country’s long term interest”.

It is against this backdrop that we are engaging the National Treasury to assist the Province with the establishment of the Northern Cape Planning Commission. This Commission will have the necessary authority to lead planning and direct policy implementation towards the achievement of common provincial goals as set out in the Provincial Development Plan, the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy and the Provincial Spatial Development Framework.

Currently the Planning function is coordinated by the Development and Planning directorates in the Office of the Premier, the Department of Co-operative Governance, Human Settlements and Traditional Affairs and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism. It goes without saying that this poses some challenges and leads to planning being very fragmented. The mandate of this Planning Commission will be to take a broad cross cutting, independent and critical view of the Province in order to assist us in achieving the Northern Cape we envisage in 20 years time.

The first output will thus be to draft Vision 2030 that sets out the intention for high level development of the social, economic and political society. We remain committed to seeing this succeed.

As the apex of the Provincial Government, the Office of the Premier has the responsibility of coordinating, monitoring and evaluating the work of government across the entire Provincial administration. The scope of this responsibility includes the local sphere of government. As a result we view the performance of local government as critical in our efforts to respond urgently to the pressing issues that communities have raised and mandated us to prioritise as the ANC-led government.

In this term of office, attention will be given to municipalities to reinforce their capacity for accelerated delivery of municipal services as well as to improve their effectiveness and efficiency.

The Office of the Premier has also provided sound leadership in the implementation and coordination of the key infrastructure development projects such as Sol Plaatje University, Square Kilometre Array (Carnarvon), Solar and the related renewable energy sectors.

The Provincial Renewable Energy Strategy has been developed to unlock existing potential and to position the province to attract both local and foreign investment.

In terms of the strategy, we will become a net producer of renewable energy to the rest of the country by 2020. The Renewable Energy Independent Producers Procurement Programme, directed by the Department of Energy, has thus far approved 31 projects for the province. This means that we are well on our way to become the renewable energy hub of the country with prospecting for shale gas also underway in the Province.

On this topic it gives me great pleasure to announce that this week in Good News South Africa, the Province earned top honours with the Northern Cape counting comfortably amongst the top ten in terms of countries that are supplying solar power to the world.

To keep abreast with the changes and opportunities that the renewable energy sector presents, we have engaged various stakeholders including the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority to fund learners from the Province to undergo accredited training programmes at the Central University of Technology in the Free State with the express purpose of transferring knowledge and expertise to contribute to developing the local solar industry. This will assist us to close the skills gap along the clean energy value chain.

Honourable Speaker, in our attempt to provide fresh impetus to stimulate the provincial economy, barely two weeks ago I led a Provincial Government delegation to Spain on a fact finding mission on renewable energy and co-operative industrialization model.

Our visit was most beneficial within the context of the independent power producing initiatives and related activities in the Province, especially with regard to the construction of a Renewable Energy Centre for Training, Certification and applied research.

We will therefore ensure that the solar industry in the Northern Cape would not lack skilled labour and the technological services required to support a steady economic growth in the sector.

The Office of the Premier will also shortly establish a Provincial Business Working Group to lend tangible impetus to our developmental agenda. Our express aim is to regularly engage with business to unlock private sector investment, build investor confidence and to build mutual trust and cooperation between our respective sectors.

Honourable Speaker and Members, in our first term of this second phase of our transition, the Ruling Party will be paying more attention to gearing the economy towards robust economic growth that leads to exponential job creation and development. We will continue to ensure that local people benefit from business opportunities, skills development programmes and employment opportunities created by the local economy.

Tabling of the Budget Vote

Honourable Speaker and Honourable Members, having outlined the broad plans and priorities for the year, I now have the honour to table Budget Vote 1, Office of the Premier for 2014/2015. The total amount to be appropriated to fund the requirements of Vote 1 this financial year is R173, 3 million.

This year’s budget is R13.87 million lesser compared to last year’s final budget of R187.1 million.  This means we must do more with less!

Mr Speaker, as a result of the hard work from the Director-General and his dedicated team, the Office of the Premier received an unqualified audit opinion from the Office of the Auditor-General during the previous audit cycle.

Furthermore, I am pleased to report that there were also no material audit findings on pre-determined objectives.  I expect similar audit outcomes during the current audit cycle that is being finalized by AG and express the sincere wish that this is replicated in all state entities and government departments throughout the Province.

Despite all budgetary challenges that we are faced with, we remain committed to both the good cause of delivering better and quality service to our people, and we will not loose sight of the fact that our over-riding objective is to create “a better life for all.”

The budget breakdown per programme for this financial year is as follows:

  • Programme 1: Administration.  R76, 7 million
  • Programme 2: Institutional Development. R64, 1 million
  • Programme 3: Policy & Governance. R32, 5 million

PROGRAMME 1: ADMINISTRATION

Mr Speaker, the purpose of this programme is to provide administrative support to the Premier, Executive Council and the Director-General in fulfilling their executive functions and ensuring sound financial management support and advisory services within the Office of the Premier.

The role of the Premier’s support sub–programme is to provide efficient and effective personnel, strategic, operational, and administrative and secretariat support to the Premier. The Premier’s Support Programme has been allocated R16.5 million in order to meet the Premier’s statutory and political obligations.

The Director General’s Support programme is to provide operational, strategic and administrative support to the DG to enable him to execute his various coordinating roles in the Provincial administration.

Despite all the available challenges, the Director-General will continue with his operation clean audit efforts in partnership with affected stakeholders in the quest to improve audit outcomes at the local government. The Director General’s Support Programme receives R8.9 million.

To preserve the corporate memory and provide for a safe working environment in the Office of the Premier; Security and Records Management received R8.2 million.

R31 million has been allocated to the Finance section to ensure corporate financial reporting, financial and management accounting, contract management and supply chain management for the office of the Premier. As part of driving the policy imperative of ‘Clean Audit’ by all departments of government in 2014, we also tracked progress relating to the implementation of audit findings.

The Executive Council Support Programme will continue to provide strategic, policy and operational support to the Executive Council through secretarial services, programme & decision management and implementation to enable the Executive Council to function optimally. The Executive Council Support Programme is allocated R7.7 million.

The Executive Council Support Programme will continue to provide support to the Cabinet outreach programme. The outreach programme will see members of the Northern Cape Executive Council and senior government officials conducting door to door visits to poor households as well as conducting community meetings. This programme was started in the 1990’s and has proven to be a great success. The visits to the areas in the Province are principally aimed at fast tracking the provision of government services to the communities.

Last year alone 25 towns were visited and a number of social issues were raised by communities and were accordingly addressed. Communities benefitted from improved health, social and economic services. During this year we shall continue with our engagements with communities in order to improve their lives.

The Provincial Aids Council Secretariat receives R3.8 million to provide support to the Provincial Council on AIDS (PCA) that is coordinating and implementing the multi-sectoral Provincial Strategic Plan for HIV and TB in the province.

That brings me to PROGRAMME 2 which is responsible for Institutional Development.

Mr Speaker and Honourable Members, the purpose of this programme is to improve service delivery through institutional capacity building and transformation management in the province.

An institution’s soundness can also be measured by its Human Resource Management. Critical to this function in the office is to coordinate and provide strategic leadership to all Provincial Departments with regard to transversal corporate matters to enhance transformation of the public service.

The key focus of the Human Resource Administration component is to manage and co-ordinate the human resource administration functions in the Office as well as provincially.

The Strategic Human Resources Sub-Programme co-ordinates and monitors the customisation, development and implementation of human resources policies, systems, programmes and plans for the Province.

HRA will monitor and review the implementation of the transversal HR policies in the Provincial administration. This includes advising Provincial departments on HR compliance issues. Human Resource Administration (HRA & HRM) receives R5.5 million.

R9.8 million will fund activities relating to coordinated planning, implementation, reporting, monitoring and evaluation of human resource development and skills development strategy and initiatives in the province.

Achievements in the Human Resource Administration in the past year that deserve a mention include reducing the vacancy rate to 10.3% at 31 March 2014; from the internship programme of 2012/2013 four (4) interns were absorbed into permanent positions. A total of 16 new appointments have been made in the previous financial year, of which three are promotions from other departments to OTP.

Thirteen officials were promoted internally on posts that were vacant and funded during the financial year. The unit successfully implemented the Job Evaluation Coordination process of clerical staff within OTP of which 15 were upgraded to a higher salary level

We will continue for the 2014/15 financial year to focus on skills development of our employees through the Workplace Skills Plan as well as the provision of Bursaries. Last year alone 40 bursaries were awarded to officials to improve their qualifications.

The Human Resource Development unit placed six interns in the Department to obtain relevant on the job experience. A further 200 FET learners were also placed in Provincial Government Departments for workplace integrated learning.

Government in taking the lead in job creation and economic sustainability will fill all funded vacant posts in the Province to contribute in a meaningful manner to our job creation target.  In this regard the performance monitoring and evaluation unit has been charged to provide a report within six months.

A highlight for the Office was the adoption of a key set of interventions to strengthen the coordination and implementation of Human Resource Development initiatives. This led to the establishment of a Provincial Human Resource Development Council that will serve as a platform for all public and private sector stakeholders to engage on common matters related to human resource development. Some of the work of the council will also entail assisting the Province to source funding from the National Skills Fund which aims to address skills shortages and challenges.

Honourable Members, education remains the cornerstone of our future and is therefore correctly labelled as an apex priority. R13.8 million has been set aside for the Premier’s Bursary Fund.

The objective of the Fund is to make higher education opportunities available on a full-time basis to Northern Cape youth that have academic potential but have no financial means. For the 2014 academic year, funding is set aside for 150 new students and 373 continuing students in various institutions of higher learning.  Funding allocation for the students is informed by skills required by the Provincial economy.   132 students are expected to complete their studies in 2014. I can proudly announce that 50 students benefiting from the NCPETF successfully completed their studies in the 2013 academic year.

Efficiency Services is responsible to provide professional Human Resource Planning, organisational design and efficiency enhancement services to advance continuous service delivery improvement within the Office of the Premier.  The unit has an additional coordinating role on HR efficiency issues in the Provincial administration. R4.8 million has been allocated for Efficiency Services.

A primary challenge faced by the Office of the Premier is that the organisational structure is not adequately responsive to the demands of the current environment that calls for more coordination, monitoring and evaluation. For this reason the Efficiency Services unit has started work in terms of realigning the organisational structure with the national generic framework in order to allow it to perform its primary responsibility and thus pursue the achievement of the outcomes of Government.

The Labour Relations Unit helps to coordinate labour related issues in the Provincial administration to ensure a harmonious working environment that supports service delivery. The Labour Relations Unit receives R3.6 million.

The Employee Health and Wellness Unit coordinates the implementation of wellness programs in the Northern Cape Provincial Administration to improve the morale of the workforce and related issues. Employee Health and Wellness is allocated R2.8 million.

Honourable Members, as part of addressing the digital divide, government will: Deploy ICT solutions to improve service delivery in health, education and other key services; and identify opportunities for small business development in the ICT sector. The ICT Unit will complete the implementation of phase 1 of the Provincial IT plan and commence with the implementation of phase 2.  The ICT Unit is also providing support and coordinates the activities of Thusong Centres which provide direct services to the people from various national and provincial departments in four regions. R10.6 Million has been allocated to the ICT unit.

Mr Speaker, we will continue to strengthen our communication services to ensure effective communication with the people of the Province, our partners and key stakeholders in business, civil society, and the global community as a whole.

Highlights of this unit during the previous year included follow up and resolving queries received through the Presidential Hotline, which led us to achieving a 100% reporting rate and receiving a commendation from the Presidency.

The unit also led a groundbreaking production of a TV series, aptly termed a “Nation at Work” highlighting the achievements and challenges in service delivery that the Province faces. This series was showcased weekly for 13 weeks on SABC 2 with repeats on the pay channel of SABC. During this financial year the unit will seek unique and innovative ways to continue to manage and promote programmes through communications and marketing campaigns, production of media and provision of media production services for the Office of the Premier as well as the Northern Cape Provincial Government. We will also promote development communication through direct interactive communication with Northern Cape communities and provide the public with access to information. This unit has been allocated an amount of R 4 million.

The Legal Services Unit has been resourceful in providing legal counsel to the Executive Council and employees in general. Furthermore, the Unit renders legal advisory support services to the Office of the Premier to ensure that constitutional obligations are met.  Furthermore, the unit has a coordinating role in the provincial administration on legal matters and has received R5. 5 million.

The main purpose of the Programme Support unit is to provide administrative and management support to the DDG: Institutional Development as well as the coordination and management of units in the programme. Programme Support   is allocated R3.2 million.

3. PROGRAMME THREE: POLICY & GOVERNANCE

Honourable Members, the purpose of this programme is to initiate provincial wide development and implementation of strategies and policies to achieve a co-ordinated approach towards sustainable provincial growth and development.

The Northern Cape will continue to foster strong inter- governmental relations through the Premier’s Coordinating Forum and the Extended Executive Council Makgotla to jointly address matters affecting the provincial and local spheres of government.

The IGR sub programme manages and co-ordinates Provincial intergovernmental relations and protocol. Intergovernmental Relations receives: R2.3 million.

Director of special programmes - manages and coordinates the implementation of the equity plan and programmes of older persons. (R 2 million) is allocated to this unit.

The Office on the Status of Women gets (R2.5 million + R 4 million). Through its activities, the Office on the Status of Women (OSW) ensures that women are included in all processes of consultation, policy formulation, decision-making and evaluation to ensure gender equality.  R2.5 million is set aside for these activities.

Ladies and Gentlemen, R4 million has been set aside for transfer to Mme Re Ka Thusa Women Development Trust during the 2014/15 financial year.  The trust was incorporated to help previously disadvantaged women on economic empowerment initiatives in the Northern Cape.  During the 2014-15 financial year, the trust will target 50 women with existing businesses to be trained to obtain drivers’ licences.  Thirty five mostly new companies to be owned by women are targeted for business related training that will culminate in grant allocations.

Fifty existing companies are targeted to receive loans for capital injection. These efforts will contribute to wider job creation programmes of the provincial government.

During last year I personally presided over five awareness District summits that culminated in a Provincial Summit reaching out to 4 185 women. After the summits, 32 interest free loans were granted to qualifying women and 35 are being given business training which will confer them with grants for their business initiatives.

The Office on the Status of Persons with Disabilities (OSPD) will continue to embark on programmes geared towards building capacity in the Northern Cape Provincial Government to enhance government’s ability to implement the recommendations contained in the integrated National Disability Strategy. The Office of the Status of Persons with Disabilities will receive - R1.7 million.

Through its programme of action, the Office on the Rights of the Child (ORC) will continue to focus on creating an enabling and supportive environment for children by developing an effective, co-ordinated and holistic response to issues of children.  The Office on the Rights of the Child gets: R2.2 million.

Moral Regeneration Movement - It will mainstream moral regeneration issues. R1.8 million is allocated to this programme.

Provincial Policy Management Unit will facilitate and coordinate the implementation of goals set in the National Development Plan through interaction with planning functions in the NC provincial administration.

It will monitor and evaluate the implementation of the Provincial Growth and Development Strategy (PGDS), government’s special projects & programme of action.

It will continue to coordinate the implementation and development of the Renewable Energy projects in Northern Cape. R5.6 million is allocated to this unit.

Mr Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Monitoring & Evaluation Unit tracks the performance of provincial government on service delivery initiatives and interventions.  One of the key projects of the unit is the coordination of province-wide MPAT (Management Performance Assessment Tool) where the government is assessing its performance in all material aspects which culminate in the announcement of performance results by the Presidency for all provinces. It receives R7.2 million.

The purpose of the Programme Support Unit is to ensure the effective and efficient implementation of governments’ programme of action and management of units within the programme. R3 million is allocated to this unit.

In closing, I wish to thank the DG and his entire team, as well as the staff in my office for all their hard work and support. I also wish to thank my family as well as the ANC for their invaluable support and guidance.

Moreover, together with my colleagues on the Executive Council, I can confidently state that we have a clear vision for the Northern Cape Province that will certainly yield economic prosperity, peace and stability for all.  Work has begun in earnest and we count on the support of each and every citizen of the Province.

Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my sincere belief that with this budget we will continue to strive to make the Northern Cape a better place to live in, a place for all of us to be proud of. A home for all!

Honourable Speaker let me emphasise that, for us to move South Africa forward, unity of purpose will always be central in our endeavours to create a better Northern Cape Province and South Africa for all.

Honourable Speaker, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is my privilege now to table to the House the Budget of the Office of the Premier for consideration and endorsement.

I thank you

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