Modern, Growing, Successful Province

Expanded Public Works Programme Summit

Address by the Premier of the Northern Cape, Mrs Hazel Jenkins, on the occasion of the Expanded Public Works Programme Summit, 27 September 2011, CRC
It is a great honour and pleasure for me to address this milestone Expanded Public Works Programme Summit which is being attended by the eminent representatives of the province.

The Summit follows the 1st ever National Expanded Public Works (EPWP) Summit which was held in October last year, at the Inkosi Albert Luthuli International Convention Centre in Durban.

Indeed, this Provincial Summit is a significant occasion to realise the objectives of the Expanded Public Works Programme, wherein we are hosting all our 32 Municipalities and other Public Bodies implementing EPWP in the Province.

It is important to recognize that the EPWP is one of the key direct interventions in alleviating and even contributing towards halving poverty by 2014 in line with the Millennium Development Goals.

This goal will be undermined if all spheres of government do not work together in an integrated and structured manner. And this Summit observes and recognizes Chapter 3 of our Constitution, which encourages and promotes the notion of cooperative governance.

This formidable cooperation is being enjoyed through commitment by the National Departments in the Province, Provincial Departments as well as all our Municipalities in the Province. This event can only enhance cooperation for the benefit of our previously marginalized communities.

The Summit takes place merely 3 months after the successful Local Government elections, where our communities exercised their democratic right to elect their public representatives. The timing is therefore perfect for new public representatives to renew their social contracts with their communities and chart a way forward for innovative collaboration and strategic partnerships for the implementation of the EPWP in the Province.

EPWP is now in its 8th year of implementation and valuable lessons have been learned since its inception. As a result, it was realized that to have a noticeable impact on unemployment and poverty, the second phase must be scaled up with the involvement of all spheres of government, and particularly local government, who are at the coalface of service delivery.

Ladies and Gentlemen, in order to encourage upscaling of EPWP at local government level, there has been a key adjustment to the programme design, which includes allocation of more funds to those Municipalities and Provinces that provide more jobs to communities, whilst delivering much needed services. These fund allocations come in the form of incentives, which are paid out upon performance of the public body.

In September 2009, the Premier of the NC, signed a protocol agreement with the former Minister of Public Works, in which she committed targets that the Province will fulfil in order to access these incentives. Overall the Province will contribute 4% towards the Country’s EPWP targets, which included municipal targets. Provincially, the protocol set an overall target of 135,295 jobs in 5 years (2009 – 2014) of which 106, 193 or 78% will be delivered by Provincial Departments across all sectors and 29, 102 or 22% will be delivered by Municipalities.

It is however a concern that less than 50% of our Municipalities are reporting sufficiently in order to access these incentives. In 2009/10 only 6 Municipalities had signed incentive agreements. In 2010/2011 only 12 signed incentive agreements with only 13 Municipalities signing incentive agreements in this Financial Year (2011/12).

This means that over 19 Municipalities will not access more than R68million that has been allocated to the Province as incentives for Municipalities. It must be stressed that this allocation cannot be accessed if Municipalities do not report and then sign incentive agreements with the National Public Works Department through the Province. This presents an unacceptable picture in our effort to upscale EPWP as it is clear that jobs are created, however they are insufficiently reported or not reported at all to the Provincial Department of Roads & Public Works.

Ladies and Gentlemen, more work and deliberate political intervention is required through our Mayors to ensure all projects are sufficiently reported. Reporting jobs created within your projects is the only way of improving the Province’s performance as well as accessing the incentive.

In the first Quarter of 2011/12 (April – June 2011) only 8 Municipalities reported work opportunities to the Department of Roads & Public Works. This is evident that without a deliberate strategic and political intervention, the Province will lose the battle of fighting unemployment and poverty as our incentives allocation will lie untouched and returned to Treasury year after year.

Also, in the first quarter of this Financial Year (2011/2012) Municipalities achieved only 18% of their year target and Provincial Departments achieved 23% of their year targets. The expected performance was 25%.

This sample picture is of great concern and it is believed that in the coming two days further engagements and deliberations with Departmental officials will work towards improving this bleak picture if the Province is to meet its annual targets.

It is important to note that there are still three quarters more to go to achieve about 19,157 work opportunities so this challenged must be approached with increased vigour and renewed enthusiasm.

It is also important to recognize and acknowledge the average performance of other Public Bodies that continue to make the Province proud. These include the Social Sector in the Province, led by the Departments of Social Development, Health and Education which continue to be the strongest sector, thus reflecting the social challenges faced by our communities. This sector, won the Province an award as “The Best Province: Social Sector” in the Last National Kamoso Awards, held early this year. This sector is continuing to improve and new programs are being introduced as new opportunities for growth and expansion arise.

The three Departments have maximized their incentives by accessing and spending almost 97% of the allocation they received in incentives. In the 2010/2011 Financial Year, this sector created 2,612 work opportunities against a target of 4,372 which represents 60% of their annual target. Therefore, their secret of consistent success is very simple: Reporting.

Another Public Body that deserves mentioning is this Summit’s host Municipality, Sol Plaatje. This Municipality continues to report better and higher work opportunities than all 32 Municipalities in the Province. In the last Financial Year, Sol Plaatje reported 1,755 of the 2,000 work opportunities created by all Municipalities in the Province. In Q1 (April – June 2011), Sol Plaatje Municipality reported 686 of the 956 work opportunities created by all Municipalities in the Province. This Municipality also won the prestigious award for “The Best Local Municipality” at the National Kamoso Awards held in Johannesburg early this year.

While noting challenges experienced by other poor-reporting Municipalities, a massive improvement of data quality and establishment of effective reporting structures are required as a matter of urgency. We are confident that after taking stock of our shortcomings, this summit will pave the way for our Municipalities and Provincial Departments to start placing EPWP at the nerve centre of creating work opportunities in order to fight poverty and unemployment.

Through this Summit, we challenge all Municipalities to dig deep and up their game in creating more jobs through their MIG Allocations and reporting such efforts accordingly.

In summary, we need to acknowledge our partnership and collaboration which we have with different Public Bodies; and these are as follows:

* National Department of Public Works which continues to provide the Province with valuable and unwavering support in order to implement EPWP;.
* Independent Development Trust (IDT), which has been entrusted with the responsibility of ensuring the implementation of EPWP through mobilization of additional capacity outside government to contribute to job creation. Through recruitment of FBOs (Faith Based Organisations); CBOs (Community Based Organisations), NPOs (Non-Profit Organisations) our EPWP efforts can be maximized and diversified.
* CIDB, which continues to challenge the implementing bodies to think outside the box with programs aimed at increasing labour intensity and streamlining contractor development programs.
* SALGA, which is key in bridging the gap between the local government sphere and the Province; and
* All other National Departments in the Province that continue to provide policy guidance to their respective sectors.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are confident that the decisions that you will arrive at in this summit will serve as a catalyst for enormous labour intensive work opportunities and development for the people of the province. Furthermore, it must ensure that all municipalities access grants through proper reporting as well as exploring ways of improving the overall job creation drive.

I thank you

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