Highlights of the Budget Vote Speeches of the Departments of: Public Enterprises Labour; Health; Energy; and Higher Education & Training
In his Budget Vote Speech (1 June), Minister of Public Enterprises Malusi Gigaba emphasised the need to forge partnerships with the private sector to mobile skills and capital in pursuing national interests.
Acknowledging that the fiscus alone was unable to meet funding requirements, the Minister stated that he intends to "engage creatively" with the private sector to inrease the rate of investment, particularly with regard to the energy sector.
Since April 2010, Eskom had signed five contracts with Independent Power Producers totalling 373MW of capacity. On renewable energy, the Minister announced that Eskom had securted a US$365 million loan from the African Development Bank for solar and wind power plants. Eskom had also submitted a US$250 million loan application to the World Bank for funding from the Clean Technology Fund.
The Portfolio Committee on Public Enterprises noted in its report on the budget that:
1) The Department's staff turnover rate and lack of scarce skills was a concern; it recommended that a strategy be put in place to recruit and retain scarce skills at all levels
2) The oversight role of the Department over State Owned Enterprises needed to be hands-on and pro-active
3) Parliament needed to play an activist role in executing its oversight role over the Department
Labour Minister Mildred Oliphant used her Budget Vote Speech (24 May) to highlight government initiatives to create jobs and improve productivity.
The Minister noted that over 20 million workdays had been lost in 2010 due to industrial strike action at a time when the world was being hit by an economic
downturn. The Department will be studying industrial actions with a view to improving labour relations, stability and industrial peace.
Job creation initiatives to be launched by the Department include the training and reskilling of workers to enable them to compete in the open economy.
The Department also intends addressing policy gaps in Sheltered Employment Factories, which provide employment to people with disabilities.
Following its hearings on the Labour Department's budget for 2011/12, the Portfolio Committee on Labour recommended that:
1) The Department amend its strategic plan to include specific numerical targets in order for Parliament to exercise proper oversight
2) The use of consultants be monitored closely to avoid excessive use of those skills without the building of internal capacity
3) The Department monitor the strategic plans of entities it oversees (CCMA, UIF, Compensation Fund...) to ensure that targets were stringent
Energy Minister Dipuo Peters outlined her Department's plans for a diversified energy mix during her Budget Vote Speech (26 May).
Coal (14%), nuclear (22%), Open Cycle Gas Turbine (9.2%), Closed Cycle Gas Turbine (5.6%) and Renewable Energy Carriers -
including Hydro (6.1%), wind (19.7%) solar (2.4%) and PV (19.7%) would contribute towards energy generation under the Intergrated Resource Plan for Electricity.
In response to the Department's proposed budget, the Portfolio Committee on Energy recommended that:
1) The Department urgently address challenges in electricity distribution, rehabilitation and mantainance of infrastructure
2) The Department consider the release of the reviewed white paper on renewable energy for public comment
3) That SA's target of achieving at least 10 000 GWh power produced by 2013 be prioritised
Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi used his Budget Speech (31 May) to outline a re-engineering strategy for SA's healthcare system, which would entail teams
of healthcare workers being deployed to district clinics, schools and communities.
The Minister also highlighted the success of his HIV Testing and Counselling (HTC) Campaign, which has resulted in 50% more people receiving ARV treatment since
the campaign commenced. The Department had also been able to reduce the cost of ARV's by 53%, making treatment accessible to more people.
In its report on the budget, the Health Portfolio Committee recommended that the Department:
1) Increase its outreach programme on educating communities on HIV/AIDS
2) Address the backlog in forensic chemistry as a matter of urgency
3) Work closely with doctors in mines to reduce TB in the mining industry
4) Require tertiary hospitals to account to the National Department of Health
A significant portion of Minister of Higher Education Blade Nzimande's Budget Vote Speech (26 May) centred on Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges.
During his speech, the Minister announced that 169 000 students enrolled at Further Education and Training (FET) Colleges would receive free tuition - amounting to R1.25
billion in state bursaries. The Department is aiming to transform and improve FET colleges over the coming years so that they offer mid-level skills training needed in
However, the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education noted in its report on the Budget Vote that the curriculum of FET colleges required urgent review and that the
Department's targetted pass rate for FET colleges was modest.
In terms of skills development, the Committee also noted that many students struggle to obtain experiential learning in workplaces, and that SETAs were not cooperating in