I would like to thank the Director-General and his colleagues in the Department of the Premier for their role in finalising our 2011/2012 Budget Adjustments.
A lot of hard work has gone into adapting this budget in line with our new priorities and focus areas. I appreciate all the effort that has gone into ensuring that the policy direction of this government is backed by the necessary financial resources to accomplish our aims. This has also been achieved despite the impact of the necessary austerity drive announced this year by the National Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan on the provincial financial position.
The 2011/2012 Adjustments Estimate is an opportunity for the Department of the Premier Executive to seek the provincial parliament's approval for technical adjustments to the 2011/2012 main budget. These changes largely relate to additional funds received, and shifts made between and within votes.
However, due to the austerity drive, the province has taken a conservative approach to the Adjustments Estimate this year. As Minister Winde said in his Medium Term Policy Statement last week: "we have to do more with less" That is why funds that would normally be found in an Adjustments Estimate such as roll overs, revenue retention and salary improvement monies, have been left out of this budget round and have rather been retained as a buffer for the 2012/2013 Main Budget process, where we are expecting even bigger cuts.
This is a prudent and necessary move to prevent extensive service delivery cuts in next year's austerity budget from which all frills and unnecessary spending must be cut. Speaker, the result is that I do not have much to present today when it comes to shifts within Vote one. I have therefore decided to use the opportunity I have today to briefly present these main technical shifts and to then provide a progress update on some of the promises and announcements I made during the Department of the Premier's Budget speech in March.
First, when it comes to the 2011/2012 Adjustments Budget. The Department of the Premier's baseline budget has been reduced by R3.179 million taking the total adjusted appropriation to R694 018 000. This amount has been shifted to other votes to fund a number of important projects and programmes such as:
- The provincial department's Employee Wellness Programmes (R2.679 million).
- The Department of Health's Surveillance Research project (R250 000).
- COP17 (R50 000) through the Department of Environmental Affairs and Development Planning.
- The Accessibility analysis conducted by the Department of Local Government of all the Thusong centres in the province (R200 000).
The other main technical shifts that were included in Vote One's Adjustments Estimate are:
- An amount of R6 million has been made available to the Provincial Development Council (PDC) for their operations while the PDC Repeal Bill parliamentary process was being concluded. We stated in the 2011/2012 Main Budget that we would continue to fund their expenditures and we have kept our promise. However, the result is that there is less money for other crucial programmes and services in the Department including funding for projects falling under our Human Rights Directorate aimed at uplifting women, children and people living with disabilities. It has also contributed towards the delay in the capacitation of our post structures with much needed staff.
- An amount of R6 082 million has been shifted to the Compensation of Employees budget of Human Resource Management (HRM) as the Provincial Treasury initially only funded 50 per cent of the excess staff funding requirement in the hope that affected staff would find appropriate placement. While we have managed to place 436 staff members, 18 staff members, 4 of whom are SMS staff, still need to be placed. This has resulted in pressure on the HRM budget. This funding was sourced mainly from Programme 5: Corporate Assurance where expected legal services contingencies did not materialise and the scarcity of skills impacted on the filling of posts. It is important for me to clarify, that this additional funding does not mean that we have expanded the HRM Unit. We remain committed to keeping our human resource component as streamlined as possible.
- Within the Centre for E-Innovation (CEI) a capital amount of R10 million was reclassified as current expenditure to allow the branch to invest in professional services. As part of our commitment to ensuring our government is on the cutting edge of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) we have also ensured that no funding has been shifted away from Programme 4: Centre for E-Innovation These are the most significant adjustments in our budget.
I will now briefly touch on the progress we have made on some of the programmes and projects I announced in my Budget Speech at the beginning of the year. First, when it comes to Programme 4, significant progress has been made in respect of the implementation of the IT Services Blueprint, which has resulted in improved audit outcomes and improved service delivery to all provincial departments. Some other key highlights under this programme are:
- Over 7400 users (or over 50% of the total user base) have now been migrated to the new technology platform - an increase of 4500 users since the end of the last financial year;
- The Broadband collaboration with the City of Cape Town has also shifted into high-gear and a Service Level Agreement with the City will be signed shortly. This will ensure that more Western Cape Government sites receive Broadband connectivity;
- Channels such as the Internet Portal, Walk-in Centre, E-mail Channel and the Call Centre have been upgraded and enhanced to improve the citizens' interface with government via electronic means and good progress is being made with the establishment of a further six Cape Access Centres;
- Finally, significant attention is being paid to further improving IT Security and finalising the Western Cape Government Disaster Recovery Plan.
Speaker, I also announced that under Programme 2: Provincial Strategic Management we had increased our capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation of our strategic objectives by establishing our Executive Provincial Dashboard.
The Dashboard gives at-a-glance information on any given project and red flags those projects that are falling behind schedule or running over budget. I also announced that members of the public would be able to access the Dashboard on our provincial government website by the end of the financial year.
I am pleased to announce that this has occurred and to date 183 projects have been loaded on to the Dashboard for public viewing. These projects are all related to the departmental Annual Performance Plans (APP) for the financial year 2011/2012 and are also strategic projects which mean they are aligned to the Premier's Priorities, Provincial Minister's priorities, the Provincial Strategic Objectives and our National outcomes.
Furthermore, we have also sorted out the teething problems we experienced when it came to browsers, other than Internet Explorer being able to access the Dashboard. The application was enhanced in order to make it accessible when using any of the popular internet browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome. These changes were completed, tested and went live on 28 November. I also mentioned in my Budget speech that tackling corruption is one of the key priorities of this government. Under Programme 5: Corporate Assurance we have paid special attention to strengthening our Forensic Investigating Unit. I announced at the time that we had more than halved our case backlog from 115 to 49. We have reduced this backlog even further to 32 and have also managed to improve the average turnaround time of cases being investigated from 332 days to 218 days.
When it comes to Programme one: Executive Support, I announced that our government hosting the Regional Leader's Summit towards the end of last year had resulted in joint projects with Quebec, Shandong and Georgia over and above a number of very productive partnerships we already have with Bavaria and Upper Austria.
I am pleased to announce that officials from our government have undertaken a number of visits to these regions in order to strengthen bilateral relations over the past few months including:
- A Western Cape delegation led by Provincial Minister of Agriculture Mr Gerrit van Rensburg attending the Yantai International Wine Festival in Shandong. The delegation was accompanied by 23 Private Wine Companies (20 Western Cape and 3 Chinese agents) who were provided with the opportunity to exhibit their wines at this major event.
- Officials from the Western Cape Department of Agriculture and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism also attended the McGill Conference on Global Food Security in Quebec in October, which sought to explore the impact of climate change on food supplies, with a focus on developing countries.
- During October 2011, officials from the Western Cape Department of Transport and Public Works under took visits to Bavaria and Quebec to engage on integrated transport and study the institutional arrangements, the regulatory environment and policies on public transport in both these regions.
I also announced that the Department of the Premier would be focusing on a project to curb teenage pregnancies under Programme one.
One of the ways we would try to achieve this is through education and outreach and we have been hosting girls' soccer tournaments that have focused on raising awareness of the dangers of teenage pregnancy. These tournaments were a great success and were hosted in Maitland, Kensington, Gugulethu, Stellenbosch, George, Hermanus, Malmesbury and Beaufort West with a total of 670 girls participating. Participants also discussed the ways in which they could continue making a contribution towards preventing teenage pregnancies in their own schools and communities and we will be making further announcements on innovative projects before the end of the year.
The Human Right's Directorate also conducted an audit of all the teenage pregnancy programmes being run by provincial departments across the province. The outcomes of this audit will assist our government in ensuring a more coordinated response when it comes to curbing teenage pregnancies in the Western Cape in the future. Finally, the Advocateur for Human Rights in the Department of the Premier, Ms Thandi Mpambo Sibukwana has also attended to a number of ad hoc complaints of human rights violations that were brought to the attention of the Office of the Premier during the past year.
For example, we received a complaint that disabled people were being denied access to RDP houses which has resulted in 14 disabled recipients receiving houses in Lwandle (Strand) and Khayelitsha after these cases were brought to the attention of Provincial Minister of Housing Bongikosi Madikizela.
Improvements to the Ekuphumleni Old Age Home in Gugulethu are also in the pipeline after a complaint was received via SMS from the elderly living at the centre and the Human Rights Advocateur brought the issue to the attention of the Western Cape Department of Social Development.
I have briefly summarised the most significant adjustments in our budget as well as some of our achievements since my Budget Speech in March. These will take us one step closer to achieving what we set out to do when we assumed office just over two and a half years ago.
An efficient government, a government committed to frontline service delivery, a government committed to rooting out corruption. This is the government we are becoming in practice, as well as theory.
I thank you.