9 July 2014

South Africa: Committee Calls for Accelerated Economic Growth

The Select Committee on Economic and Business Development, in its first maiden meeting following the 2014 national elections, was requested to approve a budget allocation of R697 million by the Economic Development Department (EDD).

Briefing the Committee, Deputy Minister in the EDD Mr Madala Masuku said: "We are asking the National Council of Provinces to approve the budget of which R534 million will be allocated to the various agencies that report to the department and R163 million is for departmental projects."

Mr Masuku said since the establishment of the department in 2009, policies that will help the country move forward have been developed to ensure continued economic growth.

Chairperson of the Committee, Mr Litho Suka, said: "The presentation seems to be lacking and silent on timeframes, those are not coming out strongly. What you say will be tested on the ground when we do our oversight work in the provinces and municipalities and we will benchmark the department based on the documents and reports presented before the Committee.

"We request the department to give us projects that relate to our provinces so that when we do oversight work we give a proper feedback, to see that progress is being made. We must evaluate your projects based on what we receive from the meetings. The document does not go into detail on province by province. We come from different provinces," said Mr Litho.

"Once you give the details of the projects per province, we are therefore able to assess the extent of job creation in the provinces. We do not get the sense of job creation based on the presentation that has been delivered," added Mr Litho.

Members of the Committee expressed concern about the role the department is playing in providing efficient oversight in its coordinating function on the various projects and programmes. Mr Fana Mokoena, a Committee member, said the briefing document failed to go into detail regarding Free State's key performance indicators.

"We are failing to diversify in the mining towns, to have secondary plans for these towns. As the mining towns die there are no other plans to keep the towns going. This is a big problem," he said.

Ms Elza van Lingen, also a Committee member, said: "I sat with great expectation and was looking for details and I cannot see what will happen in our provinces. I have to concur with my colleagues, we have not seen any of the targets. There is no progress in Coega, in the Buffalo Metro and the dam being built in the Eastern Cape - therefore we cannot do oversight."

Ms Lingen also criticised the department, saying it allocated R534 million to agencies, therefore making the department "the headmaster of the agencies".

The Committee called on the department not to be silent on agriculture as rural communities are dependent on agriculture. Members of the Committee, in their concluding remarks, emphasised the fact that the economy must create jobs as the country is facing a high unemployment rate.

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