SPEECH BY HON. EDMUND VAN VUUREN, MPL, ON THE 2011/12 BUDGET SPEECH OF THE OFFICE OF THE PREMIER

Hon, speaker, Hon Premier, Members of the Executive, and members of this house, as well as guests and officials, allow me to greet you with the respect you deserve.

Hon Speaker, the Office of the Premier is the centre of the provincial government with the responsibility of coordinating departments and provides strategic directions to departments with regards to provincial policy priorities. With reference to the strategic priorities of the province, the OTP is responsible to coordinate the implementation of all eight strategic priorities. However, the following three are directly aligned to the mandate of the Department, namely:

1. Intensifying the fight against crime and corruption;

2. Building a developmental state and improving the public service, and strengthening democratic institutions;

3. Strengthening education, skills and human resource bases.

Hon. Speaker, there are some issues of concern that I would like to allude to:

1. The costs for legal consultants have increased to R1 million, a 45.7% increase compared to the last financial year. Hon. Speaker it will be appreciated if the House could be informed as to the responsibilities of the legal personnel within the Office of the Premier if legal work must be outsourced. Building capacity within the legal section should be prioritized. We as the Democratic Alliance do agree that in certain instances consultants are a necessity, but why pay officials for work that is being done by consultants? Employment of those who are fit-for-purpose will certainly resolve some existing inefficiencies.

2. Hon. Premier, as a committee we discussed the attitudes of officials across all provincial departments at length. As a member of the Democratic Alliance I concur with the unhappiness raised as to the existing culture within the departments. This culture that exists towards work ethic is totally unacceptable. The Democratic Alliance is also of the opinion that a service delivery plan with in all departments should be enhanced and all sections within departments must be targeted. We need a culture change within the corridors of government. Batho Pele is almost non-existent.

3. Hon Premier, I do not know how you are going to influence the mindset of your officials, especially those in education and health. This government is spearheaded by these departments but they have become a liability in court. The government has lost most of its cases in court, resulting in a payment of exorbitant legal fees. Hon. Premier we need to asses our strategies before approaching the courts to adjudicate cases.

4. Hon Premier it has also come to my notice that we have officials within the provincial departments driving across the country and pocketing huge S & T allowances without providing proof of what they have achieved. This I know, Hon. Premier, will also be unacceptable to you.

5. Hon. Speaker it was also alluded to in this House today that there are concerns that certain Heads of Departments have as yet not been vetted as prescribed by the PFMA. It is important that a person’s risk factor should be assessed to determine whether such as person is prone to get involved in acts of fraud and corruption due to dire pressing financial circumstances.

Hon. Premier, I am pleased to say that the Democratic Alliance is happy with the R6.2 billion that has been earmarked for the eradication of mud-structures and for the development of infrastructure backlogs with in the province. This will indeed go a long way in providing quality education to the fast majority of learners within our rural areas. We certainly commend you in your efforts in assisting our learners to achieve their goals. We need, however, to ensure that local building companies and suppliers will benefit from the above fund in order to boost our provincial economy.

Hon. Premier, the department has also made positive strides toward the establishment of the Provincial Planning Commission and we trust its establishment will go a long way towards the effective coordination of planning at all spheres of government within our province.

Hon. Premier, allow me to thank you in assisting a previously disadvantaged learner to enable him to travel aboard to realize a lifelong dream.

The Democratic Alliance support s the committee report.

I thank you.