Speech by Hon Elliot Sogoni in the National Assembly on the 2nd Reading Debate on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill

15 November 2011

Hon Speaker
Honourable members

The African National Congress welcomes the tabling of the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill-17-2011 as required by Section 12(4) of Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, Act 9 of 2009. This Bill is tabled in the context of challenging world economic outlook which continues to perform below par since 2008. On the other hand South Africa faced with the daunting task of addressing inequalities, unemployment and underdevelopment; effective distributive strategies have been adopted.

Despite these huge challenges South Africa has made considerable advances in its quest for attaining quality life for all its citizens including the poor. Ours is a caring government if u look at the tools of interventions that government employs, for example, quick response by making provision of funds for repairing damaged infrastructure from housing, to roads, schools, clinics, farms and the number of people who are receiving welfare grants.

The Bill makes provision for additional funds for "higher than budgeted wage agreements" across provinces. We must applaud the resources made available for FET colleges` staff so that their posts become permanent posts, thus ensuring FETs deliver on their mandate. Also welcomed is the termination or breaking up of the Infrastructure Grant Provinces, to stand alone Education Infrastructure Grant, Health Infrastructure Grant, Roads and Transport and Agriculture Infrastructure Grants including the allocation of R700 million for schools backlogs. This grant grows to R51billion over METF so that mud schools and dangerous schools will become thing of the past.

R73 billion is budgeted for EPWP over MTEF to create "short and longer term jobs". Lot of monitoring is required in this grant to ensure that there is value for money there. This grant continues to spend slowly especially in the provinces, except for KZN. Portfolio Committee of Public Works and Standing Committee on Appropriations carried separate oversight visits to KZN in order to learn the best practice. In short we found that in KZN the EPWP item is a standing item on the agenda of the provincial cabinet and therefore departments are required to report progress of job creation. If all other eight provinces could adopt this approach, the expenditure will improve tremendously. The National Public Works Department should also look at the design of the programme. Again we have requested National Treasury and National Public Works Department to look at the design for various categories of municipalities in order to improve productivity at that level.

Though government has introduced infrastructure delivery improvement programme (IDIP), where technical advisers are deployed to assist with building a "skills base that enables infrastructure units to overcome blockages to protect implementation", the reality of the matter is that there is room for improvement in infrastructure delivery for education and health facilities. The Division of Revenue Act requires any department that is supposed to undertake any infrastructure project to submit a plan as early as August of the previous year for implementation for the following financial year, challenges continue as evidenced in the latest Performance Report of the Auditor General.

The 10 point plan of the Dept of Health identifies infrastructure as one of the areas that need improvement if the NHI has to succeed. The Department has already established a Norms and standards Directorate and Infrastructure office, so it is set to improve but it will require support of this House, especially when dealing with the pilot sites of NHI. The question is not whether to introduce NHI but how do we ensure that it succeeds. Our people need access to quality health services.

Parliament must "commend government for shifting the composition of spending to support higher levels of infrastructure maintenance and capital expenditure, as such investment will promote economic growth and job creation, and support an enabling environment for further investment by private sector".

The ANC supports the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill as introduced by the Minister.

I Thank You