Archive | Special Recent Posts

Competition Commission turns to LP gas market

Focus may be on LP gas allocations….

LP gasThe Competition Commission has announced that it will conduct a market inquiry into the state of competition in the LP gas sector.    Public comment is invited from those in the liquified gas petroleum (LPG) sector and the Commission has said that such an inquiry is being initiated because it has reason to believe that there may be features of the sector that prevent, distort or restrict competition.

In its announcement the Commission specifically draws attention to the fact there are six refineries in the country, namely – Sapref, Sasol Synfuels, PetroSA Synfuels, Natref, Enref and Chevref.

Of these, the Commission says, “Only two allocate a certain proportion of their total LPG supply to wholesalers, which may have an impact on competitive dynamics in the downstream wholesale market.”

Value chain additions

The Commission’s inquiries will also extend, they say, to these LPG wholesalers who act as middlemen, or brokers as referred to by the petroleum and gas industry, who “play” the market with allocations from manufacturers.

“Due to the shortages in LPG supply, these firms may have an impact on competitive dynamics at the wholesale level of the market. This impact will be explored during the market inquiry,” the announcement said.

Public participation

The Commission concluded that it would hold public hearings and hoped that “business enterprises along the LPG value chain, other related business enterprises, end-users, government departments, public entities, regulatory authorities, industry associations and any other stakeholders” would assist with their inquiry.

Other articles in this category or as background

  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//communications/gas-act-changes-closer-to-implementation/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/doe-talks-biofuels-and-biomass/
  • http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/competition-commission-promises-health-care-inquiry/

Posted in Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Informal settlements: lack of progress queried

 

Minister has catch-up job on settlements…

IY2With a budget of nearly R31bn to be spent this year on human settlements issues  to improve the lives of South Africans in the area of housing and more recently sanitation, the department of human settlements (DHS) says it has to come to grips urgently with the situation regarding informal townships in South Africa.

This is according to parliament’s own research team when briefing the new portfolio committee on human settlements on the housing backlog under its new ANC chairperson, Ms Macwene Semenya.

The briefing also touched on government’s plan to achieve eradication of sanitation backlogs by 2014, set at one year prior to the target specified by the UN’s millennium development goals.

Good track record

These and other major problems add to the catch-up pressure upon the new minister of human settlements, Connie September, who has a long-standing relationship with Parliament serving in the past on the trade and industry, water and joint rules portfolio committees and who has played an important role in the development of COSATU.

The portfolio committee was told that DHS worked to a difficult framework in terms of various policies, constitutional and legislative aspects, to assist and enable municipalities to manage housing developments within their areas of jurisdiction.

DHS does not build houses as many assume, they said, but attends to the finance in terms of appropriations transferred to 250 municipalities through provincial government on an accredited basis to make this happen, parliamentarians were told.

Finance for municipalities

Within three years of finance being received from DHS in terms of the Municipal Finance Management Act (MFMA), each municipality has to plan, implement and maintain housing in the terms of a national integrated plan but first the municipality plans had to be perused and accredited by DHS in order to receive funding.

This is a complex process that needs long-term projects, major reforms and needing a strong political will, the committee was told.   It is here that DHS is experiencing its main problems, or “challenges” as put by the parliamentary briefing expert, Leepo Tsoai.

The Financial and Fiscal Commission (FFC) was reported as having noted in a report which went to the cabinet that the increases in the human settlements budget are not linked to increases in delivery on the ground, a fact which had been the responsibility of the outgoing minister.

Not straightforward

The FFC had also noted that the effectiveness of the many human settlements grants to municipalities, over and above standard appropriations, were diverse and “segmented” and there was a serious need for “alignment and sequencing”.

Also the Auditor General, although having given an unqualified report on DHS for the 2012/3 figures and again for this year, a note was added by the AG that the vacancy rate on professional and skilled staff within the department is far too high, indicating a large vacuum where it is most needed despite funds being available.   Also far too many staff were “acting”, reported the AG, indicating that their posts remained unsubstantiated.

Lack of skilled staff was therefore one of the main reasons, said the parliamentary profiler, for the slow rate of approvals aside from the lack of skills at provincial level.

Nevertheless, the current target for DHS remained to accelerate the delivery of household opportunities and upgrading of 400 000 households in informal settlements so that there was access to secure tenure and basic services.

Back to finance problems

In this regard, DHS was also responsible for a subsidy programme for households unable to find mortgage finance or should their monthly income exceed the maximum income limit for a government free basic house.

It was noted in the parliamentary briefing, however, that many strides in terms of accelerating access to water and on sanitation matters had been made, with some 3m South Africans gaining access to adequate sanitation services since 1994, although 2.2m were still without water, bringing SA close to non-alignment with UN goals.

Also it was noted that DHS also had a target to establish a mortgage insurance guarantee scheme to deliver 600 000 housing finance opportunities.

Committee members were briefed on the two Bills passed last year; the Sectional Titles Schemes Management Bill and the Community Scheme Ombud Service Bill – the Rental Housing Amendment Bill being withdrawn but now re-introduced. In the pipeline were the Consumer Protection Measures Bill and Housing Development Property Bill.

Backlog title deeds

Insofar as the previous government was concerned, the legacy report of the last committee was reviewed which had asked for a total review of DHS funding models on projects and programmes and a way of regulating for the registration and issuing of title deeds for state subsidised houses.

Also, the legacy report stated, there was a major problem on the issue of “backyard dwellers” in urban areas to be dealt with.

As far as budget allocations were concerned the briefing showed that budget for 2013/14 was R20.2 billion, increasing in 2014/15 to R30.5 billion, with projected increases thereafter to R32.8 billion in 2015/16 and R34.4 billion in 2016/17.

At the end of the last financial year, DHS administration had under-spent 74% of budget at the end of the financial year, a major factor contributing to this the inability to fill senior management posts with the right qualifications.

At the time of this report, the committee was awaiting the annual strategy report from DHS prior to the budget vote.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//justice-constitutional/spatial-planning-bill-ends-long-journey-in-the-parliament/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//human-settlements/sexwale-details-new-housing-loans-programme/

Posted in Facebook and Twitter, human settlements, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts0 Comments

NHI to focus on better nursing, says DoH

Pilot NHI facilities to get IT systems

amotsoalediAn impassioned plea in Parliament by minister of health, Aaron Motsoaledi, when presenting the strategy and annual performance plan of the department health (DoH), that nursing in South Africa should return to “the old days” was received well across party lines during a meeting of the portfolio committee on health.

He said he did not like the current system whereby nurses were trained at university, gaining all their four coloured bars in one learning process before gaining practical experience in the various disciplines. What is going to happen he said, is to encourage a heightened understanding of patient care with more bedside experience during training, This led to a round of vocal support from all parliamentarians in the newly elected committee.

Practical qualifications

Dr Motsoaledi said that many nurses with four bars on their shoulder-tabs often had less practical nursing experience than some who only had one bar, meaning that less experience in the real basics of proper nursing care was becoming prevalent.

Change was now being instituted whereby each specialist phase in knowledge attainment would be coupled with a period of field training experience to gain a bar in order to return nursing to proper holistic care principles. Nursing training was to be returned to a seven year period to incorporate periods of field experience, rather than the current crash course system of four years.

He said to MPs that it was “very difficult to send a new highly qualified nurse on bedpan duties for her first duty.”   He received a strong endorsement of the new approach from a cross spectrum of all members. He told parliamentarians that five public nursing colleges would be accredited to offer nursing qualifications under a new system in 2014/5.

NHI will meet world standards

heathpatientDr Motsoaledi detailed all eight strategic goals of DoH and referred immediately to the national health scheme, the implementation of which he said was not “if” but “when”. South Africa’s NHI would meet international standards and use internationally accepted regulations, he said, but he did not answer directly a member’s question on a date when the pilot would end.

However, he expanded on the fact that the current NHI project, a project which involves 700 public health facilities, would be the subject of new patient registration systems with IT backup and electronic health care data collection.   The revised administration systems would reduce patient waiting time, he said, and in addition a mobile phone data collection and communication system was to be introduced.

He also said it was the intention of DoH to have a functional national pricing commission in place by 2017 in order to regulate health care in the private sector.   DoH would again revise methodology and also legislate for the determination of pharmaceutical dispensing fees.

Dr Motsoaledi told the committee that an Institute of Regulatory Sciences was to be introduced and regulations for the function of an Office of Health Standards Compliance to prescribe norms and standards brought into being.

He was adamant that nearly 4,000 primary health care facilities with functional committees and district hospital boards would be in place by 2018/9 and said that 75% of all primary health care clinics in the 52 health districts would qualify for the international terminology of “ideal” by the same date.

Standards

This involved a clinic or facility passing a test based on a regimen of some 180 standards, from infection control to waiting room facilities.   He was candid enough to say that a major issue was now to control a leaning by both municipalities and local government to build new infrastructure to meet patient demand and NDP targets, rather than maintain and improve existing services which had exactly the same result.

He also wanted to see standards developed countrywide on building costs per square metre since, he complained, a building going up in one province can vary by 100% from another province.   He said DoH had little power to influence the activities of health MECs and wanted to see a list created of “non negotiable items” so that some DoH control could be exercised over municipal budgets and spend.

Overview

His discussion with parliamentarians and his briefing for new MPs roamed over a wide range of health subjects, from female contraception and cancer screening to child health and on the issue of HIV/AIDS, he focused on the need to encourage breast feeding at the expense of formula feeding.    He complained that breast feeding was as low as 8% nationally and wanted to see more, even amongst HIV positive mothers.  He gave outcome figures to support his view.

Dr Motsoaledi spent some time detailing the moves by DoH to introduce more emphasis on preventative health care and education by going to the root of the problem rather than chasing curative health targets, stating that education towards better diets had to become a part of an SA way of life.

He said that for each person who died in South Africa, eight were in hospital and that preventive health care education starting nationally at school age was the only way in his view to reduce poor health in a substantial manner.    A post of an advisor to the deputy minister of health was to be established on this subject and a White Paper on affordable heath care produced.

HIV/AIDS

red_aids_ribbon_hi-resOn the subject of HIV/AIDS, he repeated the statement which he said he had made on a number of occasions to the effect that children born to HIV positive mothers should, by law, be tested for mother-to-child transfer of the disease.   This should happen if child mortality in South Africa was to be tackled successfully, he added.   He did not discuss the constitutional issues involved.

He said the total number of people remaining on ARVs was targeted by DoH at 5.1m for the end of 2018/9, the current figure for 2014/5 being 3m. He added that some 2.4m were currently on the regimen.    DoH targets for HIV tests among the population aged between 15-19 years are targeted at 10m annually, he advised.

TB

On TB control programmes, Dr Motsoaledi said a 79% treatment would be reached for 2014/5 and this was to be targeted at 85% by 2018/9.   The TB defaulter rate was 6% presently and this was to be reduced to 5% over the same period.    He advised that there were over 400,000 TB cases recorded in correctional service facilities and a focus was now to give inmates the correct kind of increased TB and HIV diagnosis and better treatment services.

He emphasised that DoH had to ensure regular TB prevention, screening and treatment carried out by mines by enforcement of compliance regulations for approximately 600,000 miners and employees of associated industries.    He said that DoH was to “heighten” diagnosis and treatment of TB in peri-mining communities “in six districts with a high concentration of mines using DoH TB and HIV mobile units”.

Dr Motsoaledi continued that life expectancy of South Africans had to be raised by 2030 to 70 years, at present being dragged down by HIV/AIDS and TB into the ‘fifties, after having reached 60% at one point recently.

In general, however, there were more people living as well as more people living longer.   The cure rate in Western Cape and Gauteng had now reached 81% but it was slower in other areas, averaging at 74% for the country.    The national target was an 85% cure rate.

Preventable health care

However, on non-communicable diseases, Dr Motsoaledi said that the rise in hypertension numbers was “explosive” and high blood pressure problems were therefore very much part of the preventative health care plan.    5m people were targeted for counsel and screening for high blood pressure in the next four years and a further 5m for raised glucose levels.

Obesity was also a major problem and this was targeted to be reduced by 55% for women and 21% for men in the next four years. This was currently being started with school programmes. There was also a DoH programme in place reduce injury through, accidents and violence by 50% from the high levels of 2010.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//health/health-dept-winning-on-hiv-aids-therapy-and-tb/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/competition-commission-promises-health-care-inquiry/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/state-acknowledges-responsibility-to-increase-health-staff/

Posted in Facebook and Twitter, Health, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts0 Comments

Small business gets R1bn incentive scheme

Tax relief and business incentives

The new small business development department (SBDD) has transferred from the department of trade and industry (DTI) the R1bn fund which covers both corporate incentives to develop small business and the Small  Enterprise Finance Agency (SEFA).

However, it will leave with DTI all matters relating to B-BBEE insofar as regulations are concerned.  Both the new minister, Lindiwe Zulu, and deputy minister, Elizabeth Thabethe, were present for a short departmental briefing by SBDD given to the new small business portfolio committee chaired by Ruth Bengu, who in the last parliamentary period served as chair of the transport committee.

Revised thinking

In an earlier portfolio committee meeting of trade and industry, a few days before under their chair, experienced ANC member Joan Fubbs, DTI had called for a rethink on small business policy.

They said they wanted to see a clearer policy on the SMME support role by national government with provincial and local government and to establish a programme for rolling out more small business “incubators”- something that opposition parties had been calling for over a long period of time.

Also DTI supported the call to review the small claims court system so that access to affordable justice was more affordable. They wanted this to be a further target of the new department.

Such recommendations came amidst a foray of criticism by commentators that the new department could become a diversion for unsolvable small business issues or alternatively the new department could become merely a point for start-up small business without any real muscle.

Less red tape

The new department in addressing MPs confirmed to them that its mandate was to focus on “enhanced business support” and they emphasised their support for women, people with disabilities and to provide mechanisms to access finance, business skills development.  They also said they were there to ease regulatory conditions; to help regulate better the SMME environment and to give leverage on public procurement.

It was important to recognise, SBDD said, that it was also there to encourage the development of cooperative entities, in which instance shareholders themselves were the members and entrepreneurs. Finally, the process of creating market access was an important task, they added. Nothing was new here.

But opposition ears pricked up when they said tax relief grants to corporates that invested in small business development were to be considered and incubation programmes and technology upliftment were priorities.  The immediate future, however, was all about configuring the new department; the “migration” of responsibilities from DTI; and transferring allocations for the establishment of support institutions.

Chair of the committee, Ruth Bhengu – previously chair of the parliamentary transport committee – then called for response from opposition members which mainly came from Toby Chance of the DA, whose questions were answered by both by the new minister and deputy minister.

Jobs or not

Chance said that whilst applauding the formation of this department, he wanted to know whether or not any success was to be measured in terms of jobs created,  which to him was the bottom line, he said. Also he wanted a clearer definition of what government actually meant by the term “small business”.

He said there were plenty of “gleaming new supermarkets in our townships but very little industrial developments, in fact some industrial parks were in a state of decay.” Chance said the DA was also worried that the impact of new labour legislation and labour regulations was immobilising small business and the amount of red tape currently being experienced was becoming “out of hand”.

Chance said he hoped the new department recognised the fact that that corporates and industry should focus on the development of small businesses to create the job growth called for by the NDP.   Partnerships with small business were the best way of achieving this, he noted.  He concluded that all “tax incentives should be re-visited” and that more emphasis should be laid on small manufacturing businesses.

In reply, minister Lindiwe Zulu agreed on the issue of red tape as a hindrance to small business and said her objective was to become like Rwanda where direct contact with national bodies that supported initiatives was far easier.

Compliance for all

However, she said that business had to understand that it had a role to play and a “culture of compliance” had to be encouraged in both small and large business and manufacturers or there would be anarchy.   Also large businesses and the state will have pay small business invoices on thirty days or risk penalties.

The minister said on the subject of labour regulations, dept of labour had its own targets and own agenda on decent work conditions and that was a separate issue. “The job of small business development was to work inside current conditions and for business to respect that.”

Chance replied that the governing party seemed to have “developed a track record of “attacking business persons when they criticised ANC economic policies or asked tough questions”, which statement prompted vehement denials from the minister and deputy minister.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//trade-industry/licensing-of-businesses-bill-re-emerges/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//bee/minister-davies-gets-cooperatives-bill-approved/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//parlyreport-contacts/cabinet-ministers/ministry-small-business-development/

Posted in Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Gas Utilisation Master Plan gets things going

Gas a “game changer” in energy mix…

gas pipelineWith the publication for comment of the Gas Utilisation Master Plan (Gump) by the department of energy (DoE), South Africa came a step further towards the finalisation of its Integrated Energy Plan (IEP), meaning also that the document has received approval by the cabinet.

The document, based on a Green Paper released by DOE some years ago, provides a framework for investment in gas-supporting infrastructure and outlines the role that gas could conceivably play in the electricity, transport, domestic, commercial and industrial sectors.

LNG and gas, offshore -onshore

The Gump outlines, amongst other issues,  the import of liquified natural gas (LNG) and piped gas from Namibia and Mozambique and plans for production of natural and shale gas in South Africa.  A plan to have 67 GW of installed gas generation by 2050 is considered by the paper.
The plan is particularly relevant at the moment with Eskom having to rely, as grid backup during the current winter, on expensive diesel-fueled open-cycle gas turbines. The Gump proposals on electricity generation, talk of conversion to closed-cycle turbine power using gas.

The paper also expands on importing electricity from gas sourced from Mozambique and Namibia with lines to the Eskom system grid including imports from the largest present and mainly undeveloped gas fields in Tanzania neighbouring the northern Mozambique fields.

Learning curve

New minister of energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, will have deepen her knowledge base very quickly on such matters as the IEP, energy resources and liquid fuels plans, all urgent and with immediacy.   Such issues as the process of energy integration overall and the issue of the stalled independent power producers (IPP) programme in terms of the held-over Independent System Market Operators (ISMO) Bill, are also waiting for position on the energy starting track.

DoE has also pointed to its intended coal gas programme with an IPP programme for the generation of some 6,500MW of power. The department further states that the Gump takes a 30-year view of the industry. It not only deals, they say, with the regulatory environment and economic predictions but does touch on social issues and environmental matters as well.

The master plan also talks of a gas line from Mozambique to Gauteng via Richards Bay and how gas will be distributed and stored, together with the issue of LNG terminal storage.

As a separate issue to Gump but part of the same overall plan, DOE has also released public comment the issue of investment by private merchants in fuel and gas storage, particularly referring to Saldanha Bay.

Storage, a vexed issue

Fuel storage at the present moment is traditionally undertaken by the major oil companies, in some cases integrated with state facilities and who can more easily absorb some of the more riskier aspects of this sector with their vertical interests both upstream and downstream.

DoE sees a greater contribution from investment by private merchants in storage and is currently attempting to re-structure the system to attract and build the industry to counter present storage problems and for early consideration as part of South Africa’s strategic fuels plan and as part of a licensing and regulation background.

In the short term, DoE says in its Gump programme, such a system is needed in terms of LNG holding reserves, imported as LNG or from state owned PetroSA’s gas-to-liquids plant at Mossel Bay, until more natural gas comes down the envisaged pipelines from the current exploration areas.

At the moment Sasol pipes 188-million gigajoules a year of gas into South Africa from Mozambique.  The possibility of LNG re-gasification plants offshore on the West coast in the near future is also debated in the Gump programme released.

Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/parliament-re-starts-oilsea-gas-debate/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/shale-gas-exploration-gets-underway/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/oil-and-gas-industry-criticizes-minerals-petroleum-bill/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/future-clearer-as-gas-amendment-bill/

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Facebook and Twitter, Fuel,oil,renewables, LinkedIn, Public utilities, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

SA to get coastal management underway

Coastal management includes cities and rural areas …

South Africa’s National Coastal Management Programme (NCMP) is now underway with the publication of working proposals by the department of environmental affairs (DEA) which was accompanied by a call for public comment.

The estimated contribution of coastal resources to the South African economy is in the order of some R5bn and coastal zones, the document says, are estimated to provide approximately 35% of the country’s GDP.   The major coastal cities of Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, East London, Durban, and Richards Bay are affected, all four having experienced the fastest economic growth of all cities in the country.

Preservation and good management of the national coastal areas, says DEAT, is therefore essential if South Africa is to continue to provide the roots for economic development, expansion of the tourism industry and the continued provision of recreational needs.   All these factors are created in areas with a very delicate balance of biodiversity, says DEAT.

Economic reasons

Maintaining this balance into future generations is seen by DEAT as one of its major challenges, not only for environmental reasons but for economic reasons as well. A further important objective of the NCMP is to maintain the coastal environment to the benefit of threatened poorer communities and to protect their livelihoods.
DEAT says in its forward to the NCMP that South Africa has chosen to embrace a holistic approach, known as integrated coastal management (ICM), which sets out objectives, management procedures and contains the kind of definitions, norms and standards that enable a basic environmental regulatory process to happen.

The purpose of the anchor ICM Act is to maximize on the eco-benefits provided by coastal zones and to minimize the conflicts and harmful effects of human activities upon each other, both in terms of resources that could be lost and any surrounding environmental damage.

Pointers only

The NCMP, DEAT says, is a working document to assist in implementing ICM objectives and lays out in its 106 pages a deliberate programme of national management actions. It is not regulatory but a working guide.

First, it contains a detailed situation analysis related to coastal management in South Africa across the full spectrum of zones within the country’s 3,000 kms of coastline. Then the document looks at the current threats to ecosystems followed by a study of existing localised and national environmental management programmes.

In providing a “national vision”, the NCMP provides a structured approach to engage with the stakeholders, DEAT says, and “a template for future cooperative governance”.   It also suggests ways to integrate ICM programmes with localised government, the NCMP therefore expanding with practical programmes based on the ICM Act.

However, DEAT makes it clear in a disclaimer that what is published is neither an amending Bill nor a legal or regulatory process but a guide to programmes which are seen by DEAT as the route to take and which can be necessary in the common interest.

Complimentary to NEMA

To emphasise the co-operative nature of what is put forward, DEAT says in the frontispiece to the NCMP, “This document does not in any way have legal authority or take precedence over the National Environmental Management: Integrated Coastal Management Act but rather serves as a guideline to the development of coastal management programmes, expanding on the provisions of the Act”.

Public input on this plan is therefore called for by DEAT. Comment can be made until the end of June.

Concurrently, DEAT has also published its White Paper on National Management of the Ocean, the acronym for which is appropriately NEMO.

This, DEAT says, aims to promote the protection and conservation of South Africa’s ocean environment, as well as promoting sustainable development for present and future generations. It refers in its pages to the extent of South Africa’s ocean environment and deals with issues concerning protection and conservation of the ocean environment and resources of the sea.

The White Paper says the department’s approach to the subject will promote and expand sustainable development and optimise investment in managing the large ocean space which is accessible to the country.
Other articles in this category or as background
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//energy/fueloilrenewables/coastal-management-bill-stirs-waters/
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//health/coastal-environment-proposals-getting-clearer/

Posted in Enviro,Water, Facebook and Twitter, Health, Land,Agriculture, LinkedIn, Special Recent Posts, Trade & Industry0 Comments

This website is Archival

If you want your publications as they come from Parliament please contact ParlyReportSA directly. All information on this site is posted two weeks after client alert reports sent out.

Upcoming Articles

  1. PetroSA, Central Energy Fund mess gets far worse
  2. New Cybercrime Bill: Business must have a battle plan
  3. PIC Bill passage indicates sleight of hand by governing party
  4. New tax avoidance Bill to stem flow of illicit funds
  5. White Paper sees more Home Affairs security meddling
  6. Climate legislation Bill links on carbon tax
  7. The Fifth Parliament ends

Earlier Editorials

Earlier Stories