Tag Archive | presidential

Brief on new draft energy and electricity bills

The director general of the energy department, Nelisiwe Magubane, has now briefed Parliament on the impending tabling of both the National Energy Regulator Amendment Bill and the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill which, according Magubane will beef up NERSA giving it the regulatory power to control “the entire energy space”.

She told the parliamentary committee on energy that that an independent appeal board headed up by a judge would replace the existing tribunal so that NERSA did not have to play both judge and jury in regulatory matters, where a decision on tariffs or regulatory procedures were involved. Appeals would therefore conducted in a fairer environment.

Both bills have been the subject of public comment and it remains to be seen what the final Bills tabled before Parliament look like. On electricity, much involves independent power producers (IPPs) and may sort out the anomalies that exist in the procurement of land for power line erection and the difficult liaison with the department of public works over such issues.

As far as the Energy Regulator Act (ERA) is concerned, the amendments proposed to parliamentarians were stated as being designed to “improve the credibility of the decision making process by establishing an appeals board; to improve the governance and accountability of the board and to improve the working relations amongst regulator members.”

The department of energy said that the energy sector had to be regulated more effectively “given the current need that has now arisen to increase private sector participation”.

Present at the briefing were officials of NERSA who also claimed, as did the department, that both new Bills would enable them to have the ability to work in a less fragmented environment with not so many departments having regulatory control over different issues.

NERSA at no stage discussed matters relating to fuel pricing and neither did the department. Further meetings are to follow.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Trade & Industry0 Comments

New fuel pipeline will come at a cost

Brian Molefe, CEO of Transnet, told his audience at opening of the 550 kilometre multi-product fuel pipeline between Durban and Johannesburg that the cost of the new installation “will have to be recovered”.

In his opinion, the new pipeline “was one of the most cutting-edge and innovative infrastructure investments in the world”, the cost involved being given at R23.4bn at this stage, he said. It is understood that Transnet has applied to NERSA for a further 22% increase in tariff charges for the coming year, according to reports.

Last year’s tariff increase for fuel pumped is understood to have been just short of 60%. January 2012 has seen the new installation working alongside the older pipeline but the new line is only configured for diesel at this stage, with limited pumping facilities along its length.

Coming on top of a recent 43c per litre fuel price increase and the minister’s November call for “an audit” into refinery shortages, both fuel and electricity supply problems would seem to be moving in the same dismal direction leaving government and suppliers further apart.

On an up-beat note, Molefe told his audience that “the state-of-the-art pipeline” would also transport 93 and 95 octane petrol, low sulphur and ultralow sulphur diesel and jet fuel at a rate of “about three-million litres an hour”.  He said that eventually the capacity of the line was expected to be in the region of 26.7-billion litres of fuel a year.

Transnet pipelines head Charl Möller said the new pipeline would be upgraded in five phases up to 2032 as more pumping stations and metering points were added.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

Davies to re-introduce his ailing BEE

Following the gazetting of a draft Broad-Based Black Economic Empowerment Amendment Bill in December 2011 for comment (60 days), trade and industry minister, Rob Davies, has recently indicated his view that the planned  amendments to BBBEE legislation would “seek to strengthen access to procurement opportunities and to assist with black enterprise development.”

He also indicated in his statement that fronting was a practice that had to be eliminated and penalties for non-compliance as far as regulations were concerned would be introduced in the legislation, which included jail sentences. How this would relate to the Liquid Fuels Charter is not clear. . In terms of the draft BBBEE Act Amendment Bill, the cabinet statement set out the proposed amendments, some of which included amendments including the penalties mentioned for non-compliance in terms of enterprise development, or lack of it, fronting and procurement elements not complied with in terms of the BBBEE scorecard.

Definitions of what is termed as fronting are given in order that legislation may apply and the appropriate regulations enforced. On this issue, much was passed on by minister of energy, Dipuo Peters from the energy conference in November 2011.   Minister Davies said that more emphasis was to be placed on enterprise development and procurement within key sectors, in terms of both the IPAP and new growth path plans. Incentives were to be created for broad based black ownership and the use of such tools as employee share ownership, co-operatives and community ownership.

Relevance to the Employment Equity Act was an important factor, Minister Davies said, as was aligning skills requirements to current and new skills development strategies involved in the new growth path and elsewhere. Targets for this, for procurement matters and enterprise development had to be “adjusted” accordingly, he said.

Meanwhile, Minister Dipuo Peters also welcomed the BBBEE legislation as contributing towards the objectives of the liquid fuels charter. Challenges facing her department were irregular monitoring of compliance, pockets of poor performance within the value chain and lack of financially sound BEE deals, she said late last year.

She also added that her department was looking at ways to strengthen liquid fuels strategic stocks to cover any emergencies that might arise.

She advised the media in November the compliance report on the liquid fuels charter had been submitted to the cabinet for approval. At the time, she expressed her view that current shareholding was not spread uniformly across the value chain and total assets spread in line with demographics, noting that whilst technical issues such as access to storage facilities was a significant problem. In general, she complained that the participation of women, procurement and enterprise development lagged behind targets.

She also added that her department was looking at ways to strengthen liquid fuels strategic stocks to cover any emergencies that might arise. Her recent comments on the new BBBEE legislation were made in the light of Minister Davies announcement.

Reference to both BBBEE legislation and the Liquid Fuels Charter is expected to come up in President Zuma’s address to the nation.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Education, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Justice, constitutional, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Security,police,defence, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments

DTI to form multi-billion rand incentives fund

The Minister of Trade and Industry has released the Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Bill for public comment. The SEZ Bill is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this year and Minister of trade and Industry Rob Davies says that in his view it is one of the most important developments of 2012 in order to achieve the objectives of the country’s economic planning programme.

DTI has now briefed the parliamentary trade and industry committee on the concepts behind the proposed legislation. According to the minister, the main objectives of the SEZ bill are:

• for the designation, development, promotion, operation and management of SEZs

• for the establishment of the SEZ board

• to regulate the application and issuing of SEZ operator permits • for the establishment of the SEZ fund

• decentralisation in the economy-broaden location of industrial development

Whilst claiming, as did the minister, that “the country now has a really effective plan to offer the investment community”, Lionel October, DTI’s director general, admitted the exact amount of finance at his department’s disposal to fund new special economic zones (SEZs) in South Africa still remains to be negotiated, although the matter has been agreed to in principle at cabinet level.

Nevertheless, he countered questioning at a parliamentary trade and industry committee presentation on this subject ,by saying that “Whilst we still have to fight a significant battle with Treasury on the size of a multi-billion rand incentives fund, it was significant that the DTI now has a proposal along the lines offered in China, Brazil and India”. (BRICS)

This plan, he said, will be supported by a Bill shortly to be introduced to Parliament and which would provide “the necessary predictability to such financing.”

October said the main problem in the past was that the present IDZs were not driven by incentives.   Only one development had taken place at Richards Bay, for example, he noted.  “Although any business plan must make economic sense as a first priority, we have learnt that any growth plan, as in BRICs countries, must be attached to incentives. “In the past, we were de-incentivising many potential areas just because they did not have a port, for example”.

In the new proposals, said October, the country would move away from very long plans and do what the Chinese have done successfully and focus on five-year plans.  He added that the competitive factor, where IDZs competed with each other, had to be stopped and that a “joint marketing proposal approach” had to be adopted for the whole country.

“This was the purpose of dividing the country into SEZs”, he said, and to build a national team to market the country’s proposals.

In terms of the new Bill, there were to be different categories of SEZs, such as industrial development zones, industrial parks or estates, science and technology parks, spatial development corridors and sector development zones.   October quoted successful examples of SEZs in Shanghai, Oman and Malaysia.

Problems had been encountered, October said, with the previous concept of the smaller IDZs over the past few years and the idea had not worked particularly well. Main problems had been that previously designated areas favoured those with international airport or seaports and penalized other areas for not having such.

The DTI’s contribution into the four areas of Richards Bay, East London, Coega and OR Tambo and Saldanha for forty projects had been 5.3bn or an approximate 5.7% return.

Lionel October emphasised that the IDZ programme had not been incentive driven. There had also been too much emphasis on infrastructure, whilst other issues such as logistics, marketing and skills supply had been on the back-burner.

The IDZ programme had “lacked a unique value proposition”, he said, and too many messages were going out to the investment community. There needed to be a single strategy and message from one place, said October.

He noted that now, with the promise from Treasury in October’s medium term budget that R10bn would be put aside for investment purposes, the new plan, supported by legislation, had become an exciting prospect and the new national regulatory environment would not only give the host zone but the whole region total involvement and the added ability to put in place longer term planning for an entire area.

The new Bill also provided for five parties to be involved in the process; namely, the DTI, Treasury, all three tiers of government, Eskom and Transnet, all parties being involved on a SEZ board set up by the new Bill. Other important parastatals could be added if relevant, October said.

MPs commented that no such plan would work unless government parastatals were on board to help plan infrastructure needed.

When asked by an ANC MP why labour was not represented in the planning structures, Lionel October responded frankly by saying that such a planning process could not be subjected to the issue of collective labour bargaining at that stage of the investment process, although the supply of skilled labour was a major issue.

He detailed the financing instruments as a fund to be established by the minister of trade and industry in consultation with the ministry of finance and development finance institutions (DFIs), which would play a major role in the development of a particular SEZ, liaising on marketing, capacity development, skills strategies, infrastructure, business incubation, environmental protection, technology and R&D and, finally, quality and productivity.

He would not talk on the subject of specific incentive numbers, saying that incentives had always been granted in the past but that in the future any incentives and incentive programmes would be the subject of far more focus with proper funding to make more things possible.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Communications, Education, Electricity, Energy, Finance, economic, Fuel,oil,renewables, Health, Labour, Land,Agriculture, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry, Transport0 Comments


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