SPEECHES: Budget Vote Speech by the Deputy Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga, MP, Debate on Vote 10 – Public Service and Administration, E249 Chamber, Parliament, Cape Town

Date: 11 Jul 2019

Honourable House Chairperson;

Minister for the Public Service and Administration, Hon. Senzo Mchunu;

Ministers and Deputy Ministers;

Honourable Members of Parliament, in particular the Chairperson and Members of the Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration;

Our Esteem guests;

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Fellow South Africans;

INTRODUCTION

Honourable House Chairperson;

Our very own National Development Plan, Vision 2030, says and I quote; “Government begins in the home, grows into the community, expands towards the city, flares toward the province, and engulfs the entire land.” Close quote

This statement holds true as we are a Government that Put People First, so as to rectify the inequalities in the distribution of services. It is a right of every South African citizen to be treated with respect, dignity and to receive excellent service from every department and institutions of government.

The Honourable Minister Senzo Mchunu, has just elaborated on the priorities we would be implementing and I will be reflecting on other entities that support the work of the department. These are:

    • the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS);

    • the National School of Government (NSG);

    • the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPS I); and

    • the Government Employees Medical Scheme (GEMS).

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE HOUSING SCHEME (GEHS)

Honourable Members:

Delivering the State of the Nation Address, President Ramaphosa stated that, and I quote:

“While we have made great progress in providing housing, many South Africans still need land to build homes and earn livelihoods.
In the next five years, we will accelerate the provision of well-located housing and land to poor South Africans.”
(close quote)

The challenge of home-ownership which is faced by many South Africans is a hardship that also faces many Public Servants, who are still confronted with difficulties of owning homes of their own. In line with the Batho Pele Principle of Access, we are working together with organised labour through the Housing Scheme to address this ordeal. Measures that are being implemented include amongst others;

    • The provision of housing allowance for the purpose of home ownership, with those renting being assisted to save towards home ownership;

    • Supporting, educating and advising employees on housing options; and

    • Assisting employees to access affordable home loans and housing products.

The 2015 agreement at the Public Service Coordinating Bargaining Council (PSCBC) between Government and organised labour established a Housing Scheme, for approximately 1.3 million government employees.

As at 30 June 2019, the Government Employees Housing Scheme (GEHS) has significantly increased the number of employees utilising the housing allowance for home ownership. For instance in 2015 there were 355 000 eligible Public Servants using the housing allowance for home ownership. In 2019 the number has increased to 653 099. The number of those renting has been reduced from 569 000 in 2015 to 289 088 in 2019. This is an investment that call for appreciation.

GEHS BUDGET AND TARGETS FOR 2019/20 FINANCIAL YEAR

In 2018, a total amount of R4.5 billion was saved through the Individual-linked Savings Facility by Public Servants who are rental accommodation.

This amount has grown to R7.2 billion as at 31 May 2019. The Housing Scheme will be looking into ways on how to utilise this financial muscle to bring more benefits to Public Servants.

We are also reviewing our product offering. We have taken a stance that financial institutions that would like to partner with us in providing home loans should be prepared to offer affordable interest rates at prime-minus against the strength of employees’ payroll deductions. We know that this may be a tough call to those used to the status quo, but we will insist for the benefit of our Public Servants.

We will also explore solutions that address Public Servants’ indebtedness which is currently a major hindrance towards home-ownership. We will continue with outreach campaigns to popularise the Scheme to employees. A training manual is currently being developed and will be finalised in this financial year. The aim of the manual is to educate Human Resource units in government departments that are charged with the responsibility of assisting employees to access housing services and benefits.

NATIONAL SCHOOL OF GOVERNMENT (NSG)

Honourable House Chairperson:

One of the seven Priorities of the Sixth Administration is to focus on Education, Skills and Health. The future requires a State that is capable of playing a developmental and transformative role, with skilled public servants who, in line with the Batho Pele Principle of Information, are knowledgeable about the services they have to deliver to our citizens. And this is also the core mandate of the National School of Government (NSG).

TARGETS FOR NSG IN 2019/20 FINANCIAL YEAR

The School will be rolling out training and development opportunities through a suite of 129 courses and programmes, targeting all salary levels in the Public Service.

For 2019/20 financial year, the School will target to train a total of 53 283 learners in the four broad training streams of: Leadership, Management, Administration and Induction. We are positive to achieve this target.

In the 2019/20 financial year, the School plans to train 3 000 unemployed graduates and interns through the Breaking Barriers to Entry into the Public Service Programme. This Programme is being revamped to support the Formal Graduate Recruitment Scheme (GRS) in the Public Service.

Honourable Members:

To ensure the capacitation of Senior Management Services (SMS), the NSG introduced a compulsory induction programme called the Executive Induction Programme (EIP) to all newly appointed Deputy Directors-General and Directors-General. The EIP included coaching by qualified and professional coaches and mentoring by experts. This Executive Induction Programme is critical in the current dispensation of Macro National Organizing of Government.

NSG BUDGET FOR 2019/20 FINANCIAL YEAR

For 2019/20, the budget allocation is R189 million. Included in the allocation for this year, is an amount of R10 million ring-fenced for the roll-out of the mandatory courses. The School has projected to generate revenue to the amount of R143 million to augment the Training Trading Account.

The School will continue to collaborate and foster partnerships with both public and private sector training institutions, domestically and internationally.

In 2019/20, we will be looking into the overall functioning of the NSG in order to align its mandate and product offerings to the Sixth Administration priorities.

CENTRE FOR PUBLIC SERVICE INNOVATION

Ladies and gentlemen:

The Centre for Public Service and Innovation (CPSI) is uniquely positioned to spearhead innovation across the Public Service in order to promote the Batho Pele Principle of Value for Money.

An innovative and fourth Industrial Revolution Ready Public Service recognises its Trailblazers, those young public servants who use their coding and data analytics skills to develop in-house solutions instead of procuring off-the-shelf solutions that barely work.

Following the very successful first Public Sector Hackathon, Ignite-Hack, hosted by the Ministry for the Public Service and Administration in 2018, the Centre has identified three potential solutions developed by teams of young coders.

These include, just to mention one of the three solutions, Vul’Amanzi, a point-of-use water filtering solution using low-cost cutting edge materials to filter water, this has been successfully replicated in Limpopo Province.

Solutions such as Vul’amanzi are critical to safeguard our people against water-borne disease where potable water is not yet available.

We will further engage the National Treasury to mainstream such innovations in all spheres of government. A 4IR-ready Public Service requires funding mechanisms that would enable us to develop new solutions, many still in conceptual stages, to address some of our most persisting challenges.

Going forward, as the Ministry, we will be looking at means and ways of harnessing the research and development of the Centre for Public Service Innovation (CPSI).

In partnership with the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP), the Centre is strengthening government’s Foresight capacity by working closely with a number of government departments, to plan for resilience, adaptability and agility.

The Centre has been allocated a budget of Thirty Eight million, Four Hundred and Thirty seven Thousands Rands (R38 437 000) for the 2019/20 financial year.

GOVERNMENT EMPLOYEE MEDICAL SCHEME (GEMS)

House Chairperson;

In carrying out the legislative responsibility in terms of the health and wellness of employees in the Public Service as well as the Batho Pele Value Statement of We Belong, We Care, We Serve, government established a Government Employees Medical Aid Scheme.

The Scheme emphasises prevention, screening and testing initiatives as an integral part of primary healthcare.

GEMS, which had 705 192 principal members registered as at 31 December 2018, covers over 1.839 million beneficiaries. This makes the Scheme the second largest medical scheme in the country and the largest restricted medical scheme.

Honourable Members:

To sustain affordability of GEMS, the Board approved an average weighed GEMS contribution increase of 7.09% for 2019. This was one of the lowest in the medical schemes industry for the year.

In addition, additional benefits for 2019 valued at R832 million were given back to members in the form of more benefits concentrating mainly on the vulnerable groups mentioned in the National Health Insurance White Paper.

Furthermore, a new programme called the Service Management Programme was introduced in 2018 to improve member experience and satisfaction. The programme is made up of 11 initiatives, including complaint management and initiatives to improve access to healthcare cover by members.

To this effect, GEMS has established seven Client Liaison Offices (CLOs) in the seven provinces employing 155 youth previously unemployed graduates. In 2019 GEMs will establish two more CLOs in Western Cape and Northern Cape.

GEMS BUDGET FINANCIAL PROJECTIONS FOR 2019/2020

The Scheme reported a surplus of R4.02 billion for the 2018 Financial Year and increased its reserve ratio from 15.2% to 24.7%. The accumulated funds increased from R5.4 billion in 2017 to R9.4 billion in 2018. It is expected that the reserve ratio will reach the required level of 25% by the end of 2019. The Scheme’s non-healthcare cost from 5.6% to 4.9% which remains the lowest in the industry.

We congratulate GEMS Scheme for receiving recorded consecutive Unqualified Audits from the Auditor-General since its inception in 2005 to date.

Honourable House Chairperson;

Under the leadership of President Ramaphosa, we will work together as a nation as we seek the solutions to the challenges facing our country. We will do so in order to keep the legacy of former President Nelson Mandela alive by ensuring that we build a nation where everyone will cherish being part of this country.

House Chairperson and Honourable Members,

It is our vision as a Ministry that the Service Needs of our People shall be our First Consideration. And it is upon this vision led by the Honourable Minister Mchunu and supported by the Director-General, Prof. Levin, the Staff of the DPSA and MPSA Entities that we will endeavour to build an ideal developmental State that will provide service to our people as enshrined in the Constitution and the Principles of Batho Pele – Putting People First, with a commitment ethos that says Thuma Mina, to deliver services for our People in a professional, ethical and optimal Khawuleza mandate.

Chairperson, This, we are committed to.

I thank you.


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