Budget Speech Vote 2014

 

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BUDGET VOTE SPEECH - THE NATIONAL DEVELOPMENT PLAN IS OUR GUIDE 

We are honoured to present to this EPC today our Budget Vote for 2014 / 2015 on this, the 20th Anniversary of our freedom.

Home Affairs carries the responsibility of ensuring that all South Africans have an identity and status, and to maintain a credible and secure National Population Register (NPR).

The past 20 years have also seen our young democracy become full part of the international community of nations, requiring DHA effectively to manage the entry and exit of persons to and from South Africa.

This carries with it immense development benefits for our country, but it also has serious risk implications that need to be mitigated.

It is this evolution that informs our three departmental outcomes.

In pursuit of these objectives, the budget of the Department of Home Affairs is set at R6.6 billion for 2014/15:

• Departmental programmes receive R4,9 billion,
• The Film and Publication Board will receive R79 million,
• The Electoral Commission will receive R1,6 billion, and
• The Government Printing Works is now fully self-funding.
In this regard, I have delegated to the Deputy Minister the responsibility for Front-Office Improvement, Asylum-Seeker Management and Legal Services about which she shall later elaborate during her speech.

A SECURED SOUTH AFRICAN CITIZENSHIP AND IDENTITY

One of our top priorities is to clean up the National Population Register, the NPR, which continues, for historical reasons, to contain significant inaccuracies.

One of the main methods to clean up the NPR has been the on-going National Population Registration campaign, a key target of which has been to persuade all parents to register their children within 30 days of birth. 

This remains a daunting challenge in our country where late registrations of birth, for historical reasons, remain a significant feature, resulting in significant breaches in and pollution of our NPR.

During the past financial year, 64 of all births were registered within 30 days, which constituted an improvement of 5% on the prior financial year. 

We have thus far inaugurated live birth registration 391 hospitals and health facilities across the country and intend enhancing our partnership with the Departments of Health and Basic Education in support of birth registration.

I would like to make this important announcement that I intend ending all late registration of birth (LRB) by end of December 2015, after which all applications for late registration of birth would go through an appeal and adjudication process.

Timely registration of birth must, and will soon be, the only way in to the National Population Register.

This calls for a national effort involving all patriotic South Africans keen to ensure we have a clean NPR to get involved in the final mopping up stages of the LRB campaign.

In this regard, the 264 Stakeholder Forums that have been formed can play an important coordinating role.

One of the most tangible elements of our efforts to build a National Identity System is the Smart-ID Card which we began rolling out in October 2013 in 70 designated Smart-ID Card offices countrywide.

Thus far, over 300 000 cards have been issued and an additional 70 offices will have Smart-ID Card application capability by the end of this financial year, to support our rollout target of 1.5 million cards.

30 of the 70 offices will be ready for Smart-ID Card issue within 100 days.

We are investigating ways to leverage partnerships with the Post Office and the banks in the Smart-Card rollout, the details of which we will announce when they are ready.

The dramatic improvements of recent years in the issuing of ID books and passports have also been sustained with 92% of first-issue ID books issued in 54 days, and 96% of passports applied for through live-capture being issued within 13 working days.

People aged 60 and above, as well 16-year olds, are the only group currently invited to replace their ID books with Smart-ID cards free of charge.

When we reach the target of 140 Smart-ID Card offices, we will then completely stop issuing green ID documents to 16-year olds.

The Smart-ID card is also an example of technological innovation, with advanced technology, including biometric data, which has ensured that it has not been breached in the 10 months it has been in circulation.

The South African Smart-ID Card was awarded the ‘Regional ID Document of the Year Award’  in 2013 from the Asian, Middle East and African Security Printing Conference. 

This is a world class, South African-developed, product which will have an enormous positive impact on our security and economy, with significant potential applications in financial services, governance, retail and ICT. 

The opportunity is there for local technology entrepreneurs and SMMEs to develop commercial solutions which take advantage of the card’s functionality.

A SECURED AND RESPONSIVE IMMIGRATION SYSTEM

We must manage immigration securely and effectively in a way which benefits our economy and society, heeds our international obligations and manages risks to national security. 

Cabinet has assigned DHA lead responsibility to establish the Border Management Agency (BMA) which will be central to securing all land, air and maritime ports of entry and support the efforts of the South African National Defence Force to address the threats posed to, and the porousness of, our borderline.

We are currently undertaking a feasibility study to determine all the practicalities of a future BMA, the findings and proposals of which will guide the legislative process.

All relevant government departments are being engaged in an inter-governmental consultative process through a Project Management Office we have established. 

By the end of 2016 we hope to have the BMA established.

We have upgraded infrastructure at 11 high-volume points of entry, including Beit Bridge and Maseru Bridge, and expanded the Enhanced Movement Control System (EMCS) to 13 additional points of entry.

During the previous year, we facilitated the movement of 39 million travellers in and out of the Republic demonstrating that our ability to manage the flow of people in and out of the country is becoming increasingly efficient and robust.

In this regard, we draw attention to the new immigration regulations which took effect on May 26th, 2014, following amendments to the immigration legislation, which had grown out-dated in the context of new complex challenges.

As well as facilitating the streamlining of our permitting regime, improving the administration of our visa-issuance, and regulating human movement into and out of South Africa, the new regulations enhance our security by addressing areas of weakness, risk and abuse. 

Opportunistically, South Africa is being advised to drop or relax visa requirements in a world where they are required of South Africans when travelling abroad and where security has become a matter of global concern.

We reject with contempt any suggestion that these regulations are part of an Afrophobic agenda to keep Africans or any nationality for that matter out of South Africa.

After all, South Africa cannot be separated from Africa and hence we can neither shut ourselves off Africa nor can we shut our eyes to the enormous risks that the new world possesses in abundance. 

Our commitment to African unity and development is resolute, and our track record in this regard speaks for itself. 

We value the contribution of fellow Africans from across the continent living in South Africa and that is why we have continued to support the AU and SADC initiatives to free human movement; but this cannot happen haphazardly, unilaterally or to the exclusion of security concerns; and neither can it happen without standardising population registration and immigration legislation and addressing development challenges everywhere.

Risks to any country on our continent have a direct impact on our own country.

After all, we have not unilaterally removed existing visa waiver agreements we have with fellow African countries and are keen to enter into more such agreements as we are satisfied that more African countries are conduction civic registration of their nationals.

At this point, I wish to announce that we are in the final stages of deliberations about the Zimbabwean Special Dispensation, which will expire in December this year.

I am mindful of the anxiety among the Zimbabwean nationals in possession of this special permit issued in 2010, but I shall announce my decision in August this year.

Future policy development will focus, among other issues, on a framework the better to deal with economic migration many of whom have tended to pose as asylum seekers.

We are actively seeking a solution on how best to separate asylum-seekers and refugees from economic migrants.

In this regard, work is under way to introduce a nation-wide discussion on a new international migration policy framework that shall take into consideration current realities and future management perspectives.

DHA contributing to economic development and tourism

The DHA contributes to economic development in several ways and our contribution as an enabler of tourism is irrefutable.

Our Identity Documents help create the platform of trust and accountability which underpins our competitive and sophisticated financial system.

 Our ability efficiently to facilitate large numbers of international visitors across ports of entry has enabled our positioning as a trusted host for major international events.

Our immigration management enables us to bring in workers and investors who contribute to economic growth. 

Our staff have done well to eliminate visa and permit backlogs, and proactively assist businesses with immigration issues.

The new immigration regulations will make it easier to source critical skills from overseas. 

Foreign nationals possessing critical skills can now apply for and be granted a critical skills visa, even without a job, allowing them to enter the country and seek work for a period of up to 12 months.

For some time now, business stakeholders have been asking for families of workers to be considered as a unit, an international best practice which the new regulations now include. 

These specific improvements, and our commitment to responsiveness to business needs in general, will make it easier for South Africa to attract the critical skills and investment our economy needs.

I am further proud to announce that all the eleven (11) Visa Facilitation Centres are now operational throughout South Africa and results have begun to show in the sense that 4000 applications were received in June alone and the turnaround time for adjudication has already been reduced.

MODERNISING HOME AFFAIRS

DHA currently uses inefficient, out-dated manual systems which both hamper our ability to offer a speedy service to customers and are vulnerable to fraud and corruption.

We have thus embarked on a modernization programme to secure, integrate and automate all our systems and create a paperless data environment. 

Customers will benefit from greater efficiency, convenience and security. 

Working together with SARS, we have successfully implemented the enhanced movement control system (eMCS) in 58 ports of entry (POEs) and automated the Live-Capture for Smart ID Card and Passports in 70 offices nation-wide.

We have upgraded infrastructure in physical offices and technology at the Government Printing Works (GPW) and in all the offices with live-capture and Smart-ID Card.

We have also conducted training and change management in all 70 offices for front and back office officials on new automated processes.

Key in the Modernisation Project is the development of,

• the National Identification System which will replace the current NPR and Refugee systems,
• an integrated Border Management Solution which will include the Trusted Traveller programme, e-Visa and e-Permit system,
• data clean-up of key immigration and civics systems, and
• further roll out of live capture Smart-ID Card to the remaining identified offices.