The PPGI held a meeting with the Economic Cluster of Directors-General in the Union Buildings last week. This was the last meeting of the Directors-General of the 5th administration since 1994 and so it was important for them to ratify the 5-year business plans of the key sectors, as these would form the main economic plan of the new administration after the May 2019 General Elections. The Directors-General had received our 5-year business plans (please see the Forestry BP attached) a week before the engagement and the DG of the DPME who oversees the State’s planning, advised the DGs, that last week’s engagement was their last opportunity to interrogate or challenge the plans, after which these would become the plans of the 6th administration.
Messrs Alex Thiel of SAPPI, Sandile Ngcobo of MONDI and I attended the engagement and we were also one of a limited number of sectors, who were invited to make a short input on some of our priority projects (please also see the attached presentation).
The excellent news is that there was no opposition to the Forestry Business Plan from any of the DGs and the DG of DAFF instead reaffirmed his commitment to a number of the points in our plan, including securing funding for research, development and innovation, funding for forest protection (particularly for crop losses) and funding for small-scale growers. While DAFF have given us similar assurances many time before in the past, in this instance, there are two key differences as follows.
Firstly, as we did when we negotiated the BBBEE Charter, we have made the investment commitments to the Presidency on condition that the long-standing hinderances (reflected in our attached business plan and presentation) are removed. The second and at least as important difference, is that this plan is being personally driven by the State President, which means that there will be heightened focus on indeed getting the hinderances removed, as he is almost single-mindedly focussed on economic growth and investment as the key driver of turning the country around. Members who watched the SONA would have heard this message strongly throughout the address, including when he referred directly to the PPGI initiative. FSA has previously tried to escalate non-performance by Ministers charged with the forestry portfolio to the Presidency, with limited success but now the issues which are hindering our sector are being addressed by the Presidency itself, which is an extraordinary outcome of our value chain’s participation in this process. It also helps that the acting DDG for Forestry in DAFF, is someone who is genuinely committed to addressing the long-standing challenges and the DG again gave us the assurance last week, that the filling of the position, is progressing as fast as possible.
While we cannot be sure about what changes the President may make to departments and Ministers after May, it is of much less significance now, as our Business Plan has been approved as the Presidential Sector plan for the country, so whomever is given the forestry portfolio, in whichever department, will be measured by the DPME and the Presidency against this plan.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank all the associations and companies who have contributed to the process, without which our plan and value proposition to the Presidency, would have been far less compelling. Messrs Thiel, Vilane and Ngcobo deserve special mention in this regard, for the investment of their time and their high-level contributions in the three meetings we have held thus far.
We will keep all informed of the next steps in the process, which as reported previously, is planned as a follow-up meeting with the President in June.
Source: Forestry South Africa