Economic dept to be set up by April next year

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Cape Town - The Department of Economic Development, which will be set up in three phases, is expected to be fully established by April next year.

"Unusually in the new cabinet, Economic Development did not inherit a big part of any existing department and so our task is to create a new department and we doing it in three phases," said Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel.

He was speaking ahead of the Trade and Industry Budget Vote, which was shared by the both the Department of Economic Development and Department of Trade and Industry (DTI).

The Department of Economic Development, as an interim measure until it has its own budget from the National Treasury, will receive funds from the Department of Trade and Industry.

The minister explained that the costs involved in setting up his ministry would be accommodated via a "ring-fenced item of the DTI's budget" until the Appropriation Adjustment Bill in October which makes provision for new departments.

Mr Patel said there was an established team which was working on an organisational organogram and a budget in three parts.

"The first phase is from the establishment of the ministry when President Jacob Zuma appointed his Cabinet, up to the end of September which we see as the core establishment phase."

In this period, most of the ministry's work will concentrate on getting logistics of the department in place. An interim budget from 10 May until 30 September this year will provide for establishment costs and some capacity to commence policy work.

Minister Patel said the second phase runs from 1 October to 31 March next year, where a six-month transition Budget would provide for a more substantial work programme.

"We will have a budget bote created for the transition period in the October Appropriation Adjustment Bill," he said.

The minister said that by the third phase, the ministry would have a full strategic plan and budget which would be presented to the Portfolio Committee in September this year.

"It will take us up to 1 April next year. So by the third phase, we hope to be integrated in the budget and planning cycle in the state."

Minister Patel said the ministry's work would centre on four inter-connected areas of policy-development, planning, effective implementation and continuous monitoring and evaluation.

"The mandate is clear - the department will be responsible to develop economic policy with a broad, cross-cutting focus so that macro and micro-economic policy reinforce each other and are both aligned to the election mandate."

The department will also be responsible for economic development planning and will work collegially within Cabinet to ensure coordination around job creation.

"Some of the areas that the ministry will focus on, as soon as the department is fully set up, are the priorities set out by the President in the State of the Nation Address. They are the immediate and short term focus for all of us," said Minister Patel.