International Relations and Cooperation Minister Naledi Pandor on Thursday said her department’s mission for the current financial year was expected to focus more on economic diplomacy and facilitating more foreign direct investment in support of the President Cyril Ramaphosa’s drive to attract $100 billion (more than R1 trillion) to South Africa.
At a media briefing held in Parliament ahead of her budget vote on Thursday afternoon, she said: “We want more opportunities for the export of South African goods and services, more tourist arrivals and more opportunities for South African youth to acquire skills. I also think South Africa has a lot to offer the world in terms of cultural diplomacy. I have asked our missions to make sure they don’t neglect this part of our work. We have a wealth of heritage to share through cultural exchange programmes and other activities. This would assist our artists to showcase their talent and attract thousands to experience South Africa.”
The minister said South Africa’s foreign policy is, and has always been based on the country’s vision of championing an African continent which is prosperous, peaceful, and democratic, and a creating a South Africa that is non-racial, non-sexist, united and which works for a world that is just and equitable.
The department’s total budget allocation for 2019/20 financial year is R6.508 billion. A total of 68% of it is utilised to support 125 missions in 108 countries across the globe, according to Pandor.
She said her department had begun discussions on how to do more with the limited resources. “A major challenge of our budget, especially for the missions abroad, is the effect of foreign exchange rate fluctuations, particularly the performance of the rand against the US dollar. Treasury allocates according to a specific rate and makes no compensatory adjustments.
“Dirco, like all other government departments, has not been spared from the necessary budget cuts implemented by National Treasury. Our compensation of employees budget has been reduced from R2.964 billion in the 2018/19 financial year to R2.874 billion for the 2019/2020 financial year,” said Pandor, adding that the situation required the department to find innovative and effective ways of doing more with less.
“We will review our mission numbers and consider whether a re-organisation is merited. We are expected to utilise public resources in a careful manner, following all the prescripts as provided in law, particularly the Public Finance Management Act.
“I have urged the department to focus on developing seamless financial management to ensure we meet the mandates assigned to us.”
– African News Agency