THE Department of Home Affairs says it requires a larger budget in order to accomplish its modernisation goals.
In his budget speech earlier this year, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan increased the allocation to Home Affairs to R7.4bn, from R6.4bn last year.
Home Affairs Minister Malusi Gigaba is scheduled to deliver his budget vote speech in Parliament on Friday.
“A modern, secure Home Affairs will require a larger budget and by the end of this year, we will present a business case to Cabinet for approval,” the Minister says in his speech, prepared for delivery.
He says the business case will, among other things, show how a modern, secure Home Affairs will enable the government and business to deliver services better, cheaper and faster and drastically reduce fraud.
“There will be opportunities for Home Affairs to generate new revenue streams and hence the overall impact of this re-alignment on the fiscus should be positive.”
President Jacob Zuma launched the eHome Affairs portal earlier this month.
Through a partnership with four banks — FNB, Standard Bank, ABSA and Nedbank — citizens can now apply for their smart identity documents online and make electronic payments. The service, which is at pilot phase, will soon be rolled out to more branches once governance processes have been finalised. The pilot project is being run in Gauteng and some branches in Cape Town. The service is initially only available to 30–35-year-olds.
Mr Gigaba says that in the interim, some of the department’s targets will be affected by budget constraints, but it will strive to use existing resources creatively, and continue to make innovative use of public-private-partnerships such as our current partnership with the banks to expand its footprints, provide new and innovative channels of delivery, expedite the conversion of the Smart-ID cards and reach out to more clients.
Mr Gigaba also says the Department has made great strides in terms of early birth registration.
“Universal civil registration rests on two legs: early registration of all births within 30 days, and provision of identity documents to all adults.
“From registering 39% of all births within 30 days in 2010-11, in 2015-16 we registered approximately 67% of all births within 30 days,” he said.
The Minister also said the Department aims to contribute to economic development by facilitating the entry of visitors, tourists, skilled workers and investors into South Africa.
In 2015-16 the department facilitated 16.1-million movements of foreigners entering the country. The number of tourists arriving in South Africa in January, increased 15% year-on-year. The department also issued 4,424 critical skills visas last year and finalised 80% of these applications within its target turnaround time of eight weeks.
“We now have 25 visa applications centres in nine high-volume tourism markets around the world, and will increase this to 36 in 12 countries by the end of the year. This year, to further support tourism and inward investment, we will open two premium business visa facilitation centres in Port Elizabeth and Durban,” said Mr Gigaba.
He also said he had directed the department to explore ways to improve the management of international students. The department is set to launch a special exemption to allow graduate international students in critical skills areas, to qualify for permanent residence permits upon graduation, said Mr Gigaba.
“This measure is to ensure that South Africa benefits from all of the skills produced by its universities, and to make it easier for international students who want to work or start business in South Africa after graduation to do so.
“International students constitute a key segment which is prioritised by governments globally, because of the economic and social benefits they offer host countries in terms of adding to the skills base, and contributing positively to society more broadly,” said Mr Gigaba.