The Department of Communications (DoC) on Tuesday indicated its intention of spending the bulk of its R1.7-billion budget allocation on the operational requirements of the State-owned companies (SOCs) falling under the department.
These included Sentech, the South African Broadcasting Corporation, the South African Post Office and the Universal Service and Access Agency of South Africa.
“Stabilising our State-owned companies remains a key priority for the department. This is key to ensuring that they discharge their service delivery mandates,” said Communications Minister Dina Pule during her departmental Budget vote speech in Cape Town.
Pule said the department was currently implementing processes to ensure it was better informed about the activities of the SOCs and that, by 2014, all the entities would achieve clean audits.
The Minister also aimed to fill all critical posts within the SOCs, as well as her own department, which currently held a 29% vacancy rate.
“We are confident that we can reverse this trend within the first half of this year because most of the recruitment work has been done and we are now close to finalising the appointments across all employment levels,” she said.
Pule added that the department prioritised the acquisition of skills in areas such as broadband, telecommunications policy, postal services, economics, frequency spectrum and information and communications technology (ICT) research.
Meanwhile, the DoC prioritised three programmes during the financial year to accelerate building modern digital infrastructure and policy reforms.
The programmes included the development of a National Integrated ICT Policy, the rolling out of a national broadband network, and the implementation of the digital broadcasting migration policy.
Further, Pule committed to finalising the policy directions on high-demand spectrum to facilitate the licensing of broadband applications in the current financial year.
The DoC was also working on the amendments of the Electronic Communications Bill, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa Bill, the Post and Telecommunications-related Matters Amendment Bill and the Electronic Communications and Transactions Bill.
However, Pule noted that the amendments were “confined to technical matters”, which would not be deferred until the comprehensive ICT policy review was completed.