In his annual address, in Cape Town, November 6, 2014, President Zuma said; “It is always a pleasure to come to the NCOP. This House brings together the three spheres of government, to discuss matters which affect the lives of our people.”
You have chosen the theme for this year’s annual address and debate, as “Celebrating 20 years of a Democratic Parliament – Together Moving the NCOP forward as a vanguard of the interests of Provinces”.
Chapter 4 of the Constitution outlines the role of the National Council of Provinces, as being to represent the provinces and to ensure that provincial interests are taken into account in the national sphere of government.
Our key achievements has been the development and implementation of policies that favour the poor. The result is that our country is on track to achieve most of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals by 2015.
We have made good progress in meeting these goals which include the eradication of extreme poverty, universal primary education, attaining gender equality and the empowerment of women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, reducing the burden of disease through primarily combating HIV and AIDS, malaria tuberculosis, protecting the environment and mobilizing global partnerships for development by 2015.
What is more impressive with the achievement of the education targets is that the proportion of girls attending primary, secondary and tertiary education has improved significantly.
We have recorded progress through our infrastructure plan, in building and renovating clinics and hospitals. We are continuing to implement the National Health Insurance scheme at a number of pilot sites. The scheme is aimed at making access to health equal for all, regardless of class or financial means.
We need to produce more doctors and other key health professionals. We trust that Premiers will continue to work with national government as they have been doing, to recruit young people for medical training locally and abroad.
Government provides extensive income support programmes such as social grants for the poor, access to free education and primary health care and the provision of free basic services such as water and electricity to poor households.
We are taking these achievements forward through implementing the National Development Plan. The Plan is one of the major achievements of the fourth administration. The NDP requires us to undertake certain measures to grow the economy and create jobs.
We are implementing various programmes such as the Industrial Policy Action Plan and the National Infrastructure Plan to promote inclusive growth and development. We are also implementing the NDP through an innovative delivery programme, Operation Phakisa.
We joined the BRICS forum in the past administration which was a major achievement for our country. On July 15, 2014, the BRICS Finance Ministers signed an Article Agreement Establishing the New Development Bank.
This House, as the voice of provinces, will play an important role in ensuring that the legislation coming out of our parliament is transformative and will lead to a better life.
I thank you!