Deputy Speaker, comrades and friends, for some time now we have committed ourselves ... [Interjections.] You should be listening to the content of what I'm saying, rather than what I look like. I've never presented myself as being particularly interesting, for, since my primary school days, I have never been able to draw any of the girls to me. [Laughter.]
Therefore, I've got no illusions in that regard, especially now that I have so little hair and a greying beard. But maybe I have something useful to say!
As I was saying before I was so rudely interrupted on a very irrelevant point - I'd hoped that the Speaker would protect me against that - I think we're very clear about it that in different ways we've been saying for some while now that we are committed to forging a developmental state. In fact, the National Development Plan, NDP, and the Medium-Term Strategic Framework, MTSF, are to a large extent, if not wholly, directed towards that.
Obviously, the role of the development finance institutions, DFIs, has become more important than perhaps they have ever been; and so it is with the Development Bank of Southern Africa, DBSA.
We cannot, we are clear, become fully developmental on our own, given the links we have with the Southern African Development Community, SADC, region and, in fact, the continent as a whole. We have to contribute to the extent we can to the growth and development of our neighbours, not just in the SADC environs, but beyond that too, which is what this Bill is substantially about.
The amendments to the Development Bank of Southern Africa Act, the Development Bank of Southern Africa Amendment Bill as it's called, seek to do that. It recognises that we have to give a legal mandate, if you like - not if you like, because it is in fact a legal mandate - for the DBSA to go beyond the SADC territory.
To some extent in a limited form it's happening already and to a large extent, therefore, this Bill gives a firmer legal foundation and provides a rational basis for this, which Parliament and the public out there can then monitor.
The Bill authorises the DBSA to increase its authorised share capital, which essentially refers to the maximum amount of capital that the DBSA can raise in terms of section 13(1)(a) of the Act.
The Bill will allow the DBSA to raise this money independently. It's very consistent with what the Minister said in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement that the national fiscus is not going to be unduly interfered with through the activities of the state-owned enterprises, SOEs, and the DFIs while performing their developmental and other tasks.
What is interesting is that the Bill also allows the Minister, after consulting with the board of the Development Bank, to change the ceiling of the authorised share capital. So it could be increased if circumstances allowed for it, but, interestingly, it could also be decreased if the circumstance provide for that.
Therefore the extension of the bank's territorial mandate will enable it to participate in large-scale infrastructure and other strategic projects on the African continent outside the SADC region, which have the potential to advance trade and economic growth on the continent and support South Africa's binational commissions and commitments to regional integration.
This is very important. There are members on the committee or people elsewhere who are concerned whether, given our financial constraints, this is the right way to go. But if you look at the Bill and if you look at the interactions we had in the committee, what emerges very clearly is that it's going to be a very sober, pragmatic, strategic intervention beyond the SADC countries and, in fact, the Minister will have to approve annual plans to go beyond the SADC countries.
The DBSA, it has to be noted, has rationalised and restructured and changed its business model and it is in a much better financial position now than it was previously. After a difficult 2012-13 financial year, the bank's financial performance in 2013-14 improved with a net profit for the year of R787 million from a net loss of R825,9 million in the previous year.
At the end of the 2013-14 financial year, the DBSA had development assets of R55,5 billion spread across 13 SADC countries mainly in the energy, water, transport and social infrastructure sectors.
While the DBSA's activities continue to be predominantly in South Africa itself, it can, as we said, play a key role in supporting South Africa's commitment to the rest of the continent and in doing so support, it must be stressed, our own economic development.
To find the right balance between investing in our country and in other countries is really the challenge. Parliament, to the extent that we can, will play a clear role, and, certainly, the Minister will seek to ensure that and we'll hold National Treasury to account in that regard.
The DBSA, of course, we need to be reminded, facilitates financial and nonfinancial investments in the social and economic infrastructure sectors. It provides financial, technical and other assistance. Its main focus is infrastructure-financing, but it also contributes to creating a climate for the private sector to become more involved in infrastructure investment. The bank acts as a financier, partner and advisor to development role- players and stakeholders. It fills in the gap where the market fails to invest in appropriate developmental projects.
Regional integration is crucial to the growth of the South African economy as well as to the growth of our involvement in the broader community - and we have had the DBSA to some extent getting involved in the North-South Corridor, which is under the leadership of the SADC, the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Comesa, and the East African Community, EAC. This is endorsed by the African Union, AU.
The programme is directed at regional economic integration through the upgrading and extension of transport links, road, rail, ports and one-stop border posts in Southern and East Africa, so South Africa champions this initiative through the Presidential Infrastructure Champion Initiative, Pici, which President Jacob Zuma chairs.
We have obviously raised with the National Treasury the need to have a co- operative relationship with the African Development Bank.
Obviously, there's also the pending formation of a Brics bank, and that too means that the DBSA has to carve out a niche or role that is complementary and doesn't blur its particular responsibilities and roles with that of the African Development Bank and the soon-to-be established Brics bank.
We received a submission from the SA Local Government Association, Salga, proposing that since a key aspect of the DBSA's work revolves around infrastructure investment at local government level, they wanted to have the opportunity, through the Act, to nominate representatives. I think they had the idea of two of the directors on the board being direct representatives of the SA Local Government Association.
We gave it our very considered attention, but after further engagement with the National Treasury, the DBSA and indeed Salga, we said a polite no. Amongst many other reasons, we first pointed out that the board is not meant to represent stakeholders directly in the first instance, as it would undermine the ethos of the board and how it is constituted.
Secondly, if Salga were to have its own representatives, why not the provincial sphere of government, or even the national sphere of government for that matter? Why not any of the other stakeholders? So it opens the floodgates, if you like, for all the stakeholders to say that they want to have direct representation on the board.
Moreover, thirdly, the Minister in any case appoints people according to certain criteria and he does include people with local-government expertise and experience. Indeed the current board has two such members. The Minister committed himself, as did the officials of National Treasury, to continuing to do so and know that our committee will monitor that they do precisely that.
Finally, we said that if Salga had its own representatives, they would secure their mandates from Salga and they would report back to Salga and in so doing undermine the collective spirit in which the board of directors of the Development Bank is required to operate.
What we chose to do instead is to make an amendment to the Act to provide for it that in choosing the skills set of the DBSA board as such, the Minister also has to take account of people who will have experience and expertise in the local government sector and that is what we delivered.
It is important to say, finally, as I conclude in the 52 seconds left to me, that the NDP aims to strengthen intraregional trade in Southern Africa from 7% to 25% by the year 2030.
The NDP explicitly expresses the importance of infrastructure development in attaining its developmental goals, not just in our own country, but on the SADC horizons and on the continent as a whole. Much of what is being done in this Bill is actually serving, yet again, as another example of how in many different ways, big and small, we are seeking to implement the National Development Plan. I thank you, Deputy Speaker. [Applause.]