Nginibize ngamagama? [Should I call you by your name?]
I'm sorry, hon Chairperson, I'm sorry! [Laughter.] Hon members, all protocol observed, or it will eat into my time if I go on and on.
Thank you for affording us the opportunity to present to this esteemed House the 2014-15 Budget Vote for the Ministry of Public Service and Administration.
It is a great honour for me to address this House on this occasion, as this is a significant period in many ways. We are mindful that we today present our Ministry's first Budget Vote in the first term following the successful and peaceful elections. This is especially important because the year 2014 marks a significant milestone in our country, as we celebrate 20 years of democracy.
It is apt that we look back and appreciate that we are indeed closing a chapter in the history of this country. We, in government, are especially mindful of the fact that we are entering a new phase under the guidance of our people who have given us a resounding mandate.
Today our aspirations are to achieve Vision 2030 and, as such, our collective efforts, as the Public Service, are geared towards meeting the developmental goals, as set out in the National Development Plan, NDP.
Central to achieving this vision is the need for a well-run and effectively co-ordinated state institution with skilled public servants who are committed to the public good and capable of delivering consistently high quality services. We need to create a citizen-centred cadre that is responsive, timeous and courteous in the execution of its duties. To be able to achieve this, we need to create an environment that is conducive to productivity and one that will take care of the mental and physical agility of its members.
The Government Employees Medical Scheme, Gems - the chairperson usually says I am the number one fan of Gems - sets a sterling example of the standard of public institutions we seek to realise. As President Zuma pronounced earlier this year in his state of the nation address, Gems is a South African good story that continues to inspire.
Responding to the challenge presented by the President in his 2013 state of the nation address to combat lifestyle diseases, the scheme is currently piloting a workplace-based exercise and lifestyle programme for employees. Once the programme is finalised and approved, it will be rolled out across the Public Service in an effort to curb the obesity crisis the country is currently facing.
In keeping with the scheme's stated target for 2013, 70,4% of the beneficiaries who are estimated to be HIV-positive were enrolled with the Gems HIV Disease Management Programme by December 2013. The scheme's antiretroviral therapy, ART, adherence rate target is 85% for those taking ART and this was met.
The new chronic medicine management service was introduced to provide members with improved access to medicine, whilst greater participation of community pharmacies is encouraged.
In 2013, in line with the scheme's fraud policy and sanctions 62 providers were placed on indirect payment during the course of the year; 36 healthcare providers were reported to the Health Professions Council of SA, HPCSA; and nine healthcare providers were reported to the SA Pharmacy Council, SAPC. Criminal convictions were successfully pursued and sanctions were imposed, including the termination of membership of four members.
Gems continues to make a difference in the lives of our nation at large. As the second largest medical scheme in South Africa, in terms of membership numbers, Gems remains the fastest growing medical scheme with more than 1,8 million lives being covered.
The scheme has performed exceptionally well and is in a solid financial position. To bear testimony to this, the scheme was awarded first place in the medical industry in 2011 and 2013 for outstanding customer service in an independent survey that assessed customer service across 190 industries. So, all is well in the Public Service.
A complete departure from conventional, traditional ways of doing things to a platform where speed, efficiency and effectiveness are the operating standard is vital for South Africa's long-term development.
Tasked with entrenching the culture and practice of innovation for transforming the public sector into an efficient and effective machinery, the Centre for Public Service Innovation, CPSI, is instrumental in identifying, through its rewards programme, innovations that would maximise our impact as a government.
Chairperson, may I please take some water? [Interjections.]