25 May 2020

Government Gazette Highlights & Other Announcements


Having focused during April and early May on Covid-19 regulations and ministerial directives, the Government Gazette included several notices of more general interest last week.

National Student Financial Aid Scheme

  • An ‘independent investigation into root causes of the systems, processes, policy and capacity challenges’ facing the National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) was announced on 20 May. Its terms of reference include reviews of:
    •  the IT system
    • progress made in implementing recommendations made since 2014
    • annual application process ‘performance’ since 2018
    • the financial eligibility means test evaluation and approval process, and
    • the suitability of existing disbursement systems.


Competition Act: Buyer power regulations


  • On 22 May, the Competition Commission issued a notice on recently published ‘buyer power’ enforcement guidelines outlining the ‘general principles’ to be followed in assessing alleged contraventions of section 8(4)(a) of the Competition Act (which prohibits unfair pricing and trading conditions). The guidelines were released on 18 May with:
    • a summary of what is meant by ‘unfair pricing’
    • a provisional list of unfair trading conditions, and
    • answers to frequently asked questions.


Financial matters

  • The Auditor-General has issued a directive on the frequency, nature and scope of public sector audits, with the aim of ensuring ‘optimal levels of accountability and transparency in the management of public resources’.


  • The Accounting Standards Board has called for comment on three International Public Sector Accounting Standards Board exposure drafts. According to the Board’s overview of the drafts, once in force the revised standards will ‘introduce new approaches for some of the most significant transactions of public sector entities, including inter-governmental transfers and grants for the delivery of key government services to the community’. The exposure drafts focus on:
    • revenue with performance obligations
    • revenue without performance obligations, and
    • transfer expenses.


  • Section 21(1) of the 2016 Tax Administration Laws Amendment Act came into effect on 22 May, allowing:
    • any refunds due under any law administered by the South African Revenue Service to be offset against any outstanding debt under the 1964 Customs and Excise Act before being offset against any other unpaid:
      • tax
      • duty
      • levy
      • charge
      • interest, or
      • penalty.



Sustainable finance


  • On 15 May, National Treasury released a draft technical paper for public comment, as a first step towards developing a ‘framework for measuring, managing and reporting sustainable finance initiatives’.
  • An accompanying media statement referred to the financial sector’s role in assisting government to honour its commitments under the 2016 Paris agreement on climate change.


Shark conservation and management


  • A panel of international and local experts has been appointed to review South Africa’s action plan, prompted by:
    • ‘public concern about shark populations’
    • changes in the distribution of great white sharks, and
    • increasing ‘conflict between fishers and tourism operators’.


Prepared by Pam Saxby


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