The Week Ahead: Budget 2021 & COVID-19 debates
Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's budget speech on Wednesday will dominate headlines this week.
The Minister has a tough job to do as he seeks to address significant social challenges, satisfy public pressure and reassure investors and ratings agencies.
The Budget is an annual plan for what government wants to achieve and how it will spend money to achieve those goals. It is the most important economic instrument of the government. It is used to make sure that the state has the resources it needs to do its work. Since there is a limit to the resources, there is an increased need for proper budgeting to allocate scarce resources to various governmental activities. (source: parliament.gov.za)
COVID-19; low economic growth; high unemployment; wastage and corruption; mismanagement at local, provincial and national government; revenue shortfalls and underperformance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are some of the major challenges facing the country.
According to analysts, the budget is expected to focus heavily on government’s plans to grow the economy, vaccine rollout costs, transfers to SOEs and plans to fix them. .
In addition, there will be a lot of attention on the spending allocated to government’s social and infrastructure programmes and plans to reduce the budget deficit and public sector wage bill.
The 2021 State of the Nation Address detailed the progress made with regards to the Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan. The President asserted that the country will not achieve higher rates of growth and employment if the government does not implement structural economic reforms.
The World Bank and IMF forecast that the economy will grow by 3.3% and 2.8% respectively in 2021. In his 2020 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, the Minister predicted 3.3% growth. This follows an estimated 7.3% contraction in 2020.
The reality is that public finances are constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development. Government has to do more with less and needs to be efficient in the use of financial resources.
Exercising budgetary and fiscal oversight is one of Parliament's important tasks. The budget presented by the Minister is a proposal that has to be scrutinised and approved by Parliament.
The budget will be accompanied with the tabling of the Appropriation Bill and Division of Revenue Bill. The budget bills will be discussed and processed in the relevant parliamentary committee.
In addition, the budgets of specific national departments are discussed in the committees which oversee those departments. As part of their oversight, committees can hold departments accountable by comparing the budget plans that Parliament has approved with what has actually been done.
It is also a pandemic-focused week, with both houses organising events on this topic. In the National Assembly, an urgent debate has been scheduled on Tuesday on the rollout of a Covid-19 vaccination plan for South Africa. The debate is sponsored by the Chief Whip of the Opposition. On Thursday, the NCOP has arranged a Ministerial Briefing Session on the Vaccine Rollout Strategy and Vaccine Acquisition Plan. Plus there are a number of virus-related committee hearings scheduled too.
We have consolidated our reports on the COVID-19 related meetings here.
Thursday’s NA sitting will be an emotional one for lawmakers as they pay their condolences and tributes to 7 colleagues who passed on: Prof B Bozzoli, Ms P P Dyantyi, Adv L K B Mpumlwana, Ms N F Shabalala, Ms N L Hermans, Mr J Mthembu and Ms P T Mantashe.
The next installment of the Women’s Charter Review Sessions will take place on Friday in Umkhanyakude, Umzinyathi, Uthukela and Zululand District Municipalities, KwaZulu-Natal Province and Cape Winelands, Central Karoo and Eden District Municipalities, Western Cape Province
There is a lot of significant action in the Committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:
Monday, 22 February 2021
Ad Hoc Committee on the section 100 Intervention in the North West Province, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by SIU, NPA and Hawks on progress made in North West s100 intervention], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00
Tuesday 23 February 2021
Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Pre-Briefing by PBO on the 2021 Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00
Portfolio Committee on Mineral Resources and Energy, (National Assembly), [Update by the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy on the Nuclear New Build (NNB) Request for Information (RFI); Consideration and adoption of minutes: 02 December 2020 & 10 February 2021], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Police, (National Assembly), [Consideration of Petition from Mrs Kinnear, calling for the Assembly to source information surrounding the death of her late husband, Lieutenant-Colonel Kinnear], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Communications, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the SABC on its 2019/20 Annual Report and all outstanding issues; Discussion of the Committee on the status report of SABC], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [ESKOM hearing on the annual report for the financial year under review, deviations and expansions, as well as all investigations], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Joint Meeting: Portfolio Committee on Public Service and Administration and Portfolio Committee on Health, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Government Employee Medical Scheme and Council for Medical Schemes on the allegations of the racial profiling, transformation and findings of the Advocate Ngcukaitobi report], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, (National Assembly), [Shortlisting of candidates for the position of Chairperson of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Select Committee on Security and Justice, (National Council of Provinces), [Deliberations and consideration of the proposed amendments on the Electoral Laws Amendment Bill [B22B-2020] (National Assembly – sec 75)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Police, (National Assembly), [Follow-up on BRRR recommendations: SAPS and IPID; Briefing by CSPS on the SAPS Amendment Bill], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by SALGA on Small Town Regeneration Programme], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Health, (National Assembly), [Consideration and adoption of minutes; Briefing by North West Provincial Department of Health on health care services in relation to Covid-19 and on the Vaccine roll-out strategy], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Social Development, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) on the implications of the Children’s Amendment Bill [B18 – 2020]; Briefing by the Content Advisor on concept paper for public participation], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-13:00
Thursday, 25 February 2021
Joint Meeting: Standing Committee on Finance, Standing Committee on Appropriations, Select Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Appropriations, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Minister of Finance on the 2021 Budget], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:30-14:00
Friday, 26 February 2021
Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry, (National Assembly), [Finalising shortlist of candidates for consideration for the position of Chairperson of the National Lotteries Commission (NLC)], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-11:00
Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, (National Assembly), [Meeting with the Judiciary], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00
Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Adoption of Committee minutes: 2 Dec 2020; Briefings by the Auditor-General of South Africa, and the acting Secretary to Parliament on the institution’s performance in 2019/20], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:00-15:00
Committees provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs. Share your on the ground experience and expert information to the relevant committees. Critically, what questions should MPs pose to the Executive as they conduct their oversight work?
View the schedule page here.
*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.
About this blog
"That week in Parliament" is a series of blog posts in which the important Parliamentary events of the week are discussed.