The Week Ahead: Budget Vote debates continue...
Parliament will largely be consumed by Budget Vote debates this week.
The debates allow for Parliament, and the public, to be updated about what departments are doing, how they are performing and exactly how public money is being used in a forum larger than a Committee meeting.
Each debate lasts about 2 hours and 15 minutes and take place in mini-plenaries i.e. breakaway sessions of the National Assembly. The Minister and Deputy Minister/s introduces the budget on behalf of the Department and MPs then debate the budget through a Speakers' List. Due to the tight schedule, multiple budget vote debates take place simultaneously. There are 19 debates scheduled this week. A few of the standout ones include National Treasury, Mineral Resources and Energy, Basic Education and Human Settlements.
So far, the speeches have followed a familiar pattern – a few interesting announcements, a focus on implementing government’s economic reconstruction and recovery plan, a recognition of the fiscal constraints and budget cuts and a recognition that COVID-19 has placed added pressure on government services.
You can find the full Budget Vote debates schedule
You can find all the budget vote speeches and responses here
After each vote has been debated, each House (NA + NCOP) must vote on the whole budget. The NA vote will take place in a marathon plenary sitting on Friday, 4 June, starting at 10h00 while the NCOP vote will happen later.
Elsewhere, the NCOP has scheduled 2 sittings – for Tuesday and Thursday – where it will cover policy debates on Vote 3: Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs and Vote 29: Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and Vote 34: Mineral Resources and Energy respectively.
On the sidelines, the NCOP has arranged a Members Support and Facilities meeting. As part of its responsibilities, Parliament ensures that facilities remain relevant and support the changing needs of MPs. In addition, it provides capacity building and training for Members in order for them to fulfil their constitutional responsibilities
Beyond this, nation-wide public hearings on the Expropriation Bill continue this week (20-23 May). Hearings will take place in KwaZulu-Natal. This is the fifth provincial stop. Follow here
There is plenty of other legislative business on the agenda as MPs deliberate, finalise and get briefings of the following bills: Appropriation Bill; Financial Sector Laws Amendment Bill; Liquor Products Amendment Bill; National Health Insurance (NHI) Bill; Children’s Amendment Bill National Forest Amendment Bill; Pension Funds Amendment Bill and Division of Revenue Bill.
There is a lot of significant action in the Committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:
Tuesday, 18 May 2021
Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs, (National Assembly), [Briefing by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) on the annual report and financial statements for 2019-2020], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:00-12:00
Portfolio Committee on Environment, Forestry and Fisheries, (National Assembly), [Briefing by ESKOM on their non-compliance with environmental laws], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-11:30
Select Committee on Finance, (National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by IRBA on: Implications of changes in IRBA over the past 6 months; On implementation of the amendments to the Act; On their last quarterly report], Virtual Meeting Platform, 14:00
Wednesday, 19 May 2021
Standing Committee on Public Accounts, (National Assembly), [Hearing on the annual report and financial statements of the Compensation Fund (CF), for the financial year 2019/20, as well as irregular, fruitless and wasteful expenditure], Virtual Meeting Platform, 09:30-13:00
Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans, (National Assembly), [Briefing by DMV on progress regarding amendments to the Military Veterans Act and Military Veterans Benefit Regulations; Briefing by SITA on its support to DMV in its efforts to cleanse the National Military Veterans’ Database; Briefing on progress of the Presidential Task Team on Military Veterans; Consideration and adoption of minutes of previous meeting], Virtual Meeting Platform, 10:00-13:00
Friday, 21 May 2021
Joint Standing Committee on the Financial Management of Parliament, (National Assembly and National Council of Provinces), [Briefing by the Executive Authority and the Minister of Finance on progress made as far as addressing concerns about the allocation of Parliament’s budget (including a briefing by the Chairperson of the Parmed Board on progress made in resolving the issues around the Parmed liability); Consideration of committee minutes and reports], Virtual Meeting Platform, 12:15
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 full schedule 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.