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JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
23 October 2002
FINALISING TERMS OF REFERENCE BY WORKING GROUP
Acting Chairperson: Dr Frene Ginwala (ANC)
Terms of Reference draft (See Appendix 1)
As tabled on 29 October 2002:
Adjusted Estimates of National Expenditure 2002
Medium Term Budget Policy Statement 2002
All the major parties nominated representatives to the working group. The working group discussed terms of reference for the Joint Budget Committee.
The Speaker told the Committee that they are there to decide what the Joint Budget Committee should do. She said that in her view, as presiding officer, there are some main elements that need to be looked at. The two budget documents will be tabled by the Minister next week. They need to be referred and this committee needs to do that. The committee also needs to look at how parliament will be involved in developing budgets. Divisions have to be drawn between this committee and the Finance Portfolio Committee’s involvement in the budget process.
Mr Nel (ANC) familiarised the committee with the draft Terms of Reference.
The Chair asked whether there is agreement on the main areas as set out in points (a), (b), (d) and (e) in the draft.
Dr Woods (IFP) asked whether there is clarity on the division of responsibilities between the Finance Portfolio Committee and SCOPA (Standing Committee on Public Accounts).
Mr Nel answered that those issues involving macroeconomic policy and outlook, fiscal framework and revenue collection are areas of expertise for the Finance Committee. Points (d) and (e) spell out what the Budget Committee should do.
Dr Woods asked if that means this is mostly an oversight committee. He wanted to know if the budget process would be part of the brief and also if this committee is going to question the executive government on why they allocated what to whom.
Dr Ginwala said that her understanding is that this committee does not look at the budget. They do however look at the Medium Term Expenditure Framework and the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. She asked Mr Nel for more clarity on this issue.
Mr Nel said that this draft is a minimalist approach and that this is a process of learning as they go along and a lot of the questions will be answered in practice and in reports this committee will give Parliament from time to time. The first priority is setting up this committee and starting to work.
The chairperson commented that the finance committee has a responsibility to the budget. They receive it seven days before it is published, but are not allowed to comment before the seven days are over. She then asked whether this function would remain with the Finance Committee.
Dr Woods told her that he is a member of the Finance Committee and that they have enough work. He supported taking away that function.
Dr Ginwala then said that they need more clarity on the policy issues concerned. She then reconvened to give time for clarity to be reached.
Postscript: It was later accepted by the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces that the Joint Budget Committee, representing both houses of parliament, would hold hearings and discussions on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. The committee has to look at whether the allocations made are in keeping with the government’s policy to monitor actual revenues and expenditures of all departments.
The Finance Portfolio Committee will be tasked with the macroeconomic and revenue issues in both the Appropriation Bill and the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
TERMS OF REFERENCE FOR JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
1. Composition: The Committee to consist of:
(a) 15 Assembly members of whom 9 must be from the majority party and 6 from the opposition parties; and
(b) 8 Council members of whom 5 must be from the majority party and 3 from the opposition parties.
2. Functions: The committee to:
(a) Consider proposed allocations in the Medium- Term Expenditure Framework and the Appropriation Bill and whether these allocations are broadly in keeping with the policy directions of government;
(b) Make proposals regarding the processes in Parliament should follow with regard to its role in the developing of budgets in accordance with constitutional requirements.
(c) On a regular basis monitor monthly published actual revenue and expenditure +per department, and to ascertain whether they are in line with current MTEF projections;
(d) Consider, when tabled the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, with the exception of those sections dealing with the macro-economic situation and revenue;
(e) Conduct hearings on the Medium-Term Expenditure Framework and Division of Revenue Bill, with the exception of those sections dealing with the macroeconomic situation and revenue;
3. Powers: The Committee to exercise those powers in Joint Rule 32 that may assist it in carrying out its functions.
4. Reports: The Committee to report:
(a) X period before the debate on the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement regarding the matters referred to in paragraph 2 (d);
(b) X period before Second Reading Debate on the Appropriation Bill on the matters referred to in paragraphs 2 (a) and (e);
(c) Quarterly regarding the matters referred to in paragraph 2 (c).
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