The Committee met to deliberate on the written submissions received on the Green Paper on National Planning. However, it was decided to postpone the deliberations to the following day as all the submissions had not been summarised as yet.
Members were concerned about following the appropriate Parliamentary process and devoted a lengthy discussion to the fact that the Committee was dealing with a Green Paper as opposed to a White Paper. This gave rise to yet more discussion - on whether the process thus far had been legal, and the separate roles of the legislature and the Executive. Members agreed to seek legal advice on this matter. They also agreed that the Speaker was the appropriate authority to consult on whether to extend the lifespan of the Committee.
The Chairperson noted that submissions had been flowing in up until the day before the meeting, making it impossible to collate, summarise and distribute a complete document to members beforehand. Only 11 of the 24 submissions had been summarised thus far. He therefore proposed that the researcher complete the remaining summaries overnight, before the Committee considers the submissions at the next meeting. He added that it may be necessary to consider whether oral presentations should be made.
Mr S Swart (ACDP) supported this proposal.
Mr N Singh (IFP) also supported the proposal. At the same time, he requested that all the important issues, according to their areas of focus, be included in the summary.
Mr M Gungubele (ANC) queried whether any questions had been set as a guideline for the submissions.
The Chairperson responded that no questions had been set.
The Chairperson indicated that the Ministry had also received submissions, making for a parallel process in the Committee as well as in the Ministry.
Mr Swart asked for clarity regarding the process.
Mr X Mabasa (ANC) argued that the process up until now had occurred within a context, and that this must be observed.
Mr M Gungubele (ANC) explained that normally a Green Paper was dealt with by the relevant government department. The document that was referred to Parliament was referred to as the White Paper and the Committee interacted and deliberated on a White Paper. He questioned whether the Committee should advance to the next step and advised that legal guidance was needed to clarify the steps in the process.
Mr Swart suggested consultation with the Parliamentary advisors concerning convention and the legal imperative.
Dr W James (DA) believed that the process that had been followed thus was legal.
Dr Alan Hirsch, Chief Economist: Policy Co-ordination and Advisory Services, Presidency, explained that the process was dependent on whether the Executive saw a need for a White Paper, and whether it would or would not require legislation. Some institutions did not operate under a statute. This would then present a situation where the Green Paper afforded the only opportunity for interaction in this way.
Mr Singh noted that the Committee had been given limited time to finalise its deliberations, and argued that this would not be sufficient.
It was agreed that the Speaker was the appropriate authority to consult on this matter.
Mr Gungubele proposed that the appropriate authority be consulted on the Parliamentary process, secondly that the legal aspect be cleared up, and thirdly that the information on Green Papers and White Papers be made available to the Committee.
Mr L Greyling (ID) said that the Committee should consider recommendations on institutional arrangements and the role of Parliament. He requested a copy of the source document used to quote “international experience”.
The Chairperson agreed that:
The report mentioned by Mr Greyling be handed out to Members;
He would consult with the Speaker on the Parliamentary process;
He would obtain clarity on the process from the Green Paper stage to the White Paper stage;
He would consider the impact of the process and forthcoming deliberations on the timeframe set.
He urged members to read all the documents in preparation for the next day’s deliberations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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