Committee reports, Working Group visit to Gauteng, and fourth term programme

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Trade and Industry

20 September 2011
Chairperson: Ms J Fubbs (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Chairperson took exception to the Department of Trade and Industry's absence despite its earlier undertaking to attend.  An update on the  Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) was postponed.

The Committee adopted its report on Oversight visits to Gauteng and the Northern Cape and its report on the Revised Industrial Policy Action Plan (the Steel Report).

The Inkatha Freedom Party abstained on account of being unable to form an opinion whether the reports were a reflection of reality. The concerned Member was not present at the oversight visits to Gauteng and the Northern Cape.

Members argued that the Inkatha Freedom Party was represented in both the oversight visits and had never raised objections. The Members were worried that abstinence, by Members who had not taken part in the oversight visit in question, might set a precedent undesirable for the working relations of political parties in Parliament. The Parliamentary Legal Advisor said it was the party's choice to abstain and the abstention would be in order.

The Committee also provisionally approved a visit to Gauteng by four members of the Working Group to obtain an overview of gambling. However, approval was subject to confirmation by the Speaker's and the Chief Whip’s offices.

The Committee also amended and adopted its draft programme for the fourth term.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
 The Chairperson took exception to the apology of the Department of Trade and Industry (the DTI, the Department), received by short message service (SMS), despite its earlier undertaking to attend.  Such behaviour resulted in fruitless and wasteful expenditure, and inconvenience to the research staff. The update on the  Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR) would have to be postponed.

Committee draft report: Oversight visits to Gauteng and the Northern Cape

Minor adjustments were made and the report was adopted when the meeting formed a quorum.

 

Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)'s abstention
Dr M Oriani-Ambrosini (IFP) abstained and said he could not form an opinion on whether the report was the reflection of what took place. He was not part of the delegation that went to Gauteng and the Northern Cape.

 

Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) said that the IFP was represented on the visits by Ms P Lebenya (IFP). He failed to understand the abstention by Dr Oriani-Ambrosini.

 Dr Oriani-Ambrosini said he had never received a briefing from Ms Lebenya. He said he knew the stance he took was not desirable, but there was nothing he could do.

The Chairperson said it would be noted on the minutes that Members of the IFP did not consult with each other and that the Party had therefore abstained.

Mr X Mabasa (ANC) complained that the abstention did not make for good working relations among political parties and impacted negatively on the work of Parliament. He thought Members would have faith in other Members; that Dr Oriani-Ambrosini was not briefed was no reason for him to abstain. Adopting the report was not different from adopting minutes. The Committee would discuss an issue, where a certain Member was absent and yet that Member would vote to adopt the minutes. if this was copied by other Committees, it would be very cumbersome.

Mr Gcwabaza agreed and said Members should distinguish between the party and the individual Member. It was not as if there was a contentious issue in the report. The IFP was involved, and had been represented in the oversight visits. He cautioned the Committee not to entertain individual views in its deliberations. Otherwise all the Members would come with different views for the sake of it.

The Chairperson sought an opinion from the Parliamentary Legal Advisor on the abstention. The IFP was represented on a visit and had never raised an objection, and yet a Member of the IFP who had been absent had abstained. The Committee did not want to set a precedent, but wanted to conform to the rules.

 The Parliamentary Legal Advisor said it was the party's choice to abstain. As long as the abstention was included and noted in the minutes that it was the result of lack of consultation among Members of a particular party, that still counted as a vote, and could be noted as such. It would be in order.

Committee draft report: Revised Industrial Policy Action Plan (IPAP2) (the Steel Report)

This report was also adopted.

 

IFP's abstention

However, Dr Oriani-Ambrosini abstained again. His decision arose from reservations similar to those he had with the other report – on the oversight visit to Gauteng and the Northern Cape.

 

The Chairperson was not aware how many meetings Dr Oriani-Ambrosini had attended during the public hearings. She ordered that the abstention by the IFP and the reasons thereof be recorded in the minutes.

 

Working group visit to Gauteng
The Chairperson said that the Committee had drawn up a draft programme that needed to go to the House Chair for approval. She was hesitant to raise issues with the Committee as she was continually told it had changed.

Mr Gcwabaza interjected and told the Committee that the Working Group needed the Committee’s approval for its planned visit to Gauteng. He apologised for putting gambling, a matter that had already been taken off, back on the programme. The Working Group had observed in its meetings that, whilst it understood gambling broadly, some Members were not clear on the specifics, and there was a view that the Working Group had to see the practical side. All forms of gambling were taking place in Gauteng, so the province would be ideal to visit. In future the Working Group would have to deal with legislation, and would also have to decide if there was a need for amendments to the current legislation. Therefore the Working Group needed to understand the industry. Four Members formed the Working Group – Mr J Smalle (DA), Mr Gcwabaza, Ms C Kotsi (COPE) and Ms F Khumalo (ANC).

The Chairperson requested the Committee’s consent to put the item back on the agenda, and there were no objections. There needed to be a formal request in writing indicating why the Working Group wanted to make that oversight visit.

Dr Oriani-Ambrosini said gambling was uniform across the country and requested clarity on how gambling was any different in Gauteng from the Western Cape and elsewhere in the country. He felt Members needed to reduce cost wherever possible.

The Chairperson said it had been reported already that different forms of gambling were centrally located in Gauteng. This was not the case in the Western Cape. This was also confirmed by the Gamblers Association. It was on the basis of keeping the cost down that Gauteng was proposed. She said the oversight visit was on the Working Group’s minutes, but she had asked the Group to bring it to the Committee for finalisation. The oversight trip was agreed upon subject to the approval by the offices of the Speaker and the Chief Whip as the trip coincided with constituency time.

Draft programme for the fourth term
The Chairperson said there were concerns with regards to the programme. She said that, although she had looked at the programme closely, her concern was that she was not going to be around to see the term off. Also it would appear that the Committee might need to put Intellectual Property (IP) back on the agenda but it was not official. Another exigency that the Committee would have to take note off was the BRRR programme. The BRRR was easy, and could be dealt with as soon as the Department was contacted but on IP the Committee had to await an official position. She said that would be communicated to the Members. She invited Members to raise issues for addition to the programme.

Dr Oriani-Ambrosini said the programme needed to allow the Committee to deal with the finance sector. He said the banking and insurance industries were under the Committee’s mandate. The regulations of the banking system fell under trade and industry. He said society had problems with these institutions and time for public hearings was needed.

The Chairperson said it was neither the Chairperson’s nor the Committee Members' decision. The Committee operated under the Speaker, and would therefore have to approach the Chair of Chairs to get a clarification whether or not the proposal fell within the Committee’s mandate.

Dr Oriani-Ambrosini said the Committee defined its mandate and its programme. It was not for the Chair of Chairs to tell the Committee what to do.

The Chairperson said that the Standing Committee on Finance had a mandate to deal with the finance sector. She said that this Committee dealt with steel, wine and other industries because of IPAP2 that was assigned to the Committee. She would instruct the staff to write and seek clarification so that the mandate of the Standing Committee on Finance was not impinged upon.

Dr Oriani-Ambrosini said in developing the programme between now and the end of the year the Committee needed to give consideration to the direction the country was moving. All the deliberations the Committee had held last year were premised on economic policy but had not come to fruition. The Committee needed to engage itself again with those deliberations to enable the country to see that it was applying its mind to the plans. He said this might need to be done together with the Portfolio Committee for Economic Development.

Mr T Harris (DA) agreed and said it was necessary to take the deliberations seriously and analyse the interventions at the highest level. There was a risk, when the Committee focused on legislation and narrow oversight, that it could lose the bigger picture. He endorsed the proposal that the Committee look at the broad economic policy direction of the country and whether the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) interventions were proving effective.

The Chairperson said that the interventions by the DTI were within the Committee’s mandate. The priority was to get legislation on the table and ensure it was dealt with. It was something that needed to be looked at. The Committee Secretary should find out where and how such time could be made available. However, the Committee could not ask for extra time unless it considered legislation. It was vitally important for the Committee to consider the economic climate in South Africa especially since one of the objectives in IPAP2 was to create jobs.

The Chairperson said the Committee needed to propose a programme to the Chair of Chairs in order to book venues. She said DTI’s interventions on the economy needed to be noted on the draft programme.

Mr Harris said that the Committee also needed to invite the Department to give an update on the National Industrial Participation Programme. He said it was a good time for the Committee to consider the outcomes.

The Chairperson said that the department had made a brief sort of progress report in that regard, but there was some work that was outstanding. The Committee Secretary would see where that would be fit in into the draft programme. The Committee was trying to complete its work this year.

Mr Mabasa said that, next year, the Committee needed to consider amendment bills.

The Chairperson said the bills were not before the Committee. She asked the Secretary to note the issues  agreed  for inclusion in the programme and not those that required clarification.

The draft programme was adopted with amendments.

 

Committee minutes
The Committee adopted, with corrections, its minutes of 24 and 31 August, and 07 September 2011.

 

Clarity was sought from the Parliamentary Legal Advisor on the public domain issue as it pertained to the minutes of 17 August 2011.

Members proposed that the concerned sentence be rewritten, and that those minutes be verified against the parliamentary recording system (Hansard) before being tabled again.

The meeting was adjourned.

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