The Standing Committee met to consider the Draft Report on the Division of Revenue Bill. The Bill was read out by the Committee’s Content Advisor and members gave their inputs which generally related to grammatical corrections, observations, recommendations and reminders of aspects which were covered but not contained in the report.
The only substantive matter which was discussed was the decision of the Committee to state in its report that there was a problem of the coordination of grants. Government departments, provinces and municipalities had to align their budgets to these grants and there was the need to ensure a holistic approach in the distribution and utilization of the various grants.
The Committee suspended its deliberations to allow Members to take part in a House sitting. The consideration of the recommendations of the Committee which were contained in the report was postponed to the next day.
Introduction by Chairperson
The Chairperson welcomed Members of the Committee and the officials present at the meeting. The purpose of the meeting was for the Committee to look at the draft report on the Division of Revenue Bill. There was an input from the Financial and Fiscal Commission on the Rural Household Infrastructure Grant (RHIG).
Consideration of Draft Report on the Division of Revenue Bill
On the proposal of the Chairperson, Mr Tshepo Masoeu, the Content Adviser to the Committee, read through the draft report.
Mr N Singh (IFP) asked for clarity on the statement that the National Development Plan (NDP) would shape resource allocation for the next two decades but would not determine annual budgets. This was not absolutely true as the NDP was going to inform national budgets. There was bound to be alignment between the NDP and the various government departments and their programmes and budgets.
The Chairperson said that Mr Singh was quite right as that correction had been raised with Mr Masoeu. If the NDP did not inform annual budgets, the whole idea of the NDP was going to be a contradiction to itself.
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) said that it was important for the report to be consistent in writing the National Development Plan in capital letters.
Mr L Ramatlakane (COPE) suggested some grammatical changes to the paragraph relating to local share of the nationally raised revenue.
Mr Singh said that it was not appropriate for a sentence in a report to start with the word “Excluding”. He suggested that the sentence should be rephrased.
The Chairperson addressed the issue of the RHIG and said, it was important for the report to reflect that this had been changed from a Schedule 5 (b) grant to a Schedule 6 grant.
Ms Mashigo said that the changes in the report were supposed to be a reflection of the changes in the Bill.
The Chairperson said that at a later stage of the deliberations, the Committee was going to call on the opinion of Adv Frank Jenkins of the Parliamentary Legal Services.
Mr G Snell (ANC) said that since the Committee still had a long portion of the draft report to cover, it could first listen to the opinion from Adv Jenkins before it continued with the page by page consideration of the report.
The Chairperson said that the Committee could do the findings and recommendation of the draft report. The Committee had not applied to be away from the plenary sitting in the House which was holding that afternoon but it had to finish the consideration of the draft report. The intention was to have the corrected and updated version of the report returned to the Committee by the next day.
On the proposal of the Chairperson, the Committee proceeded to consider the findings and observations which were contained in the report.
Mr Ramatlakane said that the questions of linking grants was part and parcel of the bigger problem of the lack of coordination between the grants actually intended to provide decent human conditions and other settlement grants. The issue was around coordination. It was important that the report captured this issue.
Mr Snell said that the coordination of grants was a complex issue. The Committee had to look at the possibility of ensuring that the various spheres of government aligned their budgets to the various grants.
Ms Mashigo said that the report could state that the Committee noted the poor coordination and integration between the various grants. A sentence of that nature was going to cover the issues related to the problems related to grants in the report.
The Chairperson said that the Committee did not want to completely change the form of the report but the intention was to include all the observations and recommendations.
Ms A Mfulo (ANC) said that it was important for the report to take a holistic approach which stated what was the observation of the Committee with regards to the departments and all the grants.
The Chairperson said that major problems identified in the report were going to be flagged.
The Chairperson suggested that Members could go to the House and excuse themselves from the sitting so that the Committee could complete the discussions on the recommendations contained in the report.
A Member said that it was not appropriate for the Committee to invite Adv Jenkins to keep him for the entire morning and have him listen to deliberations on grammatical corrections to a report. He said that he was not happy with what the Chairperson had done.
The Chairperson replied that he had spoken with Adv Jenkins earlier on and they had agreed on what to do. He did not inform the Members as he did not have to tell them every administrative move he made. He said that raising such a matter in the Committee, as the member had done was not good as there were many other ways in which such a matter could be discussed and addressed.
The Members accepted the Chairperson’s remarks and withdrew his comment.
Mr Singh said that what was left to be done was just contextual and not substantial issues. The Committee Researchers had understood what was required in the corrections and amendments. He suggested that the updated version be passed in the meeting which the Committee was going to have the next day.
The Chairperson asked if the Committee could defer the remainder of the work to the next day’s meeting or the Committee could meet later that afternoon.
Ms Mashigo said that it was good for the rest of the work to be postponed to the next day as Members did not know how the debates in the House were going to be. It could take longer than they expected.
The Chairperson confirmed with the rest of the Members that the rest of the draft report be considered by the Committee the next day. He suggested that Members should go through the recommendations before the meeting so that the Committee would not have to spend a lot of time on the recommendations.
The meeting was adjourned.
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