The Committee adopted the Committee Reports on 2014 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement & Adjustments Appropriation Bill. It discussed its 2015 First Term programme which would be dominated by hearings on the 2015/16 Budget.
The Chairperson noted that the Committee had wanted a debate on these reports, but there might not be time for that.
Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) added that it currently seemed as though there would be no debate, only a declaration. He had written to enquire the day before, to state that the Committee wanted a debate. He had not yet been informed if there would be any change of approach.
The Chairperson said that there was agreement as a Committee that there had to be a debate. But it was up to the leadership to decide. Members were advised to be prepared for a debate. If there was no debate, there would be declarations.
Committee Report on Adjustments Appropriation Bill
Mr Tshepo Mosoeu, Committee Content Adviser, noted that Members had emphasised certain matters the day before, which had been worked into the second draft.
Members agreed to the changes made, with only minor changes to phrasing suggested.
The Chairperson said that the House would be asked to consider and adopt the report without amendment. Parties could agree or disagree with the Committee Report in the House.
The Committee adopted the report.
The Chairperson said that the House would be asked to adopt the Adjustments Appropriation Bill.
Committee Report on 2014 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
The Chairperson said the National Assembly would be asked to consider MTBPS which was a statement of known facts. The Chief Whip would move for the House to consider and adopt it. The MTBPS represented the fiscal framework. The Committee had restated the inputs from its hearings, which started on page 8.
Mr Mosoeu noted that the concerns expressed about the quintile system excluding learners in urban areas from the nutrition programme, had been worked into the second draft under 4.11.
The Chairperson said that the budget review process would deal with issues such as nutrition. He pointed out that the Committee emphasis on upscaling investment into the National Student Fund Assistance Scheme (NSFAS) was now included under 4.13. There had to be more funds for student bursaries.
Mr A McLaughlin (DA) asked if concern about the high rate of fraudulent claims in the NSFAS was captured.
The Chairperson suggested that the report state that the Committee supported a process to put control measures in place.
Mr Mosoeu pointed out that a new recommendation about the quintile system and school nutrition had been added, as 5.1.6. The recommendation stated that National Treasury had to consult with the Department of Basic Education to assess the effectiveness of the quintile system to ensure that qualifying beneficiaries for the school nutrition programme were adequately catered for.
The Committee adopted the report.
The Chairperson reiterated that the House would be asked to consider the report. The Select Committee Finance did not want a debate. There could be debate, though it was not certain. Members were advised to be prepared for a debate. If there was one, it would be a 90 minute debate.
Committee 1st term programme for 2015
The Chairperson said that adjustments could still be made to the programme. A visit to the Eastern Cape was currently planned to be from 27 to 30 January 2015.
Mr McLaughlin noted that due to a 28 January by-election, some Members would not be available for oversight at that time.
The Chairperson suggested that it could be moved to the following week, if there was broad agreement. Dates could be tweaked later on.
Mr Gcwabaza referred to the possibility of joint meetings with other Committees. The Economic Development Portfolio Committee would want to raise some issues. There had to be a meeting early in the year to prepare for the budget.
The Chairperson responded that such meetings would only be possible after the processing of the budget. There had to be more concern with implementation and monitoring. The budget could not be influenced during January and February. Committee influence could only be visible when it was factored into the next adjustment budget. Submissions would be heard and Annual Performance Plans (APPs) considered.
Mr Mosoeu suggested that the Committee meet early in the following year, to reflect on the budget internally. Ideally that had to happen before the next budget.
The Chairperson said that a visit to National Treasury had been planned for the current year. Treasury was excited about it, but it would have to wait for the following year, until after the budget. Treasury was extremely busy during January and February. There was an intention to also visit the Reserve Bank. There was the possibility of an overseas visit in 2015 to look at best practice. But there were cost containment measures, which placed limitations on travel.
Mr Phelelani Dlamu, Committee Researcher, said that the Committee researchers had done some groundwork on the study tour. It was suggested that advanced systems be looked at, of which Sweden, Norway and Germany were examples.
Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) asked if he could speak to the researchers.
The Chairperson responded that Mr Kwankwa had to talk to the Chairperson. He did not want to later see anything in the Committee Reports that he had not seen before. As Chairperson, he was the one who had to account for the reports. The reports captured what was factual.
Mr Musa Zamisa, Committee Researcher, said that the researchers would submit names of municipalities that could be visited for oversight of the water project. There were also schools identified for visits for oversight of water and education in the Eastern Cape.
Adoption of minutes
Minutes of 11, 12 and 18 November were adopted as a true reflection of the meetings.
The Chairperson adjourned the meeting.
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