Committee Reports on 2016 MTBPS, Adjustment Appropriation Bill & Finance Bill

Standing Committee on Appropriations

05 December 2016
Chairperson: Ms Y Phosa
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Meeting Summary

Documents handed out:
Report on the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
Report on the 2016 Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B16-2016]
Report on the Finance Bill [B21-2016]
[All Committee Reports available under Tabled Committee Reports once published]

Relevant Documents:
Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act 9 of 2009
Medium Term Budget Policy Statement of 26 October 2016
Public Finance Management Act 29 of 1999
Constitution of the Republic of South Africa, 1996

The Committee considered and adopted the draft reports of the Standing Committee on the 2016 Adjustments Appropriation Bill, the 2016 Finance Bill and the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), with minor amendments.

Members expressed concern at the absence of the National Treasury (NT), without apology, from the meeting as they needed assistance from the NT to ensure the report on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill was a true reflection of the Committee’s engagement with it. The DA then submitted that the report should not be adopted, but be subjected to amendment due to the fact that R200 000 had been donated to the Progressive Youth Alliance without approval of the relevant Committee. According to the Treasury Regulations, accounting officers could approve gifts, donations and sponsorships of state money and other movable property in the interest of the state, provided that the amounts were below R100 000. When they exceeded R100 000, the approval of the Committee had to be sought. Given that the Department of Trade and Industry had donated R200 000 without approval of the Committee, the DA submitted that the Committee should not consider the report for adoption unless further information was obtained. After a vote, the report was adopted.

The Committee also considered the minutes of four recent meetings, which were adopted with minor amendments. 

Meeting report

Opening comments
The Chairperson said the reports were needed to be considered for adoption and tabling to the National Assembly. Both the Finance Bill and the Adjustments Appropriation Bill had been sent out for public comments and Members had heard oral submissions from those who had submitted their comments on the Bills. Accordingly, a number of stakeholders had been engaged in the drafting of the Bills in order to get their views and inputs. The Bills had gone through a number of processes, but Members had to finalise them to be sent to other structures for consideration, so all reports would be considered page by page with a particular focus on the content.

Mr D Maynier (ANC) drew Members’ attention to the DA’s submission on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill, which it had circulated among Members, and expressed the party’s desire to submit it orally.

Ms E Louw (EFF) said that it had been agreed that no further submission from a political party would be allowed. Only an individual’s point of view could be submitted.

Dr C Madlopha (ANC) said that the Committee should proceed with its agenda as it had been proposed. Mr Maynier should state his inputs as the consideration of the report progressed.

Ms M Manana (ANC) seconded Dr Madlopha.

The Chairperson suggested that Members should consider the report first and Mr Maynier should be given a chance to make a submission after the report had been considered page by page.

The Members agreed.

Report on 2016 Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B16-2016]
The Chairperson said that the Committee, having received a briefing from the National Treasury and engaged with identified departments on the 2016 Adjustments Appropriation Bill (AAB), had established the draft report under consideration.

Members considered the draft report page by page, and amendments in the form of correction of figures and grammatical errors were effected.

Mr A McLoughlin (DA) said that there was a need to double check figures to ensure that they were accurate. Members needed assistance from the National Treasury to ensure the report was a true reflection of the engagement with the National Treasury.  

The Chairperson agreed.  She sought clarity on why the National Treasurer was not present to guide Members on matters related to the allocation of money or its expenditure. The National Treasurer was needed to clarify figures.

Mr Thembikile Plaatjie, Parliamentary Liaison: National Treasury, apologised on the behalf of the National Treasurer and said that the National Treasury was not present because of other commitments.

Ms Manana commented that the National Treasury was not taking the Committee seriously. It had become its tendency to ignore the Committee’s meetings, despite of its presence being a prerequisite.

Mr N Gcwabaza (ANC) agreed. He said that the figures in the report could not be changed without the guidance of the National Treasurer.

The Chairperson said that there were mistakes with respect to amounts. The National Treasury was supposed to bring along a report containing accurate information in order to compare figures. This was so important that the Committee would draft a letter to be sent to the National Treasury to express its dissatisfaction about the conduct of the National Treasury towards the Committee. 

Mr M Figg (DA) said that the Committee should consider the report, but a note of disclaimer should be included in the report stating that the National Treasury had been invited but was absent without an apology. For that reason, the figures were subject to verification.

Ms DZ Sonokoanyane (ANC) agreed with Mr Figg.

Mr Plaatjie suggested that the Committee should continue with adoption of the report, and said that he would liaise with the office of National Treasury to see whether the figures had been captured correctly.

After consideration of the report page by page, the Chairperson asked Members to comment on the report.

With regard to Vote 34: Trade and Industry, Mr Maynier submitted that it was not clearly explained why R200 000 was donated to the Progressive Youth Alliance. According to the Treasury Regulations, the accounting officer could approve gifts, donations and sponsorships of state money and other movable property in the interest of the state, provided that amounts were below R100 000. When the cash amounts exceeded R100 000, the approval of the Committee ought to be sought. Given that the Department of Trade and Industry had donated R200 000 without approval of the Committee, the Committee should not consider the report for adoption unless Members decided on how to deal with that problem. 

Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) said that the report ought to be scrutinised thoroughly by the Committee. There was not enough time to do so. Therefore, he raised a motion that Members should not go ahead and adopt the report. It was clear that more information was needed from the National Treasury in order to have an accurate report.

Dr Madlopha, referring to the Maynier’s comment, said that the report talked about compliance with legislation and that accounting officers ought to be accountable for their actions. Referring to Mr Shaik Emam’s comments, she said that the decision to approve the report should be based largely on the Committee’s recommendations.

Ms Louw felt that Members did not have insightful information on which to base adoption of the report, and therefore the adoption should be postponed.

Mr Gcwabaza said it would be doing an injustice to the report if Members did not adopt it. He thanked Mr Maynier for raising the question of overspending, or unauthorised expenditure. In the event of unauthorised expenditure, it was a norm that money should be returned or disciplinary measures should be taken. There was nothing to worry about. If Members agreed to his point of view, they should move to adopt. He commented that the report contained contradictions. There was wasteful expenditure which the National Treasury had stated had been spent on what had been budgeted for.

Ms S Shope-Sithole (ANC) seconded Mr Gcwabaza.

Mr Figg said that the Committee should follow its rules.

The Chairperson said that Members should not argue on the basis of emotions or political differences, but should rather engage in a constructive and collective way.  

Mr Maynier said that the report ought to be amended materially. It could not be adopted as it was.  The Committee should immediately inform the Minister of Finance of their decision, and the Minister should respond to the Committee within 24 hours.

Mr Gcwabaza disagreed. He said that the money that was either overspent or unauthorised could be condoned.

The Chairperson said that the donation that went over R100 000 should captured in the report under findings, because the Committee did not know why such money had been donated. The Committee was not aware of the circumstances surrounding the donation.

Adv Frank Jenkins, Senior Legal Advisor, said that there should be a reason why the money was condoned. The Committee could not assume that money would be condoned. Rather, the Committee should consult other briefs to other committees, to ascertain why the money was donated.

The Chairperson said that she would liaise with the Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) to ascertain circumstances around the donation of more than R100 000. The Committee would need a report from Auditor General as well. What was clear was that the virements were approved or authorised by accounting officers. She would be writing to the accounting officer to find out what happened.

Mr Maynier stated that the report should be rejected, and thus be subjected to amendment. 

Due to the protracted arguments, Mr Figg proposed that deliberation on the issue raised by Maynier should be decided on basis of votes. Members should vote for adoption of the report as it was, or for amending the report. 

The Chairperson remarked that voting was unnecessary, but she agreed that Members should vote by raising their hands.

Mr Figg, Mr Maynier and Mr McLoughlin voted for the amendment of report.

Mr Gcwabaza, Ms Shope-Sithole, Dr Madlopha, Ms Senokoanyane and Ms Ndongeni voted for the adoption of the report.

Ms Louw and Mr Shaik Emam abstained.

The Chairperson said that the 2016 draft report on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill would not be amended. Members should therefore move to the adoption of the report.

Mr Figg stated that the DA was placing on record its submission that it did not support the report.

The Chairperson noted this, and declared the report adopted despite the DA’s objection.   

Report on the Finance Bill [B21-2016]
The Chairperson said that the report would be considered page by page. Figures were considered to make sure that they were correct.
 
Members moved the adoption of the Bill, with minor amendments.

Report on the 2016 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS)
The chairperson said that the report would be considered page by page.

Members moved the adoption of the MTBPS with minor amendments.

Adoption of minutes
The minute of 29 November, 30 November, 1 December 2016 and 2 December 2016 were considered and adopted, with minor amendments where applicable.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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