The Committee met to approve to a new amendment to the Public Audit Act. The new provision would provide for the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) and National Treasury (NT) to annually agree on the amount of audit fees that could be defrayed from Treasury.
In addition, the Committee approved the proposal to seek permission from Parliament to amend the Act, which was a requirement in terms of the Rules.
The Chairperson thanked the members for converging at short notice. He said after discussion the previous day with office bearers of Parliament regarding the meeting agenda, anything that reached the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) after Easter in 2018 would not get passed by Parliament.
The Chairperson indicated that the Committee was only meeting to deal with the minor amendments which had been effected in the document as it had discussed the rule at length. Only one bullet point had been added to the document
Review of the Public Audit Act: National Assembly Rule 237, seeking permission to proceed with amendments to the Public Audit Act, No 25 of 2004
Adv. Fatima Ebrahim, Legal advisor, Parliament, said the only change was the reference to issuing of the certificate. Additionally the rule would provide for the Auditor-General of South Africa (AGSA) and National Treasury (NT) to annually agree on the amount of audit fees that could be defrayed from NT. The AGSA Act currently allowed the AGSA to request NT to defray audit fees when auditees struggled to pay; what had been proposed hence forth was a percentage cap to those fees. NT would brief the Committee the following day on the rationale for that proposal. Capping the amount had the potential that AGSA would not be able to defray the entire balance owed and the Committee could apply its mind to that.
The Chairperson said the submission which NT would be presenting the following day had been circulated to the Committee and it was to circumvent Government taking Government to court. He was satisfied with the proposal. However; he wanted the Committee to consider that if NT wanted to circumvent the AGSA from taking local Government to court certainly Government Departments also had to be requested to do the same as they were litigating against AGSA as well.
The adoption during the meeting was only so that the Committee could request permission from Parliament to continue with its work. He asked for motions.
Ms D Carter (Cope) moved for the adoption of the proposal.
Mr A Mcloughlin (DA) seconded the motion.
The seeking of permission to proceed with amendments to the Public Audit Act, No 25 of 2004 by the Committee was adopted with no amendments.
The Committee then considered its programme for the following day and Friday, 24 November 2017.
After much debate some members of the Committee committed to availing themselves for the following day and on 24 November for the adoption of the report of the Committee on the National Assembly Rule 237, seeking permission to proceed with amendments to the Public Audit Act, No 25 of 2004.
The meeting was then adjourned.
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