Copyright & National Credit Amendment Bills: Subcommittee reports; Committee Report on Sugar Industry oversight

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Trade and Industry

13 March 2018
Chairperson: Ms J Fubbs (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

Committee Reports available once adopted

The Portfolio Committee approved the additional nominees for the Copyright Amendment Bill technical panel and changes to its terms of reference and draft programme. The nominees are:
• Adv Joel Baloyi – nominated
• Ms Michele Woods – nominated
• Adv Ntsietso Mokitimi-Makhafola – nominated
• Mr Wiseman Ngubo – nominated
• Mr Thabang Mathibe – nominated
• Mr Andre Myburgh – already appointed
• Adv Natasha Pather – already appointed

In its progress report, the Subcommittee on the 'Debt Relief' National Credit Amendment Committee Bill was trying to reach common ground on:
• Whether assets should be a factor in consideration of the financial status of people applying for debt relief. There is an argument that the asset component should be struck out of the Bill completely. He suggested that this be removed because it is going to be difficult for people to prove this.
• The debt mechanism process will be difficult and long with a lot of people involved. The question was whether the Bill should provide for a once-off or perpetual debt relief mechanism.
• Retrospectivity of the Bill was considered to be quite complicated. It was confusing and more information needed to be furnished to the Subcommittee, particularly on how it is going to be implemented. It was important for people know if the Bill was going to come into effect as soon as the President signed the Bill.
• Should the role of credit providers within the process be implied or made for explicit? Recommendations clearly outlined that this needs to be made clearer. It must be part of the explicit guidelines of the process.
• The arbitrary nature of the figures R7 500 and R50 000 which the legal opinion talked about. The R7 500 might be moved down to R5 500 based on the recommendations of the Debt Busters because that is the lowest salary band it would deal with. On the R50 000 figure, the Committee needs to come up with the rationale for why the Committee proposed that specific figure, or any figure.
• The powers given to the Minister, there was no consensus on this. The recommendation was to remove it completely – the Committee should still discuss this.
• What needs to be done about loan sharks, should they be criminalised or allowed to run scot free?
Fundamentally, the Subcommittee is very close to getting consensus on many items but on some of them no consensus was reached due to their arbitrary nature.  

The Committee considered its Committee Report on Sugar Industry oversight but the report was not adopted. It suggested that the Department peruse the Committee Report carefully and prepare responses in writing on some of the issues raised in the report.

Meeting report

Opening remarks
The Chairperson lamented that Members need to refrain from the use of their gadgets during Committee meeting. Members do not apply their minds during meetings. It is not acceptable for legislators to conduct themselves in such a manner. Members also need to observe the rules on attendance and how many meetings Members can miss. She indicated that the Committee will be receiving and welcoming a new Member who is the former Minister of State Security, Mr David Mahlobo.

Copyright Amendment Bill Subcommittee progress report
Ms L Theko (ANC), Subcommittee Chairperson, said the Subcommittee convened last week to adopt its programme as well as the terms of reference. The Subcommittee was briefed on the Farlam Copyright Review Commission recommendations by the Department. It considered additional candidates for appointment to the technical panel which should consist of five members. She presented a list of seven names, two of whom had already been approved, for the Portfolio Committee’s approval. The Subcommittee programme was submitted to the Committee. There are groupings which will guide the Subcommittee in its engagement The first group will focus on policy hence the meeting on the Farlam Commission policy proposals with DTI. The Subcommittee discussed the invitation to a TV dialogue and it agreed to attend the dialogue. The Subcommittee will be meeting again tomorrow and a report will be furnished to the Committee.

The Chairperson noted there were slight changes in the terms of reference of the Subcommittee, already adopted by the Committee. So, if changes have been made, they need to be brought to the full Committee for consideration and adoption. Therefore, it may be pertinent to highlight the changes made.

Ms Theko said the Subcommittee requested the Committee to adopt the programme. The policy areas to be focused on by group one were:
• Fair use versus fair dealings
• Exceptions and limitations
• Accessibility for people with disabilities
• Parallel importation
• Freedom of panorama
• Regulation of collecting societies; and
• Ownership
For the second and third group, the focus will be on those areas where consensus is not reached by the Subcommittee.

Ms S van Schalkwyk (ANC) suggested that before looking at the programme, the Committee needs to first consider the terms of reference.

Ms Margot Sheldon, Content Advisor, stated that the scope of the terms of reference was still the same, the only additions were the names of the nominated members of the technical team, elaborated on the scope of the Subcommittee and added the groups that Ms Theko advised on, as well as the draft programme. Those were the three key issues amended.

Ms van Schalkwyk stated that looking at the proposals for the terms of reference, there were substantive amendments on the policy areas or the scope. Thus, she suggested the Members move for the adoption.

The Committee adopted the amended terms of reference, the additional proposed names for the technical panel and draft programme.

In its briefing, the Subcommittee on the 'Debt Relief' National Credit Amendment Committee Bill had not reached consensus on the following:
• Whether assets should be a factor in consideration of the financial status of people applying for debt relief.

'Debt Relief' National Credit Amendment Bill Subcommittee progress report
Mr A Williams (ANC), Subcommittee Chairperson, spoke on items where the Subcommittee was trying to reach common ground:
• Whether assets should be a factor in consideration of the financial status of people applying for debt relief. There is an argument that the asset component should be struck out of the Bill completely. He suggested that this be removed because it is going to be difficult for people to prove this.
• The debt mechanism process will be difficult and long with a lot of people involved. The question was whether the Bill should provide for a once-off or perpetual debt relief mechanism.
• Retrospectivity of the Bill was considered to be quite complicated. It was confusing and more information needed to be furnished to the Subcommittee, particularly on how it is going to be implemented. It was important for people know if the Bill was going to come into effect as soon as the President signed the Bill.
• Should the role of credit providers within the process be implied or made for explicit? Recommendations clearly outlined that this needs to be made clearer. It must be part of the explicit guidelines of the process.
• The arbitrary nature of the figures R7 500 and R50 000 which the legal opinion talked about. The R7 500 might be moved down to R5 500 based on the recommendations of the Debt Busters because that is the lowest salary band Debt Busters would deal with. On the R50 000 figure, the Committee needs to come up with the rationale for why the Committee proposed that specific figure, or any figure.
• The powers given to the Minister, there was no consensus on this. The recommendation was to remove it completely – the Committee should still discuss this.
• What needs to be done about loan sharks, should they be criminalised or allowed to run scot free?
Fundamentally, the Subcommittee is very close to getting consensus on many items but on some of them no consensus was reached due to their arbitrary nature.

The Chairperson stated that criminalization was raised several times quite strongly during discussions and the submissions. However, there was no consensus on which stance to take going forward. Secondly, the asset amount also came up. It was taken from the original Magistrates Act but the figure in that Act was R2 500 and so it was updated to R5 000.

Ms P Mantashe (ANC) stated that the DTI wanted the powers of the National Credit Regulator (NCR) to be re-looked at but the Subcommittee did not agree to this.

Mr S Mbuyane (ANC) asked about credit providers, such as government institutions – there were challenges about government debt being left out of the process. This needed to be re-looked at and considered. In addition, mortgage bonds were not addressed by the Bill.

Committee Report on Sugar Cane Farmer and Sugar Industry Associations oversight visit
The Chairperson asked Members focus on substantive issues in the report of their oversight visit to KZN from 25 to 26 January 2018.

Under Conclusions or Recommendations by the Committee, she stated that some of the sugar mills were inoperational. Developed farmers had irrigation set up and fully operational, but this was not the case for emerging farmers; in fact, they are struggling with water and operate without irrigation systems. However, it was later discovered that the water was not intended for irrigation as such but in the event of fire. She wanted to know why was there such a discrepancy between emerging farmers and the white farmers who had all the equipment in place, and whether the DTI had any plans to change this.

Ms Ncumisa Ntlawuli, DTI Chief Director: Agro-processing, replied that the state of irrigation infrastructure for black farmers versus the developed white farmers was enormously variant, but the DTI is now working with the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to address irrigation under the Comprehensive Agricultural Support Programme for emerging farmers. Drought has indeed affected the country and the agricultural sector. A Committee has been set up to look at drought relief interventions; hopefully this would be addressed decisively by that Committee. It is one of the key focus areas of the department as well as water rights, which is a big challenge currently being addressed by the Department of Water and Sanitation. DTI has set up a task team together with DAFF to address the closed or rather inoperational sugar mills. DTI has engaged with the South African Sugar Association to produce a report on the closed mills. Some of the mills closed down ten years ago, and the state of infrastructure has dilapidated. The task team is going to look at those closed mills but alternatives were being explored by the DTI and DAFF to revive them and give small scale farmers shares in some of the mills that are operational.

Ms Mantashe stated that during the oversight visit, she appealed to the DTI to include road infrastructure for black farmers in the areas where road infrastructure is not up to standard because black farmers lacked transportation services to take their products to the mills due to the lack of road infrastructure.

Mr Williams suggested that the DTI needed to peruse the oversight report and return to the Committee to report on its action plan to address the concerns raised by the Committee

Ms van Schalkwyk was concerned about systems at the mills and how preference was given to the large commercial farmers. This leads to them losing the quality of their crops that are degrading. Another concern was the seedlings harvested on other farmer’s farms and sold to the small scale farmers. She recommended that they should also consider harvesting those seedlings on the small scale farmers’ farms to ensure that the small scale farmers also benefit from the system of harvesting of seedlings.

Adv A Alberts (FF+) indicated that the anti-sugar lobby wants to push out fructose from growing, and one of the problems that farmers are facing was the lack of access to alternative markets. He asked DTI to look into this and investigate alternative markets because there are potential investors who wish to invest in that.

Ms Mantashe suggested that Members consider the recommendation to hold a joint meeting with the Portfolio Committee on Economic Development to consider the tariff imports faced by the sector.

The Chairperson stated that the cost of transport in agriculture and manufacturing has often been raised, but this is must be dealt with jointly with the Department of Transport. The sugar cane industry is under considerable threat and they had asked the Committee to support the tariff, given the sugar tax now imposed on sugary beverages and sweets by the Minister of Health, and quite rightly so. However, the Committee needs to find a balance about the economic impact of this legislation. She has told the industry players that it wants to help but the industry needs to be transformed as well so that it is a win-win situation. The Committee also made it clear that it needs to engage with DAFF because it cannot do these things in isolation.

Ms Mantashe asked at what point the associations would be contacted to report back on the progress the Committee has made thus far on the issues raised during the oversight visit.

The Chairperson agreed with Ms Mantashe and asked Members to consider the Committee programme for this to happen.

Members suggested that DTI peruse the Committee Report carefully and prepare responses in writing on some of the issues raised in the report.

The minutes dated 14 February, 28 February and 6 March 2018 were adopted

The meeting was adjourned.
 

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