The Standing Committee on Finance met to vote on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Amendment Bill.
Members agreed to dispense with the current title and also agreed that the Bill be renamed Money Bills and Related Matters Bill.
The Money Bills and Related Matters Bill was adopted as amended. The DA reserved its position on the Bill.
Furthermore, the Committee considered the Report on the Money Bills and Related Matters Act.
The report’s recommendations were as follows:
- Further review of the Act to consider the following:
i. Establish whether a process for tabling and consideration of revenue Bills is required; and
ii. How to enhance meaningful public participation in the budget process.
The Report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the Money Bills and Related Matters Act was adopted. The DA reserved its position on the Report.
Lastly, the Committee would draft a statement to unanimously condemn the nature of Mr F Shivambu’s questioning of National Treasury Deputy Director-General (DDG), Mr Ismail Momoniat, at the previous day’s Committee meeting.
The Chairperson welcomed everyone and took the Committee through the draft Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Amendment Bill. He emphasised that the Committee’s priority within the limited timeframes was the processing of Bills. He noted typographical changes and that most of the amendments were straightforward.
Clause 15- Parliamentary Budget Office
Any information which the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) requires for the performance of its functions and which is available to an organ of state or to any institution that derives any funds from the National Revenue Fund, a Provincial Revenue Fund or a municipality, must on request, be supplied timeously and free of charge by that organ of state or institution to the Parliamentary Budget Office, unless they are prohibited in law from doing so.
Mr D Maynier (DA) commented on clause 15 of the Bill. Despite disagreements about the PBO, the clause was a strong point as he was aware that information was being withheld from the PBO. He asked what would happen if an institution does not furnish required information the timeously.
Adv Frank Jenkins, Parliamentary Legal Advisor, said this would be a non-compliance and administrative issue. Recourse could be sought by seeking explanations from the audit committee or the executive authority.
Ms T Tobias (ANC) said Parliament was empowered to demand any information from Treasury. Nothing stops the Committee from doing that. The PBO is an advisory council to Parliament and should be empowered.
Mr Maynier suggested the clause be strengthened by adding that departments withholding information from Treasury should be required to furnish reasons for such a refusal within a specific timeframe. The challenge has always been mute response from departments, which had to be addressed.
Adv Jenkins indicated that there had been two proposals to rename the Money Bills Amendment and Related Matters Act to either Budget and Revenue Bills Matters Act or Money Bills Matters Act.
The Chairperson said the Committee should agree to dispense with the current title as it was clumsy.
Members agreed that the Bill be renamed Money Bills and Related Matters Bill.
Adoption of the Bill
The Money Bills and Related Matters Bill was adopted as amended.
The DA reserved its position on the Bill.
Report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the Money Bills and Related Matters Amendment Act
The Chairperson indicated that the resolution of the Assembly constitutes permission for the Committee to develop and introduce a draft Bill as envisaged in rule 273 of the Rules of the National Assembly. The Committee consulted the JTM for advice on the classification of the Bill in compliance with paragraph (b) of rule 274(1). Parliament’s Legal Advisers recommended that the Bill be classified as a section 75 Bill. As envisaged in rule 276, the Committee published the Bill in the Government Gazette on 4 August 2017. Therefore, the Committee recommended as follows:
- A further review of the Act to consider the following:
i. establish whether a process for tabling and consideration of revenue Bills is required; and
ii. How to enhance meaningful public participation in the budget process.
The Report of the Standing Committee on Finance on the Money Bills and Related Matters Act was adopted.
The DA reserved its position on the Report.
Deliberations on Mr Shivambu’s comments on the previous day
The Chairperson said he had received a letter from Mr Maynier requesting the Committee to explore what further action would be taken in the parliamentary environment against Mr Shivambu for his outrageous attack on Mr Ismail Momoniat the previous day. It was not clear to Mr Maynier what further action could be taken but at the minimum the Committee should consider passing a resolution or issue a public statement condemning what took place. It is wrong for a Member to accuse some citizen out there for corruption without a right of reply. It is not fair play. Equally, the balance of power between a DDG and an MP is not equal. The Committee would therefore need to issue a public statement.
Mr Maynier agreed the Committee should issue a statement and the racial attack should be condemned unequivocally. Mr Shivambu, as a public representative who took an oath to uphold the constitution whose one of its founding values was non-racialism, should be held to a higher standard as he was in breach. Also, this was not his first attack on Mr Momoniat or any other member of the Executive. The statement should be on narrow grounds and should not equivocate.
Ms Tobias agreed and added that the statement should be consistent with the non-sexist and non-racist values espoused by the ANC. The Committee ought to condemn a situation whereby a Member makes a racial slur on anybody, and should set a clear precedent thereof. Parliament should not allow cases where racial remarks are made for whatever reason. On the allegations made by Mr Shivambu about the goings-on at Treasury, the Committee was not in a position to establish their veracity and could thus not comment on them. Any form of segregation should not be permissible and Members should be exemplary.
Mr N Nhleko (ANC) said the whole inquiry about the attendance of a particular DDG was hugely misplaced as the Committee has no role in departmental delegations. There was also a broader problem of public representatives taking pokes at public servants without any recourse. If there are any issues, each department has a political head which public representatives should deal with rather than confronting bureaucrats. This has been a continual problem. Parliament has got to develop adequate rules to keep Members in check because bureaucrats have no platform to respond to allegations levelled against them. However, although Mr Shivambu’s articulation was completely misplaced, there is validity in the broader societal grievance around issues of African leadership which had to be confronted. All efforts are made to undermine African leadership and that is a fact. He suggested the statement deal with the elements of Mr Shivambu’s misbehaviour but at the same time address general issues confronting society as aforesaid.
Ms D Mahlangu (ANC) said Members were abusing their rights and something had to be done about this. Rights go hand in hand with responsibilities.
The Chairperson appreciated the inputs and said there had to be clearer guidelines on the conduct of Members. He would draft a statement and send it to Members for perusal before forwarding it to the media.
The meeting was adjourned.
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