A summary of this committee meeting is not yet available.
JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
3 June 2003
ROLE AND RESPONSIBILITIES: WORKSHOP
Co-chairpersons: Messrs N Nene (ANC) and T Ralane (ANC)
Documents handed out:
Role and Responsibilities of The Joint Budget Committee (PowerPoint Presentation)
Discussion at the workshop focused on the Committee's relationship with the Executive, Portfolio Committees, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and cluster committees. The Committee's powers as set down by the Constitution were also discussed.
Ms Alta Folscher, Principal Consultant of Mokoro Budget Consultancy, presented a conceptual framework for the Committee's role and responsibilities. This focused on the principles underpinning the Committee's Terms of Reference, key issues and challenges and the role of the cluster committees.
Dr G Woods (IFP) said that the Committee should not seek to usurp the powers of the Executive in the budget process but should rather add value to it in keeping with guidelines for oversight set down in the Public Finance Management Act (PFMA).
Mr R Baloyi (ANC) asked about the role of Parliament in the budget process in other countries. Perhaps the Committee could be guided by operational relationships in place between the Executive and Parliament elsewhere on budget processes? The work entailed was critical with particular implications for service delivery.
Mr M Nene (ANC) said that tensions between Parliament and the Executive should be avoided. Mutual co-operation was of utmost importance. Processes and programmes would evolve step by step, as would the roles of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and the cluster committees.
Ms Folscher referred to the budget process in Germany as one example the Committee might need to study. With the German model in mind, she was convinced that parliamentary participation in the budget process provided a useful counter-balance to the powers of the Executive.
Mr G Scheemann (ANC) endorsed the need for a gradual process to ensure that the final result would be sound.
Dr Woods said it was necessary to know where to draw the line regarding Parliament's powers in relation to the budget. The Constitution had already laid down the responsibilities of the Executive in this regard.
Ms Folscher said that the Committee's responsibility was to ensure value for money and effective service delivery. Its function should be constructive rather than destructive. The Committee should serve as the interface between the budget process and people on the ground.
Mr D Hanekom (ANC) reiterated the need for checks and balances
Mr L Kgwele (ANC) said the Committee should have the right to address inefficiencies by calling the Executive to account.
Mr Hanekom said that the Committee should be able to look into funding issues and frameworks emanating from White Papers and other policy and regulatory documents. Areas of concern should be reported and the Committee should call the Executive to account only as a last resort.
Mr Nene commented that interventions could only take place after the tabling of the budget. The Committee could only influence policy implementation and budget oversight.
Mr Hanekom observed that the Constitution did not appear to restrict the powers of the Committee to interventions on crisis issues only, as had been implied by Dr Woods. Was a cluster committee the same as a sectoral committee?
Mr Nene asked about the Committee's role regarding Money Bills in terms of the Constitution.
Ms Folscher suggested that these issues be raised with Heads of Department and Treasury. A cluster committee and a sectoral committee were one and the same thing.
Considerable discussion ensued on the Committee's relationship with Portfolio Committees and the NCOP.
The meeting was adjourned.
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