The Committee was briefed on the Money Bills and other Related Matters Act 2009. The Act has established Finance and Appropriation Committees in the two Houses, and the Act gives certain rules and regulations regarding composition of the Committees, the election of the Chairpersons, and the functions of the Committees.
The Committee expressed concern about the challenging of water management the country was facing. Members asked how the spheres of Government could work together because one often referred to inter-governmental relations, while the reality was that the spheres of government operated independently; what the Committee could do in terms of making a Budget recommendation in the light of the water crisis; and from the Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor if he had an example of a Committee that has previously recommended a shift of funds, and the response they received from the National Treasury.
The Committee was briefed on the Training by Parliament ICT on the My Parliament APP. The Committee heard that the My Parliament APP was an application that was available on Android and IOS Systems, and was aimed at capturing all the information with regard to individual Members of Parliament. This APP includes the schedule of the Member of Parliament who uses the APP; it also includes relevant personal information such as a photo of the Member as well as contact details, and all the information surrounding the specific Committees that the Member of Parliament is a part of.
Briefing on the Money Bills and other Related Matters Act 2009
Adv Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, took the Committee through the Money Bills and Related Matters Act. According to its preamble, the purposes of the Act stems from the Constitution which requires that:
- All spheres of government must not assume any power or function except those conferred on them in terms of the Constitution;
- They should exercise their powers and perform their functions in a manner that does not encroach on the geographical, functional or institutional integrity of government in another sphere;
- That only the Cabinet member responsible for national financial matters may introduce a money Bill or a Bill which provides for legislation envisaged in section 214 of the Constitution;
- That legislative authority of the national sphere of government is vested in Parliament; that an Act of Parliament must provide for a procedure to amend money Bills before Parliament; and
- That the purpose of amending money Bills is to give effect to resolutions on oversight of the National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces.
The Act has established Finance and Appropriation Committees in the two Houses, and the Act gives certain rules and regulations regarding composition of the Committees, the election of the Chairpersons, functions of the Committees in addition to those stipulated in this Act; consultation between the respective committees on finance of each House; and consultation between the respective committees on appropriations of each House’s other related matters. Before this Act came into operation, there was no way to amend money bills, the Minister was the only person that can make amendments to money bills and Parliament had oversight but could not make amendments.
The Parliamentary Budget Office gets their mandate from the Act, and assists the Finance and Appropriation Committees. This Office contains content specialists who will assist and provide advice on the effects of certain amendments.
Instruments which are regulated by the Act include firstly, the Finance Committee, which looks at the fiscal framework of Government. Secondly, the Appropriations Committee looks at the Appropriation Bill and the Supplementary Appropriations Bill. Another instrument regulated by this Act through the Finance and Appropriation Committees is the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement. This is a policy statement that takes a forward look at what the budget might look like in the next financial year. This Policy statement is divided into a three part Fiscal framework which projects what the economy will look like, expected revenue and projected expenditure.
Section 8(5) of the Act says that when you make a decision in terms of this Act, referring to any action, including the actions that a Committee may make, there needs to be compliance with certain requirements as provided by the Act in this section. In terms of section five of the Act, if a Portfolio Committee wants to affect change to the budget it must first identify the issue that needs to be looked at, this is the oversight function.
Section 5 requires the Portfolio Committees to annually look at and assess the performance of the Department it is responsible for, and then to submit what is a called a Budgetary Review and Recommendation Report (BRRR). According to this section, any budgetary review and recommendation report must be submitted to the Minister and the member of Cabinet responsible for the vote to which the report applies after its adoption by the National Assembly and prior to the adoption of the reports on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement.
The Purpose of this report is to assess service delivery and to see whether the Department has achieved its goals and met its objectives. It is also there to assess the financial practices of the Department. The Minister must then respond to the report of the Committee when the budget is tabled and released to say why certain recommendations in their report have or have not been implemented. If the Committee feels that their Recommendations do still need to be met, then they can make further recommendations to amend the budget, to the Appropriations Committee.
Section 11(3) says that when amending revenue Bills and revenue proposals Parliament and its committees must—
- ensure that the total amount of revenue raised is consistent with the approved fiscal framework and the Division of Revenue Bill;
- take into account the principles of equity, efficiency, certainty and ease of collection;
- consider the impact of the proposed change on the composition of tax revenue with reference to the balance between direct and indirect taxes;
- consider regional and international tax trends; and
- Consider the impact on development, investment, employment and economic growth.
In terms of consultation, when a Committee makes a recommendation to the Appropriations Committee, to either exclusively or conditionally appropriate, or change appropriation, there must be a consultation with the relevant Cabinet member, and the Minister of Finance.
Mr M Tseki (ANC) referred to slide three of the presentation which spoke about inter-governmental relations. He asked, in the process of budgeting and spending, how the spheres of Government could work together because one often referred to inter-governmental relations, while the reality is that the spheres of government operate independently. Finally, Mr Tseki said that that the country was facing a challenging of water management, so he wanted to know what the Committee could do in terms of making a Budget recommendation in light of the water crisis.
Ms L Arries (EFF) wanted to find out from Mr Jenkins if he had an example of a Committee that has previously recommended a shift of funds, and the response they received from the National Treasury.
Adv Jenkins said that there are institutions which have been established whereby the Minister of Finance meets with all the MECs of each province to enhance fiscal inter-governmental relations.
The issue of inter-governmental relations when it comes to expenditure issues is really the NCOP’s main function and within the NCOP there are South African Local Government Organisation (SALGO) representatives who sit in the House on certain Committees, even they though they do not participate, one also has the Provincial Delegations, who consider Provincial issues on a National level.
Adv Jenkins said that in terms of the law, Committees make recommendations to Parliament as well as to the Minster on the division of revenue. This division refers to the equitable distribution of revenue of the spheres of Government collected nationally and if there is a problem with the formula of division, a province would be trapped in a spiral of poverty. The recommendations made by Portfolio Committees are thus made with the aim to avoid this.
Briefing on Training by Parliament ICT on the My Parliament AA
The My Parliament APP is an application that is available on Android and IOS Systems, and is aimed at capturing all the information with regard to individual Members of Parliament. This APP includes the schedule of the Member of Parliament who uses the APP; it also includes relevant personal information such as a photo of the Member as well as contact details, and all the information surrounding the specific Committees that the Member of Parliament is a part of.
The My Parliament APP keeps Members up to date with what is going on in Parliament by providing regular news updates on the APP.
Parliament ICT helped the Committee install the APP on their devices, and assisted them with any issues they had with regard to using the APP.
The Chairperson thanked the Committee as well as Parliament ICT.
The meeting was adjourned.