In the final sitting for the year, the Select Committee on Appropriations convened an online video conference for the purpose of adopting:
(1) the report concerning the Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B25-2020];
(2) the report on the proposed division of revenue and conditional grant allocations to provinces and local government, as contained in the 2020 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS);
(3) the outstanding Committee minutes for 24, 25 and 27 November 2020.
Both reports were adopted with the objections by opposition parties duly noted by the Chairperson and which would be included in the final report.
All minutes were adopted in a non-partisan fashion, without objection or amendment.
The Chairperson welcomed all attendees. She said she had received an apology for absence from Mr S Du Toit (FF+, North West), who had another political commitment which required his attention. She said that the Committee could assist Mr Du Toit by fast-tracking the meeting, since the reports under consideration in the current session had been received the Friday of the preceding week (4 December 2020). In addition to Mr Du Toit, she said that if the Committee meeting ran too long, Mr Y Carrim (ANC, KZN) might not be able to remain in the meeting until the end since he, too, had other political commitments to which he needed to attend.
She said that this would be the final meeting of the Committee for the year, and added that the Committee would deal with two reports: (1) the report concerning the Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B25-2020], and (2) the report on the proposed division of revenue and conditional grant allocations to provinces and local government, as contained in the 2020 Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS). The second item refers to a proposal for the following financial year and for this reason, the Committee need not delve into it too deeply. She requested Members focus only on the observations in the reports.
Report on the Second Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B25B-2020]
She said that the first report started from page nine. She reiterated that the Committee would focus on its observations and findings, and then proceed to recommendations. She told Members that if there was anything they wanted the Committee to amend, she encouraged them to speak to the Committee secretariat in advance (this is how it has been traditionally done, and is why the report was sent out in a timely fashion). This is so that Members must not expect to attend the present Committee to start discussions afresh and to attempt in-depth criticism.
She asked if Members agreed with the approach to focus on the observations, findings and recommendations of the reports.
Mr D Ryder (DA, Gauteng) said that, regarding this approach and the report which he perused, “frankly we are so far apart on this that to try to panel-beat this report into something that we’d all be happy with is an impossibility, because the reality is that our position is that, firstly, we don’t believe in the allocation to SAA; secondly, we don’t believe that taking money away from education, health et cetera is the right way to do it; and thirdly, we don’t believe that dreaming of winning a court case is going to benefit us in any way. And actually this entire budget is flawed.”
He added that “We could have written a whole set of counter-recommendations; I don’t think that has any purpose. Without being funny, we reject the recommendations as they are, and obviously we’ll take this up in the House. I don’t know if we’re able to include a paragraph at the end, which I will happily submit, if the Committee is in agreement, just to put our position forward and say that this is not something [with which] we are agreeing. We’re totally opposed to the way this budget’s been put together; Treasury is setting the country up for failure.”
The Chairperson said she heard what Mr Ryder was saying and thanked him for his input. She said, however, that most of the issues which he outlined he could raise in the House the next day (9 December 2020) through his party’s declaration. She said she acknowledged that the Democratic Alliance (DA) did not agree to the report.
She asked if any other Members wanted to give their input.
Mr Du Toit said he agreed with Mr Ryder’s points. He said he did not support the report “at all.” He said the manner in which the whole division has been compiled is “not functional.” He added that he would stay in the meeting as long as possible.
Mr M Moletsane (EFF, Free State) said that the EFF has been “very vocal in terms of revisiting the model of distribution.” For this reason, the EFF would not support the report until such time as the model was revisited.
The Chairperson thanked them for their contributions, and said that their criticisms were welcome. She said she would appreciate more focus when declarations are submitted on this issue the following day. She said Members should be clear on what criticism they want to raise insofar as the budget is concerned.
Mr E Njadu (ANC, Western Cape) said that, whilst welcoming the contributions of the other parties, the Committee should also look at the context and timing of the MTBPS.
Mr Njadu then formally moved to adopt the report.
Ms M Mamaregane (ANC, LImpopo) seconded the motion.
The report was adopted.
The Chairperson thanked them and moved on to the next item on the agenda.
Report on Proposed Division of Revenue and Conditional Grant Allocations to Provinces and Local Government as Contained in the 2020 Medium Term Budget Policy Statement
The Chairperson said the second report’s observations and findings starts from page 23. She said she thinks Members would want to take the same approach as with the preceding report. She asked for an indication if this was the case.
Mr Ryder said “yes,” that the same approach certainly applies. He said Mr Njadu’s comments about the timing and the lack of time the Committee has had should be incorporated into the report. He said the report should emphasise, among other things, the “small amount of time” and “the narrow window period” that provinces had to comment. This, he said, impacted the Committee’s work negatively, and that it was not constructive. He said he acknowledged that the Finance’s Minister’s speech was delayed by a week or two, but that that has had a knock-on effect all the way through. This impacts the way the Committee has engaged with the reports, the public and the provinces, and that it is “problematic.” He reiterated that “we are so far apart” that his party would deal with the matter in the declarations.
Mr Du Toit said his position is the same and that the FF+ does not support the report.
Mr Moletsane said his position, too, is the same and that the EFF does not support the report.
Mr Njadu again acknowledged the contributions of the other parties before formally moving to adopt the report.
Ms Mamaregane seconded the motion.
The report was adopted.
The Chairperson thanked Members and said that they proceeded in a “progressive manner” and expressed her desire that this progressive approach would continue. She said she did not believe that the parties were far apart as Mr Ryder had suggested.
Other Committee Business
The Committee then moved on to briefly reviewing and adopting the minutes for 24, 25 and 27 November 2020.
Minutes for 24 November 2020: Mr Ryder moved to adopt; Mr Aucamp (DA, Northern Cape) seconded the motion.
Minutes for 25 November 2020: Mr Njadu moved to adopt; Mr Moletsane seconded the motion.
Minutes for 27 November 2020: Mr Du Toit moved to adopt; Ms Mamaregane seconded the motion.
The minutes were all adopted without objection or amendment.
The Chairperson took the opportunity to thank all Members for their dedication and support given both to herself and to each other. She said they could have chosen to make things difficult, but that Members were very cooperative. She said that if Members do not agree on everything, it does not mean that they are “fighting.” She said that all Members were able, as a Committee, to deal with their differences.
She also took the opportunity to thank the Committee support staff for their dedication and hard work. She said this was the final meeting for the year. She said she wanted to extend her appreciation, also, to the stakeholders, the media, and other all other stakeholders. She wished everyone the best for the holidays and a prosperous new year. She hoped that 2021 would be a better year than 2020 in terms of the pandemic.
She directed the Committee secretariat to ensure that issues raised, such as those by Mr Ryder, be included in the relevant reports as soon as possible.
She thanked everyone again and offered her blessings.
Mr Carrim raised a point of order in jest, saying that the Chairperson did not specifically thank him for behaving so well in her Committee and that he was “deeply depressed about that.” He also joked with Members from other parties whom, he said, were very active in the Committee by adopting minutes in a non-partisan fashion. He teased them by saying that this was, firstly, just to show their constituencies that they were enthusiastically doing some work in the Committee and, secondly, that this enthusiasm was because “the Christmas cheer had hit them very hard.” He bantered by saying he wished it was Christmas for all twelve months of the year, because he, as a Chairperson, has never received this level of cooperation from them. Jokes aside, he then thanked the Chairperson for chairing the Committee in an inclusive manner by giving everyone a chance to voice their views.
Laughing, the Chairperson extended a special thanks to Mr Carrim for keeping Members happy and laughing.
She thanked all Members once again and adjourned the Committee for the year
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