The Standing Committee on Appropriations met to consider a Motion of Desirability on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B19 – 2021], and to consider and adopt the Committee’s draft report on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B19 – 2021].
The Motion of Desirability was adopted, with an objection from the DA.
The report had some minor adjustments made to it, and was then adopted, with an objection from the DA.
There was an announcement that the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill would be debated in the National Assembly the following Tuesday. On the following Wednesday, the Committee would be meeting with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Transport on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B20 – 2021].
The Chairperson noted that the meeting would focus on the Committee’s report on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B19-2021], which was one of the steps that the Standing Committee on Appropriations (SC) had to follow after the Minister of Finance tabled the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) [earlier that month]. This was the culmination of a number of steps including calling on departments, the South African Local Government Association (SALGA) and the public to participate in the formulation of the Bill, as the Constitution enjoined the SC.
Mr Darren Arends, Committee Secretary, Standing Committee on Appropriations, read out the apologies, which included Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP). The Chairperson wished him a speedy recovery, as he was involved in a car accident.
Motion of Desirability: Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B19 – 2021]
The Committee Secretary began reading out the document.
The Chairperson wanted to check if the SC formed a quorum.
The Committee Secretary confirmed that the SC formed a quorum, and there were seven Members on the virtual platform.
The Chairperson asked for a mover for the adoption of the Motion of Desirability.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) moved for the adoption of the motion and Mr O Mathafa (ANC) seconded the motion.
Mr A Sarupen (DA) asked the Chairperson to note the objection of the DA.
Report of the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill [B19 – 2021]
The Chairperson noted that the report was circulated to the Committee and comments were made. After the draft report, his bilateral meetings with the Committee Secretary and Mr Sifiso Magagula, Committee Content Advisor, effected some changes, which were minor. He hoped that Members had noted the report. To make sure that the SC did not lose anything, he would go over the report page-by-page. If there was anything that Members wanted to raise, they could let the SC know.
On page 16, the Committee Secretary noted that the Content Advisor wanted to comment on finding 10.12, specifically the figure of R1.3 billion for the public transport network grant.
The Chairperson asked if the Content Advisor wanted to change what was there.
The Committee Secretary had spoken to the Content Advisor the previous day, and thought that he (the Content Advisor) could explain better if he was on the platform.
The Chairperson had spoken to the Content Advisor, and it was agreed to leave the report as it was.
Mr Sifiso Magagula, Committee Content Advisor, said that the SC needed to revert back to what it wrote before; he had spoken to the Committee Secretary about that. He asked the Committee Secretary to state what was written before the two of them spoke to the Chairperson.
The Committee Secretary said that in the initial report that he sent to the Chairperson, a finding was expressing concern about the reduction of the R1.3 billion. The finding did not make mention of the correction; the amount was an over-allocation. Finding 10.12 in the document shown in the meeting read as follows:
The Committee notes the proposed reduction of R1.3 billion on the public transport network grant to correct the over-allocation to the City of Cape Town to align its revised implementation plan of myCiti phase 2A. The Committee feels strongly that such mistakes should be avoided in future.
The Content Advisor said that on the Bill, it did not say that that was an over-allocation; the Bill said that it was underspending because the City did not spend the money; it [the City] was aligning its plan. But he realised that on the presentation from National Treasury (NT), it was talking about an over-allocation. On the Bill that the SC was passing, it did not say that it was an over-allocation; it was just an underspending, which was also what was said on the adjusted estimate of national expenditure, which was on page 386 of the ENE book.
The Chairperson confirmed that the report would revert to the original statement, and the Content Advisor confirmed that.
The Committee Secretary noted that the document being presented showed the initial finding that the Committee had.
The Chairperson read out the version of finding 10.12 that the Content Advisor referred to. It read as follows:
The Committee notes with concern the proposed allocation reduction of R1.3 billion on the public transport network grant for City of Cape Town to align it to its revised implementation plan of myCiti phase 2A. The Committee has always raised concerns about the reduction of this grant due to the important role it plays in providing a reliable public transport network and services for the poor majority, who are still reliant on public transport to commute to various working places. The Committee is of the view that government needs to fund a long-term solution in order to assist cities in spending this grant. The Committee is concerned about the continued reduction of this grant, which intends to address some of the apartheid spatial planning wherein the poor must commute every day from townships and far rural areas to their work places in the cities.
The Chairperson said that that was what was contained in the Bill. He thought that that finding should come in because that was what was contained in the Bill.
The Content Advisor said that was correct, because that was what he and the Committee Secretary were commenting on. The Committee had talked many times about the public transport network grant. The Bill did not talk about a reallocation due to a reduction that was made. But the Bill did talk about unspent funds, so the Committee was concerned about that.
The document shown in the meeting was changed to read as the version which the Chairperson read out above.
Ms Wendy Fanoe, Chief Director: Intergovernmental Policy and Planning, NT, asked to speak regarding the part titled 12. Committee Recommendations on the Bill. The text under the heading read “The Standing Committee on Appropriations having considered the Division of Revenue Second Amendment Bill [B19-2021] …”. She said that the word “Second” should be deleted.
The Committee Secretary said that he would look for the other occurrence of the word “Second” and change it.
With those changes to the report, the Chairperson asked for movers to adopt the Division of Revenue Second Amendment Bill [B19-2021].
Ms M Dikgale (ANC) moved for the adoption of the Bill, and Mr Mathafa seconded the motion.
Mr Sarupen asked for the objection of the DA to be noted.
There were no other objections, and the report on the Bill was adopted, and would “be ATCd”.
The Committee Secretary confirmed that the Chairperson was correct in saying that the report would be ATCd. He said that the Bill would be debated in the National Assembly (NA) the following Tuesday. On the following Wednesday, the Committee would be meeting with the Department of Water and Sanitation and the Department of Transport on the Adjustments Appropriation Bill [B20 – 2021].
The Chairperson thanked everyone who participated in the finalisation of the report, such as the departments, and members of the public. The Committee appreciated the involvement of the support staff and the members of the media who had always been with the Committee. There would be a debate on Tuesday in the NA on the Division of Revenue Amendment Bill.
Mr Sarupen said that with Mr Geordin Hill-Lewis moving across to the City of Cape Town, he might be moving to the Standing Committee on Finance. It might be his last Standing Committee on Appropriations meeting.
Mr Qayiso said (in a humorous tone) that the DA should have done what they did with the previous Bill, when it supported that Bill. The contents of the Bill under discussion emanated from the previous Bill [unclear which Bill].
Mr Sarupen joked that he was being “lobbied” by Members of the Committee.
The Chairperson, on his own behalf and on behalf of the Committee, thanked Mr Sarupen for his constructive engagement and for the way he had handled himself in the Committee. The Committee wished Mr Sarupen well. When people went to the Standing Committee on Finance, the next thing would be deployment to the Executive in the Western Cape. The Chairperson hoped that Parliament was not going to lose Mr Sarupen.
Mr Sarupen replied that he was from Gauteng, so he would not be deployed to the Western Cape.
The meeting was adjourned.
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