Department Legislative Programme: briefing

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Trade and Industry

01 June 2004
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Meeting report

TRADE AND INDUSTRY AD HOC COMMITTEE
2 June 2004
DEPARTMENT LEGISLATIVE PROGRAMME: BRIEFING

Chairperson:

Dr R Davies

Relevant Documents

Overview of legislation passed since 1999
Legislative programme for 2004 - 2005
Draft Cooperatives Bill

SUMMARY
An overview of legislation that been passed by the Department since 1999 was presented to the Committee as well as a list of new bills that are in the process of being drafted. The Committee said that it would like to see the rationale or philosophy of the Department that had resulted in the bills put before them. Members also stressed that legislation should tie into the President's State of the Nation address. They also felt that they would like to see legislation earlier in the process.

MINUTES
Mr M Ebrahim, Chief of Staff in the Department, presented the Committee with an overview of legislation which had been passed or amended since 1999. He suggested that a more co-ordinated approach is necessary in future as problems do occur with implementation of some of the legislation. He also presented new legislation which it hoped would be passed in 2004/05. Some of these were currently being reviewed by the state law advisors prior to tabling while some were still being drafted (see presetation)

Discussion
Prof B Turok (ANC) said that the presentation was one small step. He suggested that the committee be pro-active and discuss the programme as a whole. They should examine whether the proposed legislation met the needs of the country, what was missing and what was unnecessary. It was not possible to see this from the presentation. It was also necessary to highlight the bills which were critical so that the Department could engage with the Committee on them so that the Committee was not passive in the process.

Ms C. September (ANC) said that she welcomed the change in approach of the Department. She agreed however with the previous speaker and questioned whether the proposed legislation was in line with the President's State of The Nation address. This should be used as a yardstick. It was important to understand the broader vision of the Department that resulted in the legislation.

Dr Nkem-Abonta (DA) said that he agreed with the two previous speakers.

The Chair said that the Co-operatives Bill, that was to come before the committee that week was very important and asked that a substantive briefing be given to the Committee when it was presented. The Companies Act and the Patent Act were also very important especially the Patent Act. It was important that when public hearings were held, that not only patent lawyers make submissions but also people from the constituencies that were affected. He called on the Committee to be pro-active in this. The Consumer Credit Bill, the Consumer Bill and the Company Law Bill were major pieces of legislation and he appealed to the Department that the Committee see these well in advance.

Mr Ebrahim said that he would take the committee's comments back to the Department. He did not think that there would a problem in engaging in a different process. He pointed out that the proposed bills were in line with the Department's strategy over the last few years. He did agree that there was a need to do evaluation. He did not see a need for dramatic changes to be made, but that there was a need to contextualise the bills that had been passed. The Enterprise Development Bill for example was a means to provide new support that was needed. This was in line with the Department's strategy. The request that the Committee be able to see bills earlier in the drafting process would also be taken back to the Department.

Mr Moletsi, also from the Department, referred to the Consumer Credit Bill, and said that the present laws were outdated and discriminatory. Therefore there was a need to change these and give more people access to credit. The Consumer Bill was also old and was not in line with global developments. Consumers also needed more protection. The Company Law Bill was aimed at providing one piece of legislation to promote efficiency and that was in line with globalisation.

Mr K Durr (ACDP) suggested that in looking at the Company Law Bill, the Department look at other countries so that the Bill was global in nature. With regard to the Patents Bill he suggested that the Department also liaise with the National Botanical Institute as they had special knowledge on herbs which were used in products such medicines. He pointed out that Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens had made international agreements with foreign organisations. This was serious as it would have some impact on patents. He suggested that the Department investigate this. It was also important that the provinces be brought in on the Consumer Bill as the Consumer Courts were in their jurisdiction.

Ms September (ANC) suggested that the Department re-examine its dates as it might not reflect Parliament's cycle.

The Chair said that the one major project facing the Committee was the Co-operatives Bill plus some minor ones. It was important for the Committee to know the general approach or philosophy that the Department was following before the bills were written.

Mr S Rasmeni (ANC) said that the issues raised were important and stressed that the work done had to be compatible with the State of the Nation address. He also pointed out that the Committee had proposed amendments be made to the IDC Bill. This had not come before the Committee yet.

The Chair pointed out that the previous Minister had said that the amendments could not happen.

Prof Turok (ANC) requested that the Committee be presented with a new draft of the document that had been presented to the committee. This redraft should show how the State of the Nation address and the Department's strategy had resulted in the bills. He stressed that there should be this continuity of policy.

Dr Nkem-Abonta (DA) also suggested that when the Department re-presented again, that they point out the elements in the current legislation that did not comply with the present change in the country.

Mr Ebrahim said that these requests were very useful and that he would take it back to the Department. He was confident that the requests could be met. He apologised for the lack of information on the IDC Bill and promised to investigate this.

Mr Moletsi said that consultation had taken place with provinces on the Consumer Credit Bill and the Consumer Bill. The process also involved looking at international aspects. Regarding the Patent Bill, he said that they would consult with all the role players.

Mr Rasmeni (ANC) said that government's work was very tight and that some things do get lost in the process. He emphasised that they see the Department's action plan so that they could follow up on those issues that were raised.

The meeting was adjourned.

 

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