National Credit Bill, Diamonds Amendment Bill, Precious Metals Bill: Adoption; Additional Protocol to Trade, Development & Coope

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Meeting report

SELECT COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS

SELECT COMMITTEE ON ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS
14 November 2005
NATIONAL CREDIT BILL, DIAMONDS AMENDMENT BILL: ADOPTION; PRECIOUS METALS BILL: CHANGES; ADDITIONAL PROTOCOL TO TRADE, DEVELOPMENT AND COOPERATION AGREEMENT BETWEEN SOUTH AFRICA & EUROPEAN UNION: BRIEFING

Chairperson:
Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC)

Documents handed out:
Powerpoint Presentation: National Credit Bill by Department of Trade and Industry
Proposed Amendments to National Credit Bill
National Credit Bill [B18B-2005] as amended by Portfolio Committee
Committee Report on National Credit Bill [please email
docs@pmg.org.za]
Additional Protocol to the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) by Wilhelm Smalberger
Explanatory Memorandum: Additional Protocol to the Trade, Development, and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA) between RSA and European Community and its member states.
Useful websites: International Trade and Economic Development Division (see Appendix)
Diamonds Amendment Bill [B27B-2005 (Reintroduced)]
Diamonds Second Amendment Bill [B39B-2005]
Precious Metals Bill [B30B-2005] as amended by Portfolio Committee
Diamonds Amendment Bill and Precious Metals Bill: Concerns of the South African Police Service (SAPS)
Diamonds Amendment Bill and Precious Metals Bill by South African Police Service (SAPS)
Programme for cycle of Diamonds Second Amendment Bill (Section 76 (1))

SUMMARY
The Committee adopted the National Credit Bill and the Diamonds Amendment Bill. The Precious Metals Bill was not adopted as there were some changes needed due to drafting errors in effecting the Portfolio Committee amendments.

The Department of Trade and Industry briefed the Committee on the additional protocol to the Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement between South Africa and the European Union. After questions on how South Africa would benefit from the agreement, the Committee adopted its report with the recommendation that Parliament ratify the additional protocol.

MINUTES
National Credit Bill
The DTI briefed the Committee on the intentions of the Bill. Ms A Ludin (DTI Deputy Director-General) informed the Committee that the Bill was aimed, among others, to assist students who had educational loans with interest and repayment.

The DTI gave a presentation on the National Credit Bill, highlighting the main areas that Members had raised in the previous meeting. The report covered areas such as escalating interest, incidental credit, new definitions, unlawful provisions and finally clarifying the technical amendments. The main objective of the presentation was to brief Members on what the Bill sought to achieve. Moreover, the presentation was aimed at ensuring that all concerns previously raised by the Provinces were addressed and as such, the Bill could then be adopted.

Technical Amendments to the National Credit Bill
Mr J Strydom (State Law Advisor) briefed the Committee on technical amendments that included omission and replacement of certain clauses to ensure that the Bill did not disadvantage anyone. The Committee was informed that it was unfortunate that most clauses needed to be amended to ensure that the Bill was consistent. The Committee was satisfied with the amendments and concluded that the Bill be adopted.

Discussion
Mr Gungubele (ANC, Gauteng) raised a concern in relation to the imposed interest that students accumulated while studying. He wanted to know if the DTI had a solution to this as black students continued to be disadvantaged by the system.

Ms Ludin responded that they were aware that the issue of loans needed to be viewed from different backgrounds and as such could not be resolved in a standard format. The DTI resolved that there were some things that still needed to be clarified in the report.

The Chair requested Members to raise concerns, amendments and or any other comments before the Bill was adopted. All provinces approved the Bill with the exception of the North-West Province whose mandate had not been received in time.

The DTI expressed their gratitude to the Committee for the time they took to ensure that the Bill was adopted. They also thanked the Chairperson for her contribution in ensuring that even though time consuming, all processes were observed and well organised in seeing that the Committee adopted the Bill.

Additional Protocol to the RSA-EC Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement (TDCA)
Mr W Smalberger (DTI: International Trade and Economic Development section) briefed the Committee on the additional protocol to the TDCA between SA and the European Union (EU). He told Members that he would not go into detail as he had prepared a detailed presentation that Members could study at a later stage.

Mr Smalberger touched on the history of the TDCA. It was signed on 11 October 1999 and was ratified in November of the same year by South Africa. The agreement entered fully into force on 1 May 2004 when 10 additional countries joined the EU.

Discussion

Ms M Temba (ANC, Mpumalanga) expressed concern that it would not be easy for the Committee to engage the presentation as the information provided was insufficient sufficient.

Mr Gumgubele (ANC, Gauteng) shared the same sentiments as Ms Temba. He asked what the purpose of the briefing was. What did DTI expect of the Committee?

Mr Smalberger informed the Committee that the objective of the presentation was for Parliament to ratify the additional protocol in accordance with the provisions of Section 231 (2) of the Constitution as was the case for the original TDCA.

Ms Mchunu (IFP, KZN) wanted to know how South Africa would benefit from the TDCA and if there has been any form of training provided in agricultural exports to equip people working in the sector.

Mr Smalberger replied that by 2010 all products traded between SA and the EU would be duty free and as such, South Africa would benefit. In 2004, SA was one of the biggest destinations for agricultural exports from the EU worth about R6, 4 billion.

The Committee agreed that Parliament should ratify the additional protocol to the TDCA.

Diamonds Amendment Bill and Precious Metals Bill: by Department of Minerals and Energy (DME)
Mr A Mngomezulu (Deputy Director-General: Mineral Developed) informed the Committee that the main focus of the presentation was to report to the Committee on the amendments made after comments in the previous Committee meeting and in the Provincial hearings. The presentation would also brief Members about a meeting between the DME and the South African Police Services (SAPS) where the latter raised concerns about the Bills.

Advocate M Mononela (DME) presented the main concerns of the SAPS on the Diamonds Amendment Bill. These covered consultation with the National Commissioner in respect of licences/permits or lack thereof. The second concern was consideration of applications and the principles of administrative justice (Clause 6). There were also major concerns about the powers of the police to inspect, search and seize (Clause 16) and entry and search of premises without a warrant (Clause 18). The SAPS had requested that these concerns be addressed before the Committee considered the Bill.

The Department also took the Committee through all other consequential changes to the Diamonds Amendment Bill. The Precious Metals Bill would require amendments to correct careless drafting mistakes when effecting the Portfolio Committee amendments. The Committee would need to meet on 1 December to approve these. These were:

- change in the definition of semi-fabricated (and precious metals) which was not carried through in the B30B version

- reference to a certificate during transitional period - this certificate is not provided for

- the reference to regulations - these must be effected by the Minister and not the Regulator as stated in B30B.


Discussion

Ms M Temba (ANC, Mpumalanga) asked if there was any Provincial representation when the DME met with the SAPS.

Advocate Mononela responded that the concerns of the SAPS were addressed at Head Office level.

Mr D Gamede (ANC, KZN) asked why the SAPS had included issues like criminal records in their concerns.

Mr Mngomezulu responded that there was a tendency in the industry to deal illegally in diamonds. After offenders appeared in court, they would simply change identities and carry on with the same illegal dealings. The criminal justice system would have to play a vital role in preventing such occurrences.

Mr Mngomezulu requested a few minutes to highlight all other changes to the Diamonds Second Amendment Bill to provide Members with more clarity.

The Committee welcomed the briefing.

There being no further questions, the Chair invited Members to raise any final amendments or concerns before adopting the Diamonds Amendment Bill.

Ms M Temba requested supporting information that would enable the Committee to understand the Bills better.

The DME indicated that there was a Memorandum on the objects of the Diamonds Amendment Bill included with the Bill that would assist Members to understand it better. The technical amendments raised by the Committee were welcomed by the DME and the Diamonds Amendment Bill was adopted.

Other Committee Business
The Chair spoke on the Programme Cycle for the Diamonds Second Amendment Bill (Section 76) which meant that the Committee would sit beyond the end of the parliamentary year. The programme indicated deadlines for the meetings that would be held to finalise the Diamonds Second Amendment Bill. Members were urged to submit their final mandates at the specified times and dates.

The Chair commented that she hoped that Members would go back to their Provinces and inform them about the Bills.

The meeting was adjourned.

Appendix: The International Trade and Economic Development Development Division

THE DTI

INTERNATIONAL TRADE AND ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT DIVISION

SOUTH AFRICA

 

Useful websites

SA/FU

The "Trade, Development and Cooperation Agreement" can be accessed at

http://www.sars.gov.za/ce/general/trade/tradeeuandsa.htm

 

If you are interested in exporting to the member states of the EU, the EU's current tariff can be found at:

http://europa.euc.iny/comm/taxation_customd/dd/cgi-bin/tarchap?Lang=EN

 

Steps: Exporters to the EU are to type in a six or an eight digit code when they have opened this site. In the space where it says "Country of originidestination" they should click on South Africa - ZA (388). They will get a normal rate (erga omnes) for exports to the EU coming from the rest of the world; tariff preference (SPGl) which is the Generalized System of Preference applicable to imports from certain developing countries including South Africa; tariff preference (ZA) which applies to exports from South Africa into the EU. The importer into the EU would pay which ever is the lowest tariff Please keep in mind that for this to happen, exports under GSP have to be accompanied by a certificate of origin form A issued by SARS (Customs) whilst exports under tariff preference (ZA) have to be accompanied by a certificate of origin form EUR. 1 also issued by SARS (Customs).

If you are interested in importing industrial products from the EU, the first thing to do is to find the correct tariff heading/s in one of the lists contained in Annexure III of the agreement. The second step is to go back to Art. 12 and apply the regime for each list to the current SA tariff book. For agricultural products one has to find the product in one of the lists in Annexure VI and compare it with the tariff regimes spelled in Art. 15. Please remember that the agreement entered into force on 1 January 2000. Products eligible to enter South Africa under preferential rates must be accompanied by a certificate of origin duly certified by Customs in one of the EU member states.


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