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JOINT BUDGET COMMITTEE
03 November 2006
MEDIUM TERM BUDGET EXPENDITURE FRAMEWORK POLICY: COMMITTEE REPORT AND PROCEDURE
Co-Chairpersons: Ms L Mabe (ANC) and Mr B Mkhaliphi (ANC Mpumalanga)
Documents handed out:
The Committee met to discuss its finalisation and adoption of its report on the Medium Term Budget Statement process. The Committee would meet on Monday to make the necessary changes to the document, before its adoption on Tuesday. The report would be debated in the National Assembly on Wednesday, 8 November.
Members expressed their concerns over the stringent timeframes and suggested a possible postponement of the debate. The Co-Chairpersons would raise this matter with the Speaker’s office as well as the chief whips. Members agreed to postpone hearings of the security cluster. The management section of the Committee would establish appropriate dates in due course.
Mr B Mkhaliphi (Co-Chairperson) explained that the purpose of the meeting was to review the draft Committee Report on the process of the Medium term Budget Statement (MTBS). He said that since members needed time to study the document, the Committee would discuss the report and make the necessary amendments on Monday, prior to its adoption on Tuesday.
Ms L Mabe (Co-Chairperson) presented the following preliminary suggestions on behalf of the Co-chairpersons. There was a need for the structure of the document to change, the recommendations of both the previous year as well as this year should be reviewed, and those departments that had not responded to an invitation by the Committee had to be listed in the document. In addition to this, certain sections of the Public Finance Management Act, which the Committee had utilised in determining whether the Departments were required to present, should also be added. This would ensure that the position of the Committee regarding certain Departments was properly understood. Departments would also understand what was expected of them when briefing the Committee.
Mr G Schneemann (ANC) supported the co-chairpersons’ views. The management section of the Committee had met that morning to raise these issues with the Applied Fiscal Research Centre (AFREC), the Committee’s consultant. He suggested that the additional issues discussed at the management committee’s meeting be incorporated in the report.
Ms B Dambuza (ANC) cautioned the Committee that Mondays were usually reserved for study group meetings.
Mr Mkhaliphi clarified that the Committee would not adopt the report on Monday, but would make final changes to the document. After a review by the management committee, the final draft of the report would then be tabled to and adopted by the Committee on Tuesday.
Ms Dambuza requested that notices as well as the report be distributed to members that morning. The secretaries of the Committee members should sign as proof of receipt of document.
Mr Mkhaliphi said that the committee section would be responsible for this.
Mr Schneeman wondered whether the report would be debated in the National Assembly on Wednesday, as he queried whether it could be published on the programme if the Committee adopted it on Tuesday.
Mr Mkhaliphi acknowledged the stringent timeframes the Committee had to abide by. The report would both appear on the ATC (Announcements, Tablings and Committees) and be debated on the same day. This rarely happened. He added that the report would be debated on 16 November, in the National Council of Provinces.
Ms Mabe said that it was unfortunate that the Committee had to complete the process within such rigorous timeframes. The report could not be adopted immediately, as members needed to study the document, and then make the necessary improvements. Moreover, the Committee had requested Departments to submit the projected revenue and expenditure for the outer years of the current MTEF cycle. This needed to be incorporated. She acknowledged the difficulty of such a demanding schedule, especially since the MTEBS was a complicated document that could not merely be amended.
M Scnhneeman asked whether the debate could not be postponed. He asked whether the two Chairpersons could interact with the Speaker’s office and the chief whips to establish whether this was possible. He suggested that the debate be postponed to Thursday. The current pace placed undue pressure on the process.
Mr Mkhaliphi assured the Committee that he and Ms Mabe would attend to the matter immediately after the meeting. He reminded members that the MTBS was part of the Appropriation Bill, and that this piece of legislation was now also the responsibility of the joint budget committee. He questioned how the National Assembly dealt with this Bill. He explained that the NCOP required a member of the Committee to issue a statement.
Ms Mabe explained that the National Assembly followed different procedures when dealing with the Appropriation Bill. She would elaborate on this process on Monday.
Ms Mabe said that although the she and Mr Mkhalipi would approach the chief whips and the Speaker’s office regarding the postponement of the debate, members should, until further notice, assume that the report would be debated on Wednesday. She cautioned that the request could also be discussed in the chief whips’ forum as all parties had to agree to such a schedule change.
Mr Schneemann requested clarity on the committee programme for the following week. He said that hearings were scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday. This would impact on the preparation for the debate as well as the committee’s adoption of the report. He asked if these hearings could be postponed.
Ms Mkhaliphi said that the Committee could consider the postponement of the hearings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.
Mr Schneemann asked which delegation would be briefing the Committee on Wednesday.
The committee secretary responded that the Auditor General (AG) had confirmed his attendance. IDASA and the National Treasury had not committed themselves to a meeting.
Ms Mabe suggested that the meeting with the Auditor General should proceed. The hearing would be postponed and the management committee would decide on the appropriate dates.
She stressed the importance of these hearings as the security cluster merely provided written documentation.
Ms Dambuza said that the meeting with the AG would assist the Committee’s work regarding the MTBS. The security cluster meetings could be postponed.
Mr Mkhaliphi said that that the AG would brief the Committee on a separate issue and not necessarily the MTBS.
Ms R Mashigo (ANC) suggested that the hearings be moved to Friday.
Mr Mkhaliphi responded that the management committee would consider these suggestions when planning the programme.
Ms Mabe concluded that the Committee would consider the draft report as well as be briefed by the AG on Monday. The Committee would then adopt the report on Tuesday prior to the debate on Wednesday in the National Assembly. The hearings of the security cluster, scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday, would thus be cancelled. Mr Mkhaliphi said that the programme would be adjusted accordingly.
The meeting was adjourned.
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