Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20B-2006]: adoption

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Meeting report

ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE

ECONOMIC AND FOREIGN AFFAIRS SELECT COMMITTEE
27 March 2007
ELECTRICITY REGULATION AMENDMENT BILL [B20B-2006]: ADOPTION

Chairperson:
Ms N Ntwanambi (ANC, Western Cape)

Documents handed out:
Proposed Amendments for Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill
Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20-2006]
Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20B-2006]
Committee Annual Report 2006 [available at Tabled Committee Reports once adopted]

SUMMARY
The Department on Minerals and Energy had incorporated all the Committee?s proposed amendments on Clauses 2, 3, 11 and 13 of the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20B-2006] into a final document, which was tabled and discussed. The Bill was accepted by the Committee and would be referred to the full House.

The Annual Report of the Committee was tabled. The Chairperson summarised the highlights, including site visits, the study tour and the legislation adopted. She noted that there had been underspending on the budget. The need for further interaction with the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network was noted. The Committee was also still to meet with the National Energy Regulator and SASOL. The rules and practices regarding overseas study tours were discussed and it was proposed that the Chairperson take up the matter with the responsible person at the Chairpersons? Forum. The Report was adopted.
?
The programme for the second term was tabled and adopted.


MINUTES
Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20B-2006]: Adoption
Mr Ompi Aphane, Chief Director: Electricity, Department of Minerals and Energy (DME) tabled the final list of proposed amendments had been prepared. He noted each proposed amendment as follows?: -

Clause 2: On page 2, from line 28, to omit ?and, distribution or reticulation? and to substitute ?and / or distribution?.
Clause 3: Clause 3 was omitted as it had been rejected.
Clause 11: On page 4, line 13, to substitute the number ?28? with ?27?
On page 4, from line 13 to omit subsections (1).
On page 4, in line 16, to omit ?(2)? as this was a consequential renumbering.
On page 4, in line 29, to substitute ?46? with ?35?.
On page 4, in line 38, to substitute ?30? with ?28?.
On page 5, in line 2, to substitute ?32? with ?29?.
On page 5, in line 16, to substitute ?47? with ?35?.
Clause 13: On page 5, after line 50, to insert the following paragraph:
?(r) norms and standards for the setting of reticulation tariffs, in consultation with the Minister of Finance;?

Discussion
Ms J Terblanche (DA, North-West) referred to Clause 13. She was not at the previous meeting and asked whether the final mandate from North-West had been received by the Law Advisor.

Ms C Booysen, State Law Advisor, responded that certain proposals made were outside the ambit of this Act; but that the Department was currently addressing those issues in other legislation.

Ms Terblanche requested the Chair for copies of the mandate of her province. She was in a difficult position to comment as the mandate was not sent to her in time.

The Chairperson assured Ms Terblanche that she would receive those copies. The timeous sending of the mandate would be addressed.

The Chairperson continued that the Committee was still awaiting further amendments that would hopefully be sent shortly after June, and doubted if the Committee could finalise the Bill this year. It was impossible to rush the legislation as there needed to be full consultation, particularly at municipal level.

The Chairperson then read the motion of desirability.

The Bill, classified as a Section 76 Bill, was proposed, seconded and accepted with the amendments.

Consideration of Committee Report
The acceptance of the Committee Report on the Bill was proposed by Mr N Hendricks (UIF), seconded by Ms S Mabe (ANC, Free State), and adopted by all Members.

Consideration of Committee?s Annual Report
The Chairperson tabled the Annual Report of the Committee for 2006. She noted that in the year under review the committee passed four Section 75 Bills and Three International Agreements in terms of Section 231 of the Constitution. One Section 76 Bill was due to be finalised in February 2007. A highlight had been the site visit to the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC). While much had been done, the Chairperson urged Members to work even harder to strengthen the committee and to reposition it to cater for and champion the wider interests of Parliament.

The Committee?s vision and mission was detailed in the Report. The Committee would focus attention in the Trade and Industry areas on job creation, with specific attention to the provincial impact of national policy on Small and Medium Enterprise (SMME) development. For Minerals and Energy the Committee planned to assess the progress made in ensuring adequate access to energy supplies in rural areas in South Africa. In Foreign Affairs the Committee would focus on those areas related to economic development. The Report detailed the public entities over which the Committee exercised oversight, and also detailed information on the briefing sessions during the year. The Bills and papers were listed. The oversight visits and study tours were included in the Report. A list of annual reports from departments and entities was included.

The Chairperson noted that the Outstanding issues were the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill [B20B-2006scheduled for finalisation in February 2007; the Annual Reports of some entities and adoption of the Report on the International Study Tour to Nigeria.

The Chairperson noted that the Committee under spent on budget. The total expenditure for catering was not yet available. The figures for the oversight visits and study tour were given.?

Discussion
The Chairperson commented the committee still did not have a Committee Secretary. She believed that the Committee would have to interact more with the Technology for Women in Business (TWIB) programme.

Ms M Themba (ANC, Eastern Cape) agreed. She commented that the South African Women Entrepreneurs Network (SAWEN) had not yet been established in most of the provinces.

The Chairperson commented that bills took so much time because the National Assembly must prioritise when dealing with a Section 76 Bill.

The Chairperson reminded members that the Committee must still meet with the National Energy Regulator (NER), and SASOL. There was not a great deal to do with the Department of Foreign Affairs, other than protocols and matters relating to the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

The Chairperson noted a typographical error of the date on page 10 of the Report, relating to the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill briefing for January.

Mr D Gamede (ANC, Kwazulu Natal) referred to the Competition Commission briefing scheduled for May. He asked if the Commission had already briefed the Committee.

The Chairperson responded that the Competition Tribunal previously briefed the Committee.

The Chairperson said that even if the catering invoice was presented, the Committee had still under spent. The new programme planned to have study tours to Alexkor, and was negotiating to visit India or China. The first meeting of the new programme would still establish the catering figure.

Mr J Sibiya (ANC, Limpopo) asked whether the amount under spent would be lost.

The Chairperson confirmed that it could not be carried over to the new financial year starting 1 April.

Mr Hendricks asked whether the Committee?s allocation would be cut as it had under spent this year. He commented that it had been careful with its budget, and should not have to be placed on a waiting list for an overseas study tour.

The Chairperson responded that the Committee had been careful with its budget and catering. An overseas study tour application would take six to eight weeks to process. The rules stated that a Committee could only go on study tour twice in a five-year cycle. R500 000 was allocated to committees. The Committee?s trip would be cheaper as it was an African trip, but there was another method of accessing funding for study tours.

Mr Gamede proposed that the Committee secretary adjust the figures and close the year with a correct balance to avoid unnecessary exposure.

Ms Terblanche acknowledged that certain practices had to be followed, but that if they were practices only, they were in danger of being vague and not consistently applied. She suggested that the Chairperson raise this at the Chairpersons Forum, because if some committees had problems others would too. She would like to see the rules relating to trips. The Committee could benefit from study tours and assist it in its work, especially as money was allocated.

Mr Ntwanambi said she would take this up with the relevant people.

Mr D Mkono (ANC, Eastern Cape) asked how many provinces needed to adopt the report.

The Chairperson reported that nine needed to adopt it.

The report was adopted subject to amendments.

Proposed Committee Programme Second Term 7 May to 27 June 2007
The programme for the second term was tabled and agreed.

The meeting was adjourned.

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