The Committee considered its Programme for the year and adopted it, with amendments. The Substance Abuse Bill had been prioritsed by the Committee, which the Committee aimed to pass by May 2008. Upcoming oversight visits were also discussed.
Introductory remarks by Chairperson
The Chairperson called upon members to prepare for overseas trips to Cuba, Brazil and Canada, starting in April. In addition there was a reminder to attend the Social Security Conference to be held in the week of 10-14 March 2008.
Draft Committee Programme and Legislative Programme
The Committee discussed its draft program for the year, mainly dealing with bills; legislation; public hearings and community participation programs. The main Bill that was high on the agenda was the Prevention of Substance Abuse Bill. There was also mention of the Social Security System, which included free housing, access to health care, contributory schemes, and the role of the Department of Social development as a custodian of the poor. The Committee had until 3 October 2008 to finalize legislation for presentation to the NCOP.
The Draft Legislation Program was also discussed. The Committee aimed to pass the Substance Abuse Bill by 9 May 2008. and for Parliament to pass the Bill by August.
The yearly program had to be developed for budget allocation from the parliament. Outstanding issues and the budget had to be dealt with only after the Substance Abuse Bill was passed.
The Committee also discussed the program for legislation regarding the Social Assistance Policy for the aged and disabled. However, the aspect of a new definition for disability was left out due to the need for public hearings on that matter. The South African Social Security Agency (SASSA) was also in the agenda for consideration during the year, as there was a need to increase the number of its board members.
The Committee planned to set aside the whole of March for budget briefings, which had to be completed before the April recess.
The second week of May was dedicated to community interaction and participation on Bills being dealt with by the Department. A community interaction programme was to be developed and the communities to be visited would be identified before the April Parliamentary recess.
The third week of May would entail departmental briefings to deal with complaints regarding institutions that fell under the Development, while the last week would be used to assess the impact of community inputs on the Bill.
The month of June was set aside for drafting and interaction with the Department who would make changes where necessary.
In August, after the July recess, the Bill would be sent to Government Printersprinters and flaws would be corrected.
Another issue that would have to be addressed was the Pension Bill, which dealt with the reduction of pensioners’ age to sixty.
In addition, the Chairperson said that after August there would be implementation phase of the legislation. The time was also set aside for oversight visits of social development projects, old age homes and similar programmes for the aged. Service delivery at provincial level as well as budget and capacity issues would be assessed.
The Committee Programme was adopted, with amendments
The meeting was adjourned.