Money Bills Amendment Procedure & Related Matters Bill: briefing; Financial Management of Parliament Bill: public hearings

NCOP Finance

02 December 2008
Chairperson: Chairperson: Mr T Ralane (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee met to hear the submissions on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Bill and the Financial Management of Parliament Bill from the People’s Budget Campaign, the Financial and Fiscal Commission and the Secretary of Parliament. However, because there were not enough Members from the various provinces present and due to the lack of a quorum, the Committee decided to postpone the public hearings to 4 December 2008.

Among the reasons for this decision were scheduling problems with the parliamentary programmes and possible clashes with the programmes of the legislatures. This was important as they said that all provinces were entitled to be briefed on the Bills and to have an opportunity to respond.

Members suggested alternative schedule approaches and finally resolved to reconvene the meeting on 4 December 2008.

The Committee had received a written submission from the People’s Budget Campaign on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Bill. They had also received submissions from the Financial and Fiscal Commission, the Office of the Auditor General and the Secretary of Parliament on the Financial Management of Parliament Bill

Other pertinent comments included the reasons Members had not attended the Committee meeting and the possible changes to the parliamentary schedule in the run- up to elections in 2009.


Meeting report

The Chair, on a general note, asked the FFC representatives to consider a meeting early in 2009 as a planning session to reflect on some of the broader issues of municipalities and government.

The Chairperson welcomed all present and commented on the late start due to the absence of Members. Only Mr M Robertson and Mr D Botha had formally apologised. Nonetheless, he felt they had to proceed.

He stated that it was unfortunate and that members were working to ensure that they were on the party lists and that coming to the meeting was a lower priority. He appealed to the powers that be, to make assurances to the Members regarding the lists, as Members would then perhaps be more willing to participate in the consideration of the Bills. He commented on the possibility that members were not in the meeting as they were attending the Branch General Meetings (BGM) - as a result of a fear that they might not be nominated for the lists. He had thought that one would be nominated based on work done and not for attendance of BGMs.

He then noted that the Financial Management of Parliament Bill was a critical piece of Section 76 legislation. He pointed out that six provinces were necessary for a quorum for finalisation of the Bill and the representative members were not present.

The Chair suggested that they proceed with the consideration of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Bill as it appeared that they would not be able to consider the Financial Management of Parliament Bill at that time, unless more members arrived.
The problem, however, was that if they proceeded with the Money Bills briefing the Members representing the other provinces would be left out of the briefing and would not get a chance to comment or raise concerns. He stated that he would appeal to the Chief Whips of the other provinces to prioritise this legislation. All the provinces had to be briefed on a Section 76 Bill and the feeling was that all were keen that this legislation should be passed speedily.

Ms D Robinson (DA) raised concern about the process taking so long and also that the issues would not get as much attention as they should. She asked if this could not wait until the first week of January and reported that the DA members would be back in Parliament on 2 January 2009 and perhaps everybody else should be as well.
Mr E Sogoni (ANC) responded that the members had been provided with a clear programme and if they missed one day it would create problems in the programme. He suggested that they return on the 4 December 2008 to consider the Financial Management of Parliament Bill and they would try to ensure that all of the provinces would be represented.

Mr D Kgotule, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance: Free State Legislature, asked if this was another piece of legislation they would rush. He referred to the recent passing of the National Youth Development Agency Bill and commented that a clear timetable going forward to elections would make it easier for them to work toward meeting the deadline. If one had a very practical mind, one might think that in the second week of February, Parliament might be dissolved. If Parliament was dissolved two days after the Budget, they might go into elections without an approved budget or approved Bills. This could be very serious considering that the House might be in plenary in the last week of January. He asked if they could consider moving things up so that they could finish in time and be able to implement this legislation in the next financial year.

Ms A Mchunu (IFP) referred to the Chairperson as a commander and stated that as commander, he might make a decision about when they would next assemble. She added that the schedule was open for the next day and that they had to be serious about their work. They had promised to serve the people and this was a service to the people.

Ms N Mtsweni, Chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Finance: Mpumalanga Legislature, referred to the suggestions made about meeting on 3 December 2008 and in January 2009, and said that she was not sure if people would come on Wednesday or Thursday. She was hesitant to schedule, as discussed, as it was not possible to be certain of attendance.

The Chair responded that part of the problem was that provinces also had to prepare for the briefing sessions. This would then also have to be pushed back. He also raised the issue of a clash with the programmes and schedules of the provinces. One of the big issues was that the negotiating mandates and the final mandates had to go through the sittings of the provincial legislatures. On another note, he stated that the powers that be have suggested that they process the legislation and not consider plenary, deferring the plenary session to some time in January.

He referred to the submission from the Secretary of Parliament on the Financial Management of Parliament Bill. It highlighted reservations about the legislation and he felt that this submission contained input which might possibly need to be incorporated into the Bill. The same went for the submissions of the People’s Budget Campaign, the Auditor General and the Financial and Fiscal Commission.
Some seemed to want the Committee to rubber stamp the Financial Management of Parliament Bill, in its current form. In light of the submissions by the AG and FFC, this would be problematic. The Chair asked those present for their views on how to proceed.

Ms Robinson responded that she had schedule clashes in the following week. She had made herself available on that day but had other things scheduled. However if they moved it forward, they would have scheduling difficulties. She remembered seeing these Bills on the programme weeks ago and felt it should have been finished then. She asked if the Committee could have an informal briefing to hear opinion and be informed and then have a brief follow up meeting with the other Members present

The Chair responded that an informal meeting would disadvantage those not present and they might have to repeat everything once those members were in attendance.

Mr Kgotule, responded that he would be in the Free State on 3 and 4 December for the hearings of the Review of the Criminal Justice System. They had two weeks to finalise that. Free State had a standing programme but was willing to do anything possible to ensure that the Bills succeeded. He asked if they could not impress upon the legislatures, the importance of this, to make sure that people did attend.

The Chair suggested that they come back on 4 December 2008.

Ms Mtsweni responded that she would send someone in her place as she had another meeting on 4 December.

The Chair responded that this meant that the programme would be changed and they would have to decide on when to brief provinces. He asked the PBC if Members would be able to keep their submission as it had already been distributed

The representatives of the PBC agreed.

The Chair clarified that they would deal with the PBC submission on the Money Bills first on 4 December, followed by the submissions on the Financial Management of Parliament.

 The meeting was adjourned.


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