The Standing Committee on Public Accounts (SCOPA) considers:
- financial statements of all executive organs of state and constitutional institutions or other public bodies when those statements are submitted to Parliament
- any audit reports issued on those statements
- any reports issued by the Auditor-General on the affairs of any executive organ of state, constitutional institution or other public body
- any other financial statements or reports referred to the committee in terms of the Rules of the National Assembly
- report on any of those financial statements or reports to the Assembly
- initiate any investigation in its area of competence
- perform any other functions, tasks or duties assigned to it in terms of the Constitution, legislation, Rules of the National Assembly, the Joint Rules or resolutions of the Assembly, including functions, tasks and duties concerning parliamentary financial oversight or supervision of executve organs of state, constitutional institutions or other public bodies
THE ROLE AND FUNCTIONS OF COMMITTEES IN PARLIAMENT (provided by Parliament)
In accordance with the powers given to it by the Constitution, the National Assembly establishes a range of committees with assigned powers and functions. The committees are required to report regularly on their activities and to make recommendations to the House for debate and decision. A large part of the Assembly’s role in the law‑making process happens in committees and much of its oversight over the executive is also done through committees, particularly the portfolio committees.
There is a portfolio committee for each corresponding government department. The composition of the committees reflects, as far as is practicable, the numerical strengths of the parties represented in the Assembly. That committee will deliberate on bills covering that department’s area of jurisdiction and scrutinise and report on its annual budget and strategic plan. As the people’s representatives, members of the committees determine whether government departments are delivering on what they promised and whether they are spending the public money they receive in a responsible manner. As part of their oversight work, committees may also do site visits where they find out directly from the people at ground level whether the government is delivering on its promises.
If a committee reports on a matter and makes certain recommendations, that report will be debated in a full sitting or plenary to give other members of the House an opportunity to engage with the content of the report. Once the report has been debated, the House decides whether to adopt the committee’s recommendations. The House may also decide only to note the report or it may refer the report back to the committee with an instruction to do further work.
Working in Committees allows Parliament to:
- Increase the amount of work that can be done
- Ensure that issues can be debated in more detail than in plenary sessions
- Increase the level of participation of Members of Parliament (MPs) in discussions
- Enable MPs to develop expertise and in-depth knowledge of the specific Committee's area of work
- Provide a platform for the public to present views directly to MPs, something which is not possible in a plenary sitting of Parliament
- Provide an environment for Parliament to hear evidence and collect information related to the work of a specific Committee
Rule 167 of the National Assembly Rules (9th Edition) say that for the purposes of performing its functions committee may, subject to the Constitution, legislation, the other provisions of these rules and resolutions of the Assembly –
- Summon any person to appear before it to give evidence on oath or affirmation, or to produce documents
- Receive petitions, representations or submissions from interested persons or institutions
- Permit oral evidence on petitions, representations, submissions and any other matter before the committee
- Conduct public hearings
- Consult any Assembly or Council committee or subcommittee, or any joint committee or subcommittee
- Determine its own working arrangements
- Meet at a venue determined by it, which may be a venue beyond the seat of Parliament
- Meet on any and at any time, including –
- On a day which is not a working day
- On a day on which the Assembly is not sitting
- At a time when the Assembly is not sitting, or
- During a recess
- Exercise any other powers assigned to it by the Constitution, legislation, the other provisions of these rules or resolutions of the Assembly
A portfolio committee must:
- deal with Bills and other matters falling within its portfolio as are referred to in terms of the Constitution, legislation, National Assembly Rules, the Joint Rules or by resolution of the Assembly
- must maintain oversight of-
- the exercise within its portfolio of national executive authority, including the implementation of legislation,
- any executive organ of state falling within its portfolio
- any constitutional institution falling within its portfolio, and
- any other body or institution in respect of which oversight was assigned to it
- may monitor, investigate, enquire into and make recommendations concerning any such executive organ of state, constitutional institution or other body or institution, including the legislative programme, budget, rationalisation, restructuring, functioning, organisation, structure, staff and policies of such organ of state, institution or other body or institution
- may consult and liaise with any executive organ of state or constitution institution, and
- must perform any other functions, tasks or duties assigned to it in terms of the Constitution, legislation, these rules, the Joint Rules or resolutions of the Assembly, including functions, tasks and duties concerning parliamentary oversight or supervision of such executive organs of state, constitutional institutions or other bodies or institutions
THE DIFFERENT COMMITTEES OF PARLIAMENT
The National Assembly (NA) appoints from among its members a number of Portfolio Committees to shadow the work of the various national government departments.
The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) appoints from its permanent members a number of Select Committees to shadow the work of the various national government departments and to deal with Bills.
Because only 54 of the 90 NCOP Members are permanent delegates compared to the 400 of the NA, the Select Committees oversee the work of more than one national government department.
Public Accounts Committees
The National Assembly Standing Committee on Public Accounts acts as Parliament's watchdog over the way taxpayers' money is spent by the Executive. Every year the Auditor-General tables reports on the accounts and financial management of the various government departments and State institutions.
Heads of government departments and institutions are regularly called by this committee to report and account for expenditure. The Committee can recommend that the National Assembly takes corrective actions if necessary.
The National Assembly has a number of internal committees that deal with matters affecting the running of Parliament. The Committees normally consist of senior Members of Parliament. The Rules Committee and its sub-committees deal with House rules, the budget of the House, support for Members, internal arrangements, and powers and privileges of members. Other internal Committees are the Programme Committee that plans the work of the Assembly, the Disciplinary Committee, and the Committee of Chairpersons.
The National Council of Provinces has its own domestic Committees. The Rules Committee and its subcommittees deal with the NCOP rules, the NCOP budget, parliamentary privileges, internal arrangements, international relations and delegated legislation. The Programme Committee plans the work of the NCOP and the Committee of Chairpersons make recommendations about the functioning of Committees and other NCOP forums.
Ad hoc Committees
Parliament or one of its Houses may appoint an ad hoc (temporary) Committee when a special task must be done. When the task is complete, the Committee is dissolved.
The National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces together appoint a number of joint committees, for example the Constitutional Review Committee.
The Joint Standing Committee on Intelligence and the Joint Standing Committee on Defence are statutory Committees. This means that they are established, by the Constitution or by an Act of Parliament, as well as in terms of the rules of Parliament.
The committees play a very important role in the process of building democracy and involving the public in the processes and activities of Parliament.
There are no calls for comments at this time.
There are no questions at this time.
There are no bills related to this committee.