ATC160921Progress Report of the Standing Committee On Finance on the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (Act No. 9 Of 2009), dated 21 September 2016
PROGRESS REPORT OF THE STANDING COMMITTEE ON FINANCE ON THE MONEY BILLS AMENDMENT PROCEDURE AND RELATED MATTERS ACT (ACT NO. 9 OF 2009), DATED 21 SEPTEMBER 2016
The Standing Committee on Finance reports as follows:
On 19 May 2016 the National Assembly adopted a resolution noting that a number of technical challenges have become apparent with the implementation of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act 9 of 2009) (the Act). The Assembly therefore instructed the Standing Committee on Finance to review the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, 2009 (Act 9 of 2009) (the Act) with a view to introduce amending legislation if necessary.
The resolution of the Assembly requires the Committee to:
- evaluate the application of the legislation including, but not limited to, the timeframes and sequencing associated with the different financial instruments and bills, the procedures to be developed in the rules;
- report on any other matter related to the implementation of the Act;
- confer with the Standing Committee on Appropriations; and
- report to the National Assembly on progress by 30 September 2016.
The Act came into operation on 16 April 2009. The procedure to amend money Bills in terms of the Act corresponds to the annual budget cycle and is aimed at ensuring effective oversight of the budget process. To do this, the Act sets out a procedure to amend the fiscal framework, money Bills and the Division of Revenue Bill.
However, the technical challenges referred to in the abovementioned resolution were apparent during the initial stages of implementing the Act.. Therefore the Assembly, in similar wording as the resolution referred to above, noted the challenges and instructed a review of the Act on 24 May 2012. The then Standing Committee on Finance reported on progress on 20 September 2012. Due to the workload of the then Committee and the national and provincial elections in 2014, no final report was submitted and no amending legislation was introduced.
The resolution of the Assembly of 19 May 2016 revived the process of review.
During April 2015 the Committee received a briefing from the Parliamentary Legal Advisors on the technical challenges that were discussed after the initial resolution of the Assembly in 2012. The mandate of the Committee to continue with the review has been confirmed by the 2016 resolution.
Since the adoption of the resolution on 19 May 2016, the Standing Committee on Finance has been engaged with oversight of various entities, including the Public Investment Corporation, Government Employees Pension Fund, National Treasury, including the Office of the Chief Procurement Officer, and SARS. The Committee was further required to consider various Bills, including the Financial Sector Regulation Bill, Draft Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, draft Taxation Laws Administration Amendment Bill, draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Bill and the draft Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill. These are major and complex Bills and run into over 360 pages.
The Committee received a further briefing from the Parliamentary Legal Advisors concerning the review of the Act on 2 September 2016.
The deadline for the Committee’s first progress report was set for 30 September in a resolution passed in the House on 19 May. The Committee was not consulted about the deadline. The National Assembly ended its quarterly term on 27 May 2016 and reconvened on 16 August. There were far too few sitting days of Parliament, especially in view of the Committee’s onerous legislative and oversight responsibilities, to make much progress.
- Technical challenges
The technical challenges in respect of timeframes and sequencing of different financial instruments and Bills – that collectively constitutes the annual budget and the adjustments budget – lie in the strict provisions in the Act to ensure coherence between these instruments and Bills in the event of an amendment. To illustrate, Parliament must adopt or pass the fiscal framework prior to referring the Division of Revenue Bill and Appropriation Bill to the relevant committees. Similarly, the Appropriation Bill may only be considered in full after the Division of Revenue Bill is passed by Parliament. Timeframes become very short and raise the risk of not facilitating meaningful public engagement on very important Bills.
In addressing this challenge, the Committee is reviewing the Act to ensure that the aim of coherence is achieved whilst giving effect to meaningful public involvement when considering the relevant Bills.
Challenges in co-ordinating the business of different committees involved in the budget process must be addressed in the rules of the respective Houses. Insofar as it might be necessary, the Committee will report on this matter for referral to the appropriate rules committees.
The establishment of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) in terms of section 15 of the Act has not been fully completed. Planning, budgeting, financial management and reporting proceeds through the administration of Parliament. The provisions of section 15 is not sufficient to create an entity that is funded through a transfer of funds, as envisaged in the Act. Therefore, the Committee is reviewing section 15 of the Act with the aim of ensuring compliance with the Act and alignment with the provisions of the Financial Management of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Act, 2009 (Act No. 10 of 2009).
Section 16 of the Act, read with the Schedule to the Act, provides for norms and standards for provincial legislatures. Section 120(3) of the Constitution provides that provincial legislatures must pass provincial legislation to set out a procedure to amend provincial money Bills. Section 116(1) of the Constitution provides that a provincial legislature may control and determine its internal arrangements, proceedings and procedures. Therefore, the Committee is reviewing section 16 of the Act to ensure consistency with the Constitution.
Lastly, the Committee was advised that the language used in the Act can be improved to be consistent with language used in parliamentary processes (e.g. definitions), to effect certain corrections (e.g. section 11(4)(c)) and to delete certain obsolete provisions (e.g. section 3).
5. Way forward
The Standing Committee on Finance resolved to review the Act through a workshop with all stakeholders on a future convenient date. The Committee will include all Finance cluster Committees in the process going forward once dates have been determined.
The Committee conferred with the Standing Committee on Appropriations through requesting the latter’s input on the draft report. The Standing Committee on Appropriations agreed on the technical challenges and way forward set out in this report.
The Standing Committee on Finance further resolved to report to the Assembly annually on progress.
Report to be considered.
No related documents