The Committee reviewed its report on the Appropriation Bill, and raised concern about the lack of tracking mechanisms, which hampered their ability to fully conduct their oversight responsibilities. As a result, in its recommendations, the Committee said the Parliamentary Budget Office should avail its services to portfolio committees for advisory services as soon as they realise a committee’s actions may impact Money Bills. This would assist Parliament in ensuring that contemplated changes were done following the law.
The Committee also considered a letter written to the Committee by the Speaker of the National Assembly on the Recommendations emanating from its report on Tourism, Budget Vote 38. The letter stated that Budget Vote 38 for Tourism must be approved, but no further funds must be transferred to South African Tourism (SAT) until conditions are met. The Committee referred the letter to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) for advice, which provided recommendations to the Committee.
The 2023 Appropriation Bill and report on the Bill were adopted.
Consideration of Appropriation Bill: Tourism Budget Vote
The Committee met to consider the Appropriation Bill [B3-2023], which was a culmination of a process started by the Minister of Finance, as presented in Parliament.
In considering the Bill, a letter received by the Committee from the Speaker of the National Assembly was tabled.
The Speaker had also written to the Committee on the Recommendations emanating from its report on Tourism, Budget Vote 38. The letter stated that Budget Vote 38 for Tourism must be approved, but no further funds must be transferred to South African Tourism (SAT) until the following conditions had been met:
- The target in the annual performance plan of SAT has been revised;
- The vacancies at the executive level of SAT were filled; and
- The delegation of authority taken by the Board in the letter of 27 April 2023 had been reversed and given back to the executives at South African Tourism.
The letter further stated that the budget may be amended only through a procedure set out in the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act, No 9 of 2009.
The Committee referred the letter to the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) for advice, which provided recommendations to the Committee. As a result, the PBO agreed to brief the Committee on their recommendations.
Parliamentary Budget Office's recommendations
Dr Dumisani Jantjies: Head: Parliamentary Budget Office, presented the PBO's recommendations, based on the Speaker’s letter.
Looking at the Committee’s budget reports and deliberations, there were governance and oversight matters raised about the Department of Tourism and South African Tourism (SAT). These were issues that a body like Parliament would expect to be raised, and expect accountability from the Department and the agency in this regard. Whilst the PBO was not privy to all the engagements, as it came on board much later, it was of the view that the Department and SAT had not addressed the oversight matter raised by the Portfolio Committee of Tourism at a satisfactory level.
The PBO's advice was that the Portfolio Committee on Tourism had limited authority in terms of the Money Bills regarding the Budget Report -- the authority lay with the Standing Committee on Appropriations. However, regarding broad oversight, the Portfolio Committee on Tourism may use the report, as it had the authority to subpoena the Department and SAT on matters it deemed appropriate, as it plays an oversight role.
The PBO believed that the Money Bills Act had to be implemented, as it allowed Parliament to implement the budget.
When the time comes, there had to be clear processes, mechanisms and rules that allowed an engagement between the Portfolio Committee and Appropriations Committee.
The specific questions for consideration by the Portfolio Committee on Tourism were firstly, whether transfers between the Department and SAT could be considered departmental-divisional transfers or not, and secondly, whether matters raised the amount to the conditional appropriations to be considered within the ambit of the Money Bills Act.
The PBO therefore advised the Portfolio Committee on Tourism as follows:
- The Money Bills Act does not necessarily provide clarity on sub-division, although Section 10.5 of the Act refers to it in considering proposed conditional allocations in this regard. In this regard, provision of section 10.5 of the Act cannot be used without a specific division and clarity.
- Although the transfers to SA Tourism may not be regarded as a conditional grant, it was unclear if the Accounting Officer of SA Tourism had attached any conditions to any departmental transfers or payment schedules. The Accounting Officer could place more measures to provide oversight in this regard.
- Concerning the matters raised by the Portfolio Committee on Tourism, the Committee should consider other legislation and regulatory frameworks to realise the objectives of imposing conditions on SAT transfers.
Mr X Qayiso (ANC) acknowledged the PBO's recommendations, and proposed they be accepted as they were.
Mr N Kwankwa (UDM) expressed a view that the Committee needed to help Parliament develop a process on how to deal with instances where a Portfolio Committee wants to make amendments to the Appropriations Bill. The PBO had a central and critical role to play for Committees when they would like to make such changes. The Office should serve as a guide, as this would minimise issues of the Appropriations Committee being made to deal with matters over which they have no power.
Dr Jantjies acknowledged that the Money Bills Act enabled Parliamentary Committees to engage on the possibility of proposing amendments. He said that the rules would allow a process for Portfolio Committees to indicate to the Standing Committee on Appropriations the budgetary concerns that exist. He agreed on the need for the PBO to support a Portfolio Committee when they would like to make changes to the Appropriations Bill, and to avail the Office's services in providing guidance.
The Chairperson concluded the matter, commenting that it did not affect the Standing Committee on Appropriations budgetary process, and said that a responding letter would be sent to the Speaker of Parliament conveying these sentiments.
Motion of desirability
The Committee considered a motion of desirability for the Appropriation Bill.
The Committee found the legislation desirable, and Mr O Mathafa (ANC) moved its adoption, seconded by Mr Z Mlenzana (ANC).
The Democratic Alliance, through Mr E Marais, reserved its position on the Motion of Desirability.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, through Ms N Ntlagwini, and the United Democratic Movement, through Mr Nkwankwa, abstained.
The motion of desirability was adopted.
Draft Report on Appropriation Bill [B3 – 2023]
See report contents here https://pmg.org.za/tabled-committee-report/5405/
Mr Mlenzana asked how much in Rand value the 11% total allocation to the Cooperative Governance vote, which was referred to in the Committee Findings and Recommendations, amounted to.
Based on the recommendations suggested by Mr Nkwankwa, the Committee, in its report, had recommended that:
(i) The PBO should develop a template and share it with the Portfolio and Select Committees, detailing the process to follow when considering something which may result in the amendment of Money Bills, including the Appropriations Bills.
(ii) the Committees must consult the PBO for advice as soon as they realise their actions may have an impact on the Money Bills. This would assist Parliament in ensuring that contemplated changes were done following the law.
Mr Qayiso suggested that the Department of Water and Sanitation should intervene to help the situation at the provincial and local departments, especially when it was clear that the provincial and local government departments had no human or financial capacity.
Mr A Shaik Emam (NFP) further added a recommendation that the National Treasury:
(i) should make it mandatory for all spheres of government to report monthly on all contracts that have been awarded their Rand value on National Treasury's database;
(ii) must bi-annually ensure all local municipalities report on the status of the municipalities. The Members were finding cash reserves in municipalities as a problem, and the state of the municipalities was revealed only when major problems were encountered, such as an inability to pay salaries. Therefore the Standing Committee should receive these financials bi-annually.
(iii) must report to the Standing Committee on Appropriations on the latest developments as far as the Integrated Financial Management System (IFMS) was concerned, those that had been brought to book, how many had been charged, and whether there had been any final verdicts.
The Public Service Commission (PSC) should also identify all public servants receiving two salaries and were employed in two government departments, as this should not be happening -- yet it was a common occurrence.
The Chairperson allowed deliberations from Members, as this was the last meeting to deal with the Appropriation Bill.
The proposed report was adopted with amendments.
The Economic Freedom Fighters and United Democratic Movement abstained from adopting the 2023 Appropriation Bill, which would be forwarded to the House.
The meeting was adjourned.
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