The Week Ahead: There's a shortened programme

March 20, 2017 (4 days, 19 hours ago)

There's a distinct lull in Parliament this week and an unusual programme looms; with no sittings in the main chambers, a few meetings scheduled in the committee corridor and some committees devoting their time to oversight work across the country.

Oversight visits are a core part of an MP's work and is in line with Parliament's objective to hold the executive accountable.

Meanwhile, it is constituency week in the NCOP. During this period, delegates are expected to be available to the public, help solve problems and report back to their constituents on what is happening in national legislature.

Even with a public holiday to compress the parliamentary week, there is a fair bit of action scheduled into the available three days (Parliament is sitting from Wednesday to Friday) in committee-land. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The most significant event will be the planned series of meetings about the alignment of national and provincial spheres of government in the delivery of health services so as to ensure value for money, efficient planning and resource allocation. Some of the widely known challenges include infrastructure backlogs, shortage of doctors, poor patient care, long waiting times and shortage of medication and equipment – all of this leading to poor outcomes in the healthcare system. Universal access to good basic health care is a promise of this government and the NHI is meant to realise this. The meetings start on Wednesday and will be stretched out over three days.

The joint finance and trade and industry committees will hold another day of public hearings on transformation of the financial sector. During the debate on his SONA, President Zuma said government remained committed to diversification and transformation in the financial services sector to ensure new players are brought on board, instead of a small group of companies controlling the market. In January Yunus Carrim, Chairperson of the Finance Committee, told Business Day that there was a need for the sector to be transformed.

Parliament has been relentless in discussing the crisis facing the poultry industry. Since the start of the year, this subject has been discussed almost every week by a parliamentary committee. There is no exception this week - the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries will give its response to the issues raised by the South African Poultry Association and Food and Allied Workers Union about the matter. So far, lawmakers have voiced concern about chicken dumping, noting that farms are closing up and workers are being laid off.

On Thursday, it’s day 2 of the engagements between provincial departments of health and national department about the delivery of quality health services.

On Friday, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry will engage with several departments and entities - Transnet, PRASA, DPE, DOT- on challenges facing industry with respect to local procurement. Government has stated that public procurement is an important strategic vehicle for developing local industries, broadening economic participation and creating work. It has promised to use its R500 billion-per-year procurement programme to develop local industries, broaden economic participation and create jobs.

It’s the final day of the joint meeting on the state of healthcare. National Treasury and the Financial and Fiscal Commission are expected to make presentations.

But beyond the usual round of meetings, there is some detailed legislating as MPs consider the Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill, Administrative Adjudication of Road Traffic Offences (AARTO) Amendment Bill and Foreign Service Bill.

View the full schedule here.

*This summary is based on the schedule as it is published on Monday morning. The programme is subject to frequent updating so the link above needs to be checked daily to confirm the programme for the day.

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