Committees will continue examining government departments and state entities on their 2014/15 Annual Reports in preparation of their Budgetary Review and Recommendations Reports. These reports may include proposals on the future use of resources and are a critical part of Parliament’s engagement with the budget for the following year.
The National Assembly has scheduled its first plenary sitting for the final term. All eyes will be on the Minister of Finance as he presents the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS), together with the Adjustments Appropriation Bill on Wednesday. The MTBPS outlines the economic context against which the 2016 budget is being formulated and sets out the spending framework for the next three years. It is an opportunity for government to modify expenditure and revenue patterns so that delivery is accelerated.
The Minister has a tough job to do as he seeks to address significant social challenges and reassure investors about the country’s growth prospects. During his budget speech earlier this year, he said that “the National Treasury forecast for economic growth in 2015 remains unchanged at 2%”. Commentators expect the Minister to announce revised growth forecasts, in line with the IMF and World Bank, who reduced their estimates to 1.4% and 1.5% respectively. This downward revision is partly because of a weak global environment as well as internal factors such as energy constraints, labour market disruptions; skills shortages, administrative shortcomings and subdued business confidence.
Elsewhere, the NCOP has arranged a sitting to consider assorted items. Delegates will also debate a Provincial Week Report titled Advancing infrastructure investment and development for better services to communities.
Even though there is a lack of variety in the committee meeting agendas, there are still some meetings that will generate a lot of talking points. Here is my rundown of the highlights:
On Tuesday, the Portfolio Committee on Trade and Industry and the Portfolio Committee on Public Works will continue with their deliberations on the Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill and Exprorpiation Bill respectively.
The SABC, FPB, MDDA and ICASA will be in the spotlight when they appear before lawmakers to present their 2014/15 Annual Reports. With concerns about plans to regulate the internet, institute a media appeals tribunal, the slow pace of digital migration and media transformation, there will be plenty to talk about at the meeting.
On Wednesday, the Police Committee will deliberate on the Rule 201 Inquiry it established to look into the issuing of statements in support of the suspended police commissioner.
The Department of Rural Development and Land Reform will present the Extension of Security Tenure Amendment Bill to legislators for the first time. The proposed law aims to provide greater security for tenants on farms and to clarify who has a right to stay on them.
On Thursday, the Minister of Finance will brief a joint Appropriations and Finance committee on the 2015 MTBPS.
On Friday, National Treasury will brief legislators on the 2015 Division of Revenue bill and the 2015 Adjustments Appropriation Bill.
You can find the full list of meetings here.
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