The main source of parliamentary action this week will be in the National Assembly chamber as MPs debate the President’s State of the Nation Address. Members of Parliament will be afforded an opportunity to state their views on Tuesday and Wednesday and the President will get his turn to reply on Thursday. During last year’s debates (see here, here and here), opposition parties hit out at the President’s “failures” while he defended his record. This year’s exchanges are expected to be livelier as political parties take advantage of the opportunity to score points before the 2014 elections.
While most of the attention will be focused on the plenary, MPs are still occupied with committee work as they finalise bills and other outstanding work.
The main legislative event on Tuesday is the second reading of the Customs Duty Bill [B 43-2013] , Customs and Excise Amendment Bill [B44-2013], Customs Control Bill [B45-2013], State Attorney Amendment Bill [B52-2013], Science and Technology Amendment Bill [B36-2013] , South African Language Practitioners’ Council Bill [B14B-2013] and Private Security Industry Regulation Amendment Bill [B27B-2012].
Here is a run down of some of the most interesting meetings this week:
On Tuesday, the Department of Basic Education and the Council for Quality Assurance in General and Further Education and Training will brief the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education on the National Senior Certificate Results of 2013 as well as the 2013 Annual National Assessment Results.
The Department of Trade and Industry and National Lotteries Board: National Lottery will inform the Portfolio Committee on Sport and Recreation on the latter’s budget allocated to sport.
On the legislative front, deliberations will continue in respect of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Development Amendment Bill [B15-2013] and Women Empowerment and Gender Equality Bill [B50-2013].
On Wednesday, the Parliamentary Budget Office will conduct a pre-budget briefing with MPs. The Office was set up a year ago with the aim of providing "independent, objective and professional advice" to the institution’s portfolio committees on matters related to the budget and other money bills. Provision for the office was made in the Amendment of Money Bills Procedure and Related Matters Act, which was promulgated in 2009.
The Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises will get a progress report on the South African Airways’ Turnaround strategy. This comes amidst reports that the government had provided the state carrier with a R550 million bailout.
The topics for the Joint Committee on Rules include the Attendance Policy for Members of Parliament as well as the Progress report by Task Team on Public Participation.
In terms of legislation, the Department of Rural Development will brief MPs on the financial implications of the Restitution of Land Rights Amendment Bill [B35-2013].
On Thursday, there will be an energy stakeholder meeting to discuss the upstream sector in the oil and gas industry.
The following meeting, which should have taken place on Tuesday, has been postponed:
The Portfolio Committee on Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs will get a breakdown and age analysis of all debts owed to municipalities by Government. This comes in the wake of a 2013 statement released by the Government and Administration Cluster that government departments and state entities accounted for 4.9% or R4.2 billion of the total debt of R86.9 billion owed to municipalities.
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