The Week Ahead: It's all about Budget Vote Debates

May 14, 2018 (1 week, 2 days ago)

It’s the second of week of budget debates in the National Assembly and the frenetic pace of Committee meetings and mini-plenary sessions continue.

On Tuesday, the Ministers of Trade and Industry, Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Labour, International Relations and Cooperation, Health, Public Works, Police, Public Enterprises and Mineral Resources will take to the podium to present their budgets. Their colleagues in the Energy, Home Affairs, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Public Service and Administration and Environmental portfolios will get their turn on Wednesday followed by Higher Education and Training, Tourism, Women, Telecommunications and Postal Services and Small Business Development on Thursday. The week will round off with the Ministers of Defence and Military Veterans and Transport delivering their speeches on Friday.

So far, the debates have followed a familiar pattern - some interesting announcements, a focus on radical economic transformation, some sniping and electioneering, accusations by the opposition that government is failing to deliver on its promises and eventually the budget vote being passed.

See the full 2018 budget vote debate schedule here

You will find all the budget vote speeches and responses here

Meanwhile, the NCOP is back to normal after a week-long local government week programme. The main chamber has scheduled a broad programme, which includes policy debates and the processing of assorted Bills and reports. Parliamentary staff will be kept busy keeping tabs and identifying all assurances, undertakings and commitments given by the Executive on the floor of the House. These will be referred to the Select Committee on Petitions and Executive Undertakings to pursue and follow up on. This is one of the mechanisms that Parliament uses to perform oversight over the Executive.

President Ramaphosa has written to the NCOP informing it that he is placing the entire North West government under the control of the national Executive in terms of section 100 (1) of the Constitution. The NCOP Chairperson is expected to table the President's letter in Parliament during this week.

Elsewhere, there is a relatively quiet-looking Committee corridor agenda - although there are several meetings that could generate big headlines. Here is a run down of the highlights:

On Tuesday, lawmakers will hear a presentation from Save the Children South Africa on the following topics: Results of Violence Against Children Costing Study, Key Prevention Activities to be implemented and Proposals on increasing political will to prevent violence against children

On Wednesday, SCOPA will meet with Eskom and other stakeholders to discuss defaulting municipalities. This is a follow-up engagement. In March, the Committee expressed concern about the accumulation of debt and the dangers mounting debt posed to the economy. At that earlier meeting, Eskom reported that municipal debts were so high that the debt owed impacted on electricity supply and had reached a point where the power utility had been cutting supply to municipalities that showed no willingness to pay their debts.

The budget will be in the spotlight when the Standing Committee on Appropriations holds a National Budget Dialogue with various invited stakeholders.

On Thursday, National Treasury will brief the Multi-Party Women’s Caucus on plans to implement the inclusion of sanitary products in the zero-rated list.

It’s a big legislative week with about a dozen Bills being processed and discussed by assorted Committees. There is a big legislative push for the remainder of the term as Parliament tries to clear the backlog ahead of the extended recess break. Bills under scrutiny this week include the iKamva National e-skills Institute Bill; National Forests Amendment Bill; NEMLA Bill; Traditional Courts Bill; National Credit Amendment Bill; Copyright Amendment Bill; National Minimum Wage Bill; Basic Conditions of Employment Bill; Labour Relations Amendment Bill; Road Accident Benefit Scheme Bill; Protection, Promotion, Development and Management of Indigenous Knowledge Bill and Appropriation 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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