The Week Ahead: It’s Budget Week!

Feb. 18, 2019 (1 month ago)

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni's budget speech on Wednesday will dominate headlines this week.

The Minister has a tough job to do as he seeks to address significant social challenges, reassure investors and satisfy public pressure ahead of the national election.

Low economic growth, revenue shortfalls and underperformance of State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) are some of the major challenges facing the country. Public finances are constrained, limiting the ability of government to expand its investment in economic and social development.

Against this backdrop, government has to do more with less and needs to be efficient in the use of financial resources.

The speech itself is designed to outline plans to spend scarce resources for the benefit of all South Africans and introduce new taxes. The speech will be accompanied with the tabling of several Bills: the Appropriation Bill, Division of Revenue Bill and Public Audit Excess Fee Bill.

Following on from the State of the Nation Address, the speech is expected to focus heavily on government’s plans to grow the economy (the economic stimulus and recovery plan) and fix broken SOEs.

In addition, there will be a lot of attention on the spending allocated to government’s social and infrastructure programmes and plans to reduce the budget deficit and public sector wage bill.

With a modest growth forecast for 2019 (1,3% according to the World Bank) and government revenue declining, all eyes will be on Minister Mboweni to see what balancing act he achieves.

A high-profile urgent debate about the crisis at Eskom will generate a lot of interest. The rules make it possible for individual Members to ask the Speaker to allow discussion of matters they consider of sufficient immediate public importance to take precedence over other programmed business in certain circumstances. In his SONA, the President highlighted that “Eskom is in crisis and the risks it poses to South Africa are great”. There is ongoing and debate about the long-term plan to restructure Eskom and deal with its debt obligations.

In keeping with this week’s theme lawmakers will also debate: Transforming the economy to serve the people.

Also dotting the NA plenary agenda is the passing of several Bills and Committee Reports.

Elsewhere, there is nothing scheduled in the NCOP chamber this week. The National House of Traditional Leaders will be officially opened for the 2019 business by President Cyril Ramaphosa on Tuesday.

There is some significant action in the Committee corridor. Here is a run down of the highlights:

The budget theme starts on Tuesday when the Joint Standing Committee on Appropriations, Select Committee on Appropriations, Standing Committee on Finance and Select Committee on Finance receive a pre-budget briefing by the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). Each year, the PBO provides independent and non-partisan analysis of the budget cycle, fiscal policy and financial implications of proposals ahead of the speech.

The Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs has scheduled a wide-ranging meeting: the agenda includes an update on the Fireblade Aviation agreement and a briefing by the Minister of Home Affairs on the uncollected IDs for the purpose of the elections. (Tuesday)

Legislators will be briefed on the properties and land parcels earmarked for land reform through the land restitution process. (Tuesday)

The plight of mining-affected communities will be in the spotlight when MPs are briefed by the SA Human Rights Commission on its hearings into this topic. (Wednesday)

A joint committee will hold a roundtable discussion on land reform (Beneficiary Selection and Landholding Entities) with the Presidential Advisory Panel. (Wednesday)

The Minister of Finance will brief the joint Finance and Appropriations Committees on the 2019 Budget. (Thursday)

The Police Committee will begin its work looking into the renewal or non-renewal of the contract of the IPID Head. A draft order of the North Gauteng High Court outlined the parties reached an agreement that the decision the Minister reached not to renew the contract is a preliminary one and must still be confirmed or rejected by the Portfolio Committee (Friday)

In between, there will be detailed lawmaking as MPs consider the following Bills: Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill; Private Member's Bill on the Regulation of Gathering Act (Adv Alberts); National Land Transport Amendment Bill; National Public Health Institute of South Africa Bill; Airports Company Amendment Bill; Air Traffic and Navigation Services Company Amendment Bill; Defence Amendment Bill; Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill; Repeal of the Overvaal Resorts Limited Bill; National Qualifications Framework Amendment Bill; Powers, Privileges and Immunities of Parliament and Provincial Legislatures Amendment Bill; National Credit 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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