Parliament resumes this week after a two-week constituency period. The fourth term will run for seven weeks and the programme is packed with activities. Some of the highlights include committee, oversight and legislative work; oral questions to the executive and a review of the national budget.
Later this month, the Minister of Finance will present the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to the National Assembly, together with the Adjustments Appropriation Bill. 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 Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009 introduced the preparation of budgetary review and recommendation reports (BRRRs) by parliamentary committees. These reports may include recommendations on the future use of resources and are a critical part of Parliament’s engagement with the budget for the following year where the Minister of Finance must respond to these recommendations when the budget is tabled. Committee preparations of their budgetary review and recommendation reports begin in earnest this week, with committees hearing from the office of the auditor-general, stakeholders and government departments and entities on the latter’s financial performance for 2014/15.
MPs are expected to do some heavy legislative lifting this term as there are 22 bills before the legislature, with more expected during the term. The Expropriation Bill, Traditional and Khoi-San Leadership Bill and Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill are some of the more contentious bills that will be considered.
There are also some internal matters to be resolved – this includes the finalisation of the NA Rules, hearings into the removal of Mr Malema from the NA Chamber and the adoption and publishing of MP financial disclosures. New shadow ministers and aspiring party leaders will be seeking to make an impression on parliamentary colleagues and the wider public. We're also in the season where debates, speeches, questions and statements target hot button electoral issues as everyone looks forward to the 2016 local governemnt elections.
With only one plenary sitting arranged this week, all eyes will be on committee-land where the schedule is bursting. MPs will certainly be earning their pay as most meetings are scheduled to last all day, with many even running into the evening. Here is a rundown of the highlights:
On Tuesday, lawmakers will meet with, amongst others, SARS, IEC and the SAPS on their 2014/15 annual reports.
On Wednesday, the Departments of Mineral Resources, Justice and Correctional Services, Public Enterprises and Rural Development and Land Reform will appear before legislators to account on their performance in the previous financial year.
On Thursday, MPs will interact with the NPA, SIU and the Department of Economic Development.
On Friday, the Police committee will begin deliberations on the Rule 201 inquiry. The committee initiated the inquiry and adopted its Terms of Reference to look into the statements released by senior management of the SAPS and provincial commissioners in support of National Commissioner, Riah Phiyega, following the release of the Farlam Commission report into the Marikana Massacre. The Inquiry will be looking into the issuing of these statements with specific reference to a meeting of the Board of Commissioners on 15 and 16 July 2015.
On the legislative front, MPs will consider the Expropriation Bill, Criminal Matters Amendment Bill, Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, Tax Administration Laws Amendment and Medicines and Related Substances Amendment Bill.
You can find the full list of meetings here.
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