House Chair, hon Minister Nzimande, hon members, fellow South Africans, the Deputy President, it gives great pleasure to present the committee report and to participate in this debate on the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill 42 of 2018.
The Bill was introduced and referred to the Fifth Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Science and Technology on 1 November 2018. On 5 December 2018, in terms of the joint rule 160 sub-rule 6 the joint taking mechanism classified the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill as a section 75 Bill.
The committee calls for public submissions on the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill from the 1 to 15 February 2019. However, because the Bill focuses exclusively on the operational and administrative governance procedures of the entities that report to the Department of Science and Innovation, no submissions were received from the public. The process to consider the amendment proposed by the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill was done in collaboration with the Parliament's Legal Services, the Office of the State Law Advisor and the Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. The Department of Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation exempted the department from the application of the socioeconomic impact assessment in respect of the Bill since it did not directly affect the public.
The department briefed the committee on the Bill on 20 February 2019, two of the committee meetings on 27 and 6 March were dedicated to the clause by clause consideration and the adoption of the clause by clause amendments and the committee's report on the Bill, which the committee's report on the Bill and the allies were published on 11 March 2019.
However, the committee's report was not considered by the NA due to the conclusion of the of the Fifth Parliament's term. The Bill was subsequently revived by this August House of the Sixth Parliament last year on 29 October and referred to the Portfolio Committee on Higher Education Science and Technology.
Following the briefing by the department on 20 November, the committee considered the Bill and the amendments effected by the previous portfolio committee and we are satisfied that the substance and the processes followed are in order and therefore are confident that this House can adopt the Science and Technology Amendment Bill as adopted.
The objectives of the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill are to ensure that the same governance principles and operational procedures are applied across the public entities that report to the Department of Science and Innovation. In doing so, to negate the inconsistent, inadequate and uncoordinated management of these entities, each of which have their own principle acts. The standardisation of governance and operational procedures of the public entities that report to the department allows the department to efficiently manage its administrative relationship with entities as well as more effective and strategic oversight of the entity boards and council.
It also affords the department through the Minister a voice in the appointment of the entity's Chief Executive Officers and ensuring fiduciary responsibility with regard to the remuneration and allowance of board and council members and their committees.
The so called harmonisation has started by the department during the fourth term of Parliament and has so far resulted in two amendment acts being passed and that is the Science and Technology Laws Amendment 16 of 2011 and the Science and Technology Laws Amendment Act 7 of 2014. The current Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill specifically focus on the following five principal acts which are: the 2001 Academy of Science of South Africa Act; the 2008 Human Science Research Act 1998; the Science Research Council Act of 2008; the South African National Space Agency Act; and the Technology Innovation Act.
The Bill seeks to standardise the processes for the termination of the membership of the boards or council, clarify the requirements for the disqualification of persons of membership of council and provide for the appointment of external persons to committees.
It also ensures that the Minister responsible for science and innovation can determine the remuneration and allowances of the boards and council and their allowance.
The 1996 White Paper on science and technology introduced a concept of a national system of innovation which is defined as a network of institutions, organisations and policies that work together to achieve a common set of social and economic goals and objectives for the development of science and technology in our country.
The department is responsible for developing, coordinating and managing the system of innovation together with the eight entities. However, 23 years after the promulgation of the 1996 White Paper on Science and Technology and following a number of reviews of the national system of innovation in the 1996 White Paper, including the recent approval by Cabinet of a new White Paper on Science and Technology and Innovation in March 2019, the various reviews of the National System of Innovation, NSI, and the White Paper show that despite significant progress, challenges remain in attaining the ideal in the 1996 White Paper. Therefore, South Africa is not yet fully benefited from the potential Science, Technology and Innovation, STI, to advance the economy and improve the livelihoods of its citizens.
Key challenges constraining the performance of NSI are the inadequate and collaborative means of national STI agenda sitting, insufficient policy coherence, coordination, weak partnership and so forth.
Now, a notable observation from the 2016/17 research and experimental development survey show that higher education sector was the largest contributed to the overall increase in the gross expenditure on research and development of R827 million in constant 2010 values. The higher education sector contributed an amount of 790 to the increase in research and development. The research and development in the business sector increased by only 0.2% with State-owned enterprises, SOEs, contributing R365 million which is calculated in constant 2010 values to this. The private that is business sector excluding the SOEs showed a decrease in research and development expenditure in constant 2010 values. The government sector decreased by 2.4%, whereas the science sector showed a marginal growth.
Therefore it is our call hon members to the business sector that they need to up their games and increase the investment in research and development so that the country is able to attain the 1.4% expenditure on the Gross domestic product, GDP, by 2019. We believe that this Science and Technology Laws Amendment Bill will contribute significantly towards that increase in research and development. I thank you
Ms C V KING / M.A Sekhonyane 02/03/2020 @10:10 / TAKE ENDS AT 14:28