Chairperson, thank you very much to all the members who participated in this debate for their inputs. Again, thanks to the members of the committee, who did a sterling job in executing their legislative mandate by interacting with a wide range of stakeholders, who came to make important contributions to bettering this Bill. Also, a word of thanks to the officials in the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs who have done an excellent job of drafting this legislation, and also supporting the committee.
I need to thank members for the unity of purpose that has been demonstrated in this debate, because I have heard not one voicing any significant principled difference with this legislation. There have been points of criticism about certain aspects and clauses in the Bill, but I think all of us understand the importance of this Bill, which is to build a developmental democratic local government in our country.
Hon Groenewald has extended the courtesy of writing me a note to say that he unfortunately has a plane to catch and he would read my reply in Hansard. So, if the Hansard reporters are ready, I can tell them that ...
... die wit bul het gaan stemme werf. Ek stel voor dat hy daardie beeste bymekaar kry en die waardeerder-vastrap doen. [... the white bull went canvassing for votes. I propose that he rounds up those cattle and does the valuation "vastrap".]
The reality is that the fundamental principles of this legislation have been there for quite some time. This is not a sudden milking exercise, as the hon Groenewald has suggested. The amendments that have been made to this legislation have exactly been to strengthen fine tuning and make it more efficient, transparent and easy for our municipalities to implement, and I think it is succeeding in doing that.
Hon Steenhuisen raised four main points. To return the tribute to him, I think generally he sang a good song. There was some discordance, but I don't think that they are major. Firstly, with regard to section 8, which is the categorisation of properties, what we see in the Bill as finally devised by the committee, is a very good balance of intergovernmental relations, recognising the fundamental rights of local government to make those categorisations, but also the need for national government to set all norms and standards. So, we are not excluding the power of local government to make those categorisations, but we are saying they should come with good arguments to national government.
Secondly, with regard to the exemption of public service infrastructure, we have heard from both the President and the Minister of Finance that our country is investing billions, if not trillions of rands, in rolling out public infrastructure. For us to work at policy cross purposes, on the one hand taking public monies, investing them in that infrastructure, and on the other hand taxing the very same infrastructure, really does not make sense. What the legislation seeks to do is to strike a balance between our national developmental objectives and the needs of local government.
It is also significant that out of the 257 municipalities that have the power to levy property rates, 71 municipalities that responded to a targeted survey done by the National Treasury demonstrated that the financial implications of excluding public service infrastructure from the rating would be approximately R73 million, which is less than one percent. In any case, we have given local government quite a number of years to phase that in, and we trust that the impact will not be crippling.
Thirdly, I now come to section 32. With regard to the life of the valuation roll, indeed, for metro municipalities it has been extended to four years and for local municipalities it has been extended to five years. The reality is that property markets will vary considerably in different localities, and this is a reflection of a principle that is contained in the National Development Plan, namely that we need a differentiated approach to different municipalities. I think it caters for that.
Lastly, with regard to section 57 and the inclusion of the associated valuers on the appeal boards, first of all one must bear in mind that those associated valuers will be sitting, not alone, but as a body and as part of the collective to hear those appeals. Secondly, there is a very real and dire need to transform that profession, to make it more representative of both race and gender, and to expand it. This provision goes a long way to promoting that objective. Hon House Chair, it is a pity that Rules do not allow me to make use of hon Steenhuisen's time. Thank you very much. [Time expired.] [Applause.]
Question put: That the Bill be read a second time.