Process to Put Legislation in Place to Amend a Money Bill
Since the matter was raised during the debates on the Main Appropriation Bill during March of this year in this House, I have taken the following steps to initiate the process of putting such legislation in place:
- I have directed the Provincial Treasury to engage the National Treasury to provide guidance on the matter. This was done and we have received a reply dated 12 July 2017.
- In addition, I have approached the National Treasury to enrol this matter as an Agenda Item at the meeting of the Budget Council.
- Furthermore, my office has approached the Office of the Speaker of the Western Cape Parliament with a view to raise the matter at the Speakers Forum. I was informed that this was done at their meeting of last week. This was done specifically to identify whether the Executive or the Legislature should take responsibility for introducing such legislation.
- We have consulted our own Legal Services, as well as the National Parliamentary Legal Advisors, who have provided advice to guide us on the process to be adhered to.
What has emerged from all of our consultations was the following:
- Legislation to amend a Money Bill resort under the rubric of what is referred to as Legislation in terms of the Accountability and Oversight Role entrusted to Parliament.
- As such the sponsor of the legislation should be the relevant Legislature itself and not the Executive. This was the case with the National Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act 2009, Act 9 of 2009. It was initiated by Parliament and not the Minister of Finance. This was confirmed by National Treasury and the Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisors.
- This is also in line with the advice given to the Budget Committee on 24/03/2017 by Provincial Treasury. I also made a similar recommendation during the Debates on the Main Appropriation in March of this year.
- Parliament is currently in the process of amending the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009. Once more, it is initiated by the National Legislature and not the Executive. A draft amendment bill will be gazetted tomorrow. We were advised that the Western Cape Parliament should await the outcome of this process, as it may impact on any legislation you may want to initiate in this regard. Obviously, the Western Cape Parliament should utilise the opportunity to comment on the draft national amendment bill, once published.
This legislature should be mindful of Chapter 15 of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act of 2009.
It establishes the Parliamentary Budget Office, which has the mandate to provide independent, objective and professional advice and analysis to Parliament on matters related to the Budget and other money Bills. Prof Mohammed Jahed, formerly from Wits University, has been appointed as Director to head up the National Parliamentary Budget office.
Such an office should be capable of amending the Schedules to the Main Appropriation Bill in line with the fiscal framework and the principles enunciated in section 8 of the Act. The establishment of such an office would have to be budgeted for in the Speaker’s Vote. It provides another rationale for the Legislature to take responsibility for this legislation.
We were also advised that the amendments to be published tomorrow will elevate the position of the Head of the Budget Office to that of an Accounting Officer and the Budget Office is to be a separate juristic person. The requirements of the Director will be considerably expanded on.
In addition, the new National Amendment Bill, will seek to improve on the time-frames imposed in the original Act, as well as amending significant definition clauses, such as “fiscal framework”, we were informed.
It will also, so we are informed, bring clarity to what a report of the committee of the Provincial Legislature, who proposes amendments to a money bill, should contain. These include inter-alia the impact amendments will have on the balance between transfer payments, capital and recurrent spending in an affected vote.
This is my considered view that the Provincial Parliament and its supporting structures should await the finalisation of the new Amendment Bill and proceed with circumspection. It should balance its endeavours between the constitutional imperative and informed research, as well as what is practically achievable in a severly constrained fiscal environment.
The responsibility lies with the Legislature, but we will obviously support you and provide advice whenever required, through SCOF and the Budget Committee.
I respect the seperation of powers and since this a mandate of the legislative arm of government I cannot take the lead on this matter.
I thank you.