New Act will Stiffen Resolve
The new Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act is a far-reaching legislative milestone that will afford Parliament powers to adjust the national budget, but it is by no means a “blank cheque”.
The Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations, Mr Elliot Sogoni, says there was a long delay in implementing the Act and this compromised Parliament’s oversight mandate over the executive. Now that the Act is in force, it is anticipated that it will help renew its oversight resolve.
However, he warned that the new Act was not a blank cheque: “The Bill has taken into considerations an appropriate balance of appropriation and strict fiscal discipline to ensure that Parliament makes rational decisions when it comes to expenditure, borrowing or debt servicing. But this workshop will also help ensure that Members are aware of how it will fit into the current budget circle,” Mr Sogoni said.
The Co-chairpersons of the Political Task Team Committee on Implementation of the Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act convened a joint National Assembly and the National Council of Provinces Committee Chairpersons’ workshop on 27 January to outline the Act’s scope and role within the current budget circle.
Co-chairperson of the Political Task Team Committee on Implementation of The Money Bills Amendment Procedures and Related Matters Act Mr Obed Bapela said the intent of the Act, which stems from the Constitution, was to help reconcile the Parliament’s legislative and the oversight mandate: “But this won’t be easy: hence this workshop for a needs analysis of its operational aspects.”
The Secretary to Parliament, Mr Zingile Dingani, said the logistical and strategic affairs of the Act would fall under a new Parliamentary Budget Office. “Parliament is currently in the process of establishment a Budget Office that will ensure that Parliament acquire requisite skills to fully effect the Act’s responsibilities and obligations within its given legislative and Constitutional framework.”
Mr Thabadiawa Mufamadi, Chairperson of Standing Committee on Finance, said the workshop had gone a long way in introducing Members of Parliament to the fiscal framework of the Act, in sensitizing them about the kind of training and the requisite skills needed to execute their new mandate.