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Parliament, Tuesday 03 December 2019 – The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) at its plenary sitting today, passed two bills - Promotion of Access to Information Amendment (PAIA) Bill and the Border Management Authority(BMA) Bill, and also adopted the Report of the Select Committee on Finance on the State of Local Government Finances and Financial Management.

The Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill, seeks to amend the Promotion of Access to Information Act of 2000 (PAIA), to enable the recording, preservation and availing of information on the private funding of political parties and independent candidates. The Bill addresses the Constitutional Court judgement of 21 June 2018, which declared the Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA), Act No. 2 of 2000, invalid, to the extent that it is inconsistent with the Constitution on the disclosure of information about the private funding of political parties and independent candidates.

The Constitutional Court further ordered Parliament to amend PAIA and take any measures it deemed appropriate to provide for the recording and preservation of political parties’ funding information, giving Parliament 18 months within which to remedy the defect in the Act. The Bill was passed by the National Assembly (NA) after extensive public consultations by the Portfolio Committee on Justice and Correctional Services, and was referred to the NCOP for concurrence. The Promotion of Access to Information Amendment Bill will now be sent to the President for assent.

The Border Management Authority Bill aims to provide for the establishment, organisation, regulation, functions and control of the Border Management Authority (BMA). The Bill is amongst pieces of legislation that were processed by the 5th Parliament, and the NCOP passed a resolution on 17 October 2019 to revive the bill. The NCOP further agreed that proceedings should resume from the stage at which they had ended. Since the Select Committee on Security and Justice proposed amendments to the Bill, which the NCOP passed today, the Bill will now be returned to the National Assembly for concurrence.

At the same sitting, the NCOP also adopted the Report of the Select Committee on Finance on the State of Local Government Finances and Financial Management. The report urges National Treasury to, amongst others, put measures in place to hold politicians and officials at municipalities accountable for financial misconduct and implement consequence management in cases of non-compliance.

The Auditor General’s 2017/2018 audit outcomes for municipalities revealed that about 74 percent of municipalities did not adequately follow up on allegations of financial and supply chain management misconduct or fraud, whilst 45 percent of municipalities did not have all the required mechanisms for reporting and investigating transgressions or possible fraud.

The Select Committee was tasked to advise the NCOP on measures to assist National Treasury in dealing with financial and supply-chain management problems experienced by the municipalities. The Select Committee report recommends that National Treasury should ensure that the municipalities employ competent people to carry out their constitutional mandate and ensure that quality services are delivered to the people as budgeted for.

The Select Committee noted that the decisions taken by the Demarcation Board to merge some municipalities had unintended consequences of regression in performance of municipalities. It recommended that the Demarcation Board should engage National Treasury, as it seemed not to be adequately capacitated in making changes and mergers of municipalities.

The Committee also raised concerns about under-collection of revenue at some local municipalities. It also noted that lack of consequences for poor revenue management, perpetuates the problems at a municipal level, while lack of incentives for achieving clean audits apparently demotivated some municipalities, resulting in performance decline. It further recommended that there should be consequences for municipalities which received disclaimers and qualified audit outcomes to encourage them to improve. The Select Committee says National Treasury could achieve better outcomes by implementing incentive and punitive measures through its budget approval processes and its oversight role over the finances of municipalities.

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