Tag Archive | Minister Pravin Gordhan

Second fiasco before Zuma’s SONA address…

Fools go where angels fear to tread…SONA..

The theatrics before the SONA address in front of the world by Julius Malema of EFF, the partyHouses_of_Parliament_(Cape_Town) which objects to the Expropriation Bill on the basis that no compensation should be paid at all for land expropriated, has once again demeaned South Africa.

As if this poor nation had not suffered enough already from the giddy behaviour of the government towards foreigners over visas, land ownership, AGOA, intellectual copyrights and international agreements, the EFF has again sent to them the message that the country might well be ungovernable.

Core issues

ZumaWhy President Zuma should have fired Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene and replaced him with Minister David van Rooyen is not of the slightest interest to South Africa going forward. The fact is he did and the result is that Minister Pravin Gordhan has his finger in the dyke. To know what was in the mind of President Zuma when he pronounced this change is to go down a very dark road and serves no parliamentary purpose at all, other than curiosity.

It appeared that the EFF really got it wrong this time when trying to disrupt Parliamentary procedure before SONA and the Speaker of House didn’t do much better either. In any case, the EFF was mysteriously upstaged by Patrickpatrick lekota Lekota and COPE walking out and an hour of the nation’s time lost, together with a good deal of national credibility.

In fact, it was no better than a performance under the Boswell Wilkie big top, our nation’s famous circus which sadly had its last performance in December 2015, but at least its traditions have been preserved.

Stop the side shows

WYSIWYG or “what you see is what you get” is how things work in parliamentary portfolio committees and before us we see Minister Pravin Gordhan at the pump head because of ANC malfunctions and because of an attempt to reign in the President before his cabinet ministers do any more harm to the economy.

So, in parliamentary terms, it is important that all get back to normal issues of whether or not business and industry agrees with the legislation tabled before Parliament; to continue to “get voices heard” and to determine whether government policy, in terms of mining, manufacturing, finance and banking, is giving the country the breaks it needs to score at the try line.

That is what Parliament is really about but dealing with the EFF is much like dealing with a family hooligan who hasEFF SONA just been given a new motor bicycle.

Fitch, Moodys, Standard & Poor

Such matters as firepools, the upgrading of chicken runs and the influence of various moneyed persons are of great interest to Malema, the EFF and gossip columns. However, the main issues involve the loss of billions of rands being misspent; obdurate government inaction coupled with incompetence; and whether South Africa can restore its economic image, reduce its debt and turn the fiscus around.

clem-sunterThe only road forward (and the only issue to march for in the streets) is for people to have jobs; jobs with skills that contribute towards economic output; jobs that increase tax input by employers making profits and jobs therefore that reduce the national deficit. That means investing in people and creating those skills. Its seems so long ago that Clem Sunther said this when describing the “High Road”.

Roll up the shirt sleeves

There are other forums to address the issues brought up by the EFF, especially matters regarding the re-incarnation of the office of Thusi Madonsela. To drag the Constitutional Court into the political arena is indeed a sad reflection of what political parties put first. As business heads have said, let’s stop this nonsense and put into action plans to save the economy.

At least President Zuma has acknowledged the superb effort by business leaders to avert the course being plotted by the present Cabinet. Creating more jobs in the public service is not the answer to job creation. Sadly, for those involved, this exercise of non-productive job creation in the public service must shrink urgently.

Now let’s see what the Budget produces and whether what President Zuma has said, after a ruler has been brought down across his knuckles, can be translated into practice.  (go to SONA article) History teaches us that leaders can emerge in times of trouble but a nation wearied of unfulfilled departmental targets and broken promises now awaits the outcome of a belt tightening budget.

previous articles in this category

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/cabinetpresidential/zuma-vs-parliament/

http://parlyreportsa.co.za/earlier-stories/state-of-the-nation/

Posted in earlier editorials0 Comments

Minister Gigaba to line up Eskom for carbon tax

SOE’s in for carbon tax on climate response….

Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba, without mentioning carbon tax specifically, has launched a climate change policy framework for state-owned enterprises (SOEs) that seeks to align their climate response with the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) on carbon emissions.   South Africa is a signatory to the UNGC and to the ten  UNGC principles which include human rights, labour, climate response and anti-corruption.

Principle seven states that business should support a precautionary approach to environmental challenges; principle eight says the signatory will undertake initiatives to promote greater environmental responsibility; and principle nine encourages the development and diffusion of environmentally friendly technologies. Minister Gigaba enumerated these.

The UN’s ten principles we are to follow

The minister said, “The UNGC calls companies everywhere to voluntarily align their operations and strategies with the ten universally accepted principles in areas  which include greenhouse gas emissions”.

The minister’s statement is featured  on SA government’s news site, and quotes the minister as stating , amongst other things, that it was “strategic” for South African business corporations to align their operations with  UNGC and their principles.

In aligning the newly launched policy framework for  state owned enterprises along similar lines, he says government will develop a detailed strategic plan in relation to climate change that includes “green economy considerations in operational decisions”.

The minister referred to four key design principles informing the policy framework, including the need for SOEs to focus on the overlap between commercial, economic, developmental and environmental objectives whilst carefully managing areas where these objectives conflict.

SOEs include…….

It emerged during the debate that certain state-owned enterprises (SOEs) have already endorsed the global compact, which, according to SAnews were, Denel, Transnet, Eskom, SAA, Broadband Infraco, Safcol and SA Express.

This agreement with UNGC appears to be one of the “global agreements which finance minister Pravin Gordhan referred to in his parliamentary budget vote speech when he gave his reasons for proposing a carbon tax, one of these and the main reason being to “change behaviour towards emissions”.     This  is also the keynote point of the recent treasury updated Carbon Tax Policy Paper out for public comment and which follows the much earlier discussion paper of 2010, “Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions: The Carbon Tax Option”.

“Recycling” of carbon tax rather

Minister Pravin Gordhan told parliamentarians recently that the “full earmarking” (or ring fencing) of specific tax revenue streams are not in line with sound fiscal management practices.     However, the efficient recycling of revenue, his deputy Cecil Morden said, was if mechanisms for structural adjustment revising greenhouse gas mitigation (GHG) is to be possible.   Morden said, ” A carbon tax will be introduced as part of a package of interventions to ensure that the primary objective of GHG mitigation is achieved”.

Public enterprises minister Malusi Gigaba’s recent speech therefore presumably means that he has every intention of following the minister of finance’s speech in making Eskom pay carbon tax, or as Cecil Morden said, “mechanisms for structural adjustment revising greenhouse gas mitigation”.

 

Posted in Electricity, Energy, Enviro,Water, Finance, economic, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Labour : nobody at top biting the bullet

Parliamentary labour committee gives hint…..

mildred-oliphantLabour Minister Mildred Oliphant said in her budget vote speech that she would meet with the trade union leadership to discuss the “adversarial nature” of the country’s industrial relations and explore ways to arrest the “potential threat” to the system of collective bargaining. With the Nedlac process under scrutiny, South Africa heads towards an election with a Parliament not quite sure what is really happening.

Meanwhile, after months of painstaking negotiations and re-drafting of South Africa’s new labour laws and with the amendments under the Labour Relations Act nearing finalisation and adoption, suddenly an adversarial attitude was also adopted by the governing alliance members over contentious and much argued about issues such as labour broking.

So, with attitudes hardening, business has again lost track of indicators regarding government’s views on labour matters. A swing to the left was previously the concern but as political commentators now note, a swing to the nationalistic right is even more worrying.

What relevance then her speech?

Minister Oliphant  also said in her address that her department would host a labour relations indaba to enable stakeholders and role-players to engage regarding the future of collective bargaining in South Africa but a reading of recent parliamentary views stated by ANC MPs would change the ground rules for such an engagement yet again. Quite clearly, with an election forthcoming, the pack of cards has suddenly been thrown into the air. Oliphant continued…….

“We want to generate greater interests and concerns of social partners in respect of labour relations conflict, and identify measures to strengthen labour relations and dialogue to achieve labour market stability and peace,”  adding that the department of labour (DoL) was working closely with NEDLAC and the CCMA to achieve this.

Smoky glass

The minister noted that her budget vote took place at a critical time, when South Africa was entering the collective bargaining season, which seemed a pretty pointless thing to say and then compounded the totally inert contribution by adding that “Looking at the year ahead, that all stakeholders will  have to work together to achieve a peaceful environment in labour relations and collective bargaining.”

Finance waves a finger at somebody

pravon gordhanShortly afterwards when introducing the debate on his budget vote in the National Assembly, finance minister Pravin Gordhan said South Africa “was at a cross-roads over renewed labour unrest in the mining sector” and something needed to be done or the country would lose jobs and investor confidence, and companies would close. ‘

In his medium term budget statement, he was at pains to re-assure the investing community that budget deficits were under control and that SA was walking the big talk. But there was no reference to the big issue. A bloated public service, way out of proportion to the size of the community in South Africa, has a  pay rise coming.  This is more than a bump in the road head, it massive pothole to be negotiated.

“Concerted action by organised labour, business, civic leaders, and government is needed in the coming months , said the minister. “There is no role for complacency here”, he warned. Gordhan reiterated that labour unrest and stoppages at mines contributed “to much of the weaker economic performance in 2012”, which was compounded by job growth of only one percent.

“We are all in this together. If we do not resolve our labour relations challenges we will be losers. We will see deteriorating confidence, job losses, and business failures.”

Finding sensible solutions, Gordhan said, to the labour strife would benefit all. “But if we find a balanced, fair, socially responsible solution, we all stand to gain and we will see higher investment, higher employment, and improvements in living conditions. This is the choice that lies before us.”

Misfire, or was it?

zuma2Then spoke President Zuma in a special extra parliamentary speech from Pretoria, who also called on mining participants in the wage talks to play a stronger role, saying government could not take sides in the turf war between unions. His continued reference to the minister of finance’s speech earlier in Parliament was the anchor point of what he had to say, which it turned out to be very little.

In the meanwhile, minister in the presidency responsible for performance monitoring and evaluation, Collins Chabane, told parliamentarians in his budget vote speech that the National Development Plan (NDP), endorsed by COSATU or not, would form the basis of strategic framework for the next five years for government focus, the NDP forming the basis of nearly twenty budget votes speeches in Parliament in the last three weeks.

The apparent focus by government on the NDP and COSATU’s renewed platform of referring back to the Freedom Charter, was also evident during a speech by Trevor Manuel, minister of planning and one of the main architects of the NDP, who told his audience “We should guard against be waylaid by all manner of self-serving agendas that direct us away from building the desirable plan”.

VaviMeanwhile, Zwelinzima Vavi, general secretary of COSATU, told his audience, “Four out of ten people are unemployed and 19 years after democracy, we have become the protest centre of the world, a country still far from achieving the economic demands of the Freedom Charter.” He told his audience there was a lot to celebrate but all COSATU wanted was for the wealth of the country to be shared.

No mention of the NDP. Nobody stepping to the footplate.

To-ing and fro-ing on labour issues appears to be average activity for politicians, including the President, and at the moment, with nobody sticking their heads over the parapet, Parliament heads towards an election with business sitting in a vacuum and the international rating bodies not quite are what we are up to .

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Facebook and Twitter, Finance, economic, Labour, LinkedIn, Mining, beneficiation, Public utilities, Trade & Industry0 Comments

Treasury says it has plans to cut down on tender fraud

Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, in replying to a parliamentary written question on what government was doing about malpractice in state tenders and overpricing of goods and services supplied on government tenders, has replied that National Treasury is developing  a “national pricing system” to be adopted by departments in such instances where government is paying outside providers.

The written reply did not give any indication of the levels of government to which such new plans might apply.

Such measures, the minister replied, would improve government’s ability to monitor transactions and help detect fraud at an earlier stage. Also there were plans to introduce more transparency in the procurement process itself, including the necessity to declare and provide reasons for awarding a particular contract.

More centralised control was to be sought when high-value goods were purchased, the minister wrote, and penalties such as double the contract value were envisaged.

In a separate platform before Parliament closed, Pravin Gordhan drew the attention of parliamentarians to the fact that a higher level of integrity was also called from the private sector when dealing with state officials, in particular in the way that they tendered for government business and the prices that were charged.

He also drew attention to the fact that taxpayers themselves were getting wary of the misuse of public funds by government, pointing to the fact that the auditor general had recently summated in their published annual reports of the previous financial year that the public sector had fruitless and wasteful expenditure of R30bn.

In a separate media briefing later, minister Gordhan shared the platform with minister Collins Chabane, when the South African Auditor General  Terence Nombembe presented in annual report on government departmental audits to Parliament, which amplified on the issue of “fruitless and wasteful expenditure” by government officials and also underlined the inadequacies of municipalities throughout South Africa insofar as financial management, procurement and tendering processes were concerned.

Posted in Cabinet,Presidential, Finance, economic, Public utilities, Security,police,defence, Trade & Industry, Uncategorized0 Comments


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