Tag Archive | private member’s bill

Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill welcomed

hendrik krugerLegislation to be sifted for red tape….

In what appears to be a carbon copy of what has been achieved notably in Australia and to a lesser extent in some ten other countries, DA MP Hendrik Kruger has introduced a refreshing draft private member’s bill, simply called the Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill.

Hon. Kruger serves on both Parliament’s Portfolio Committee on Small Business Development and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Committee and his service therefore as a member of Parliament would indicate that he knows what he is talking about.

Regulatory Impact Assessments have been considered and skirted around for years in South Africa but the terminology “red tape” indicates a more direct approach that has been adopted towards this crippling issue for small business and the farming community.    It should go a long way towards assisting business and investment if applied in a generalised manner.

Magic words

lawyerbriefsThe preamble to Bill states its aim as legislation “to provide, inter alia, for the assessment of regulatory measures developed by the executive, legislatures and self-regulatory bodies, in order to determine and reduce red tape and the cost of red tape for businesses.”

A copy of the draft Red Tape Impact Assessment Bill and a memorandum setting out its intentions are obtainable by simply going into the Internet where a copy in Word is available. Comment is now called for in terms of the rules of the National Assembly since it is a private member’s bill.

Such is introduced with the permission of the Speaker of the House resulting in submissions to Parliament itself. Probably hearings will also be called after the Bill is properly tabled.

The detail

The description of the Bill is summarized as follows: – “To provide for the assessment of regulatory measures developed by the executive, the legislatures and self-regulatory bodies in all three spheres of government, in order for them to detect and reduce red tape and the cost of red tape for businesses.”

Also, the promoters say, it is to provide for the establishment of administrative units to assist in the red tape impact assessment process and to prepare red tape impact statements. This unit should provide assistance to businesses in overcoming red tape challenges and carry out “mapping exercises” for the preparation of red tape impact statements for a regulator to pronounce upon.

fin 24In an interview with Fin24, Hendrik Kruger gave an example of how the Bill would work. “Take the Small Business Act” he said, “They are going to have to unpack it, assess it and see what the actual impact is of red tape on small business.” Mapping as a process involves going through the whole Bill and stating the red tape impact of each requirement or clause with one aim.…the cost of the Bill to business, he said.

He quoted an example. “If they say you must go twice a year to SARS office to get a tax clearance certificate, then they will cost that action. Then they will say, alright it cost let’s say R1000. But there’s about 100 000 small businesses in South Africa, so just to get a tax certificate once a year costs business 100 million bucks.”

“Tax certificates are important”, he acknowledged, “but if we do it every second year, then we save R50m from the GDP that’s previously been wasted. Can you see the enormous cost nationally, something we don’t know at the moment?,” he asked the interviewer on Fin24.   “Government just says, go get a tax certificate. Bu

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parliamentary library

t to tell all of that national cost to an individual official is a bit of a problem, so we must legislate for it.”

Red tape in Oz

Christian Porter, the MP who introduced a similar private member’s Bill to the Australian Parliament in Canberra claimed that “the bulk repeal of regulations introduced by the Attorney-General, was likely to repeal over 10,000 legislative instruments and over 1,800 Acts of Parliament”.

In Australia it appears that the legislation was more over-arching, with a rule claiming that regulation should not be the default option for policy makers but rather the policy option offering the greatest net benefit.

red tapeThe Australian Bill also referred to the cost burden in that every substantive regulatory policy change must be the subject of a Regulation Impact Statement; that regulators must consult in a genuine and timely way with affected businesses, community organisations and individuals; policy makers must consult with each other to avoid creating cumulative or overlapping regulatory burdens.

Also the Australian version stated that the information upon which policy makers base their decisions must be published at the earliest opportunity; regulators must implement regulation with common sense, empathy and respect and all regulation must be periodically reviewed to test its continuing relevance.   The Australian government claims that in fact some A$2,5bn has been saved through these measures since September 2013.

Outcomes

Western Australian Mines and Petroleum Minister Bill Marmion put it well when he remarked that when introducing the same sort of state Bill in mining regulations, that whilst “cutting red tape” has strong political appeal, the broader, more significant objective is to ensure laws and regulations respond to economic, social and environmental demands and that regulations operate as effectively and efficiently as possible.

South Africa named

Insofar as SA is concerned, both the IMF and World Bank have both stated the “cost of doing business in South law south africaAfrica is unnecessarily high” but the relation between the necessity for a regulation and business cost of such a move has never been formulated, records show.

In his interview with Fin 24, Kruger said that the average government staff member has never really heard of the expression ‘cost of doing business’ and has little perception of what this means “to the outside world.”

Commentators at this stage have indicated that across party lines reaction to this Bill might be favourable and have said it might be the time for business and industry to rather relate the term ‘cost of doing business’ to more straight forward terminology such as cost in terms of loss of jobs.

Previous articles on category
Licensing of Businesses Bill re-emerges – ParlyReportSA

Business Interests Bill to expose government corruption – ParlyReportSA

Minister Davies withdraws Licensing of Businesses Bill

Licensing of Businesses Bill to set norms – ParlyReportSA

 

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Labour relations bill rejected

LRA amendment on strike violence rejected….

ian ollisThe Portfolio Committee on Labour has rejected a Private Member’s Bill, the Labour Relations Amendment Bill proposed by Shadow Minister of Labour, Ian Ollis, to make provision for trade unions to be accountable in the event of violence, destruction of property and intimidation by union members during a protected strike.

The background to the Bill noted that “statistics from the protest action in the metal and engineering sector showed that in the first two weeks of that strike, 246 cases of intimidation, 50 violent ‘incidents’ and 85 cases of vandalism were recorded.

Duty to take reasonable steps

“The Bill seeks to provide a statutory duty on trade unions to take reasonable steps to prevent harm to persons and property within the Act”, said Ian Ollis MP, when tabling the Bill noting that his Bill had been stalled since 2010.

COSATU spokesperson Patrick Craven at the time responded with the statement that “COSATU will campaign relentlessly, thorough the alliance, in Parliament, at the Constitutional court and in the streets, to ensure that such a law is defeated.”\

Cabinet says we have the tools

Meanwhile, when President Zuma addressed the House in his State of Nation Address he condemned violence associated with strikes but said, “We have enough instruments in our labour relations machinery to resolve labour disputes.”

When presenting the Bill to Parliament in the current session, Ian Ollis said that the Bill could specify penalties, but also it envisaged a situation where the Labour Court is given permission to order parties, if a strike turned violent, to arbitration.

The Department of Labour (DoL) distanced itself from the Bill, Director-General, Thobile Lamati sayingThobile Lamati that these issues that were being addressed at NEDLAC level.

As a result of the meeting, a further Labour Portfolio Committee meeting heard the advice of Parliamentary Legal Adviser, Ms Noluthando Mpikashe, who told the Committee that although the Bill has no constitutional defects, existing legislation catered for all its contents.   She cited the Gatherings Act (Section 11) as a satisfactory answer and that the proposed Bill was pre-empting the NEDLAC deliberations.

Back to Marikana

Ollis responded that the Bill simply proposed that unions be held accountable for the conduct of their members during strike action. This will ensure not only accountability, but safety of the non-striking workers and added that “had the Bill been in place, lives would have been saved at Marikana.”

He complained “The Gatherings Act does not regulate any behaviour outside an approved gathering. The Bill before the Committee speaks to actions resulting from unapproved gatherings. The Bill also calls for the granting of permission to the Labour Court to force arbitration once a strike had turned violent,” he said.

He also complained in previous meetings that that the Opposition did not have a voice in NEDLAC. It could not give any input. The duty of the Opposition was to propose new ideas with regard to legislation, and the only way to reach NEDLAC was through the Portfolio Committee.

Bill voted out

Chairperson Yengeni rejected totally the claim that Opposition parties could not address NEDLAC directly. She said there were channels available to engage any entity of government.  She thanked Shadow Minister Ollis for his Bill and all the work that had gone into it but said “When the NEDLAC process is complete, the Committee will be the wiser”. Using its majority, ANC MPs rejected the Bill in its totality, the IFP abstaining.

Chairperson Lumka Yengeni stated afterwards, “The Bill is rejected by the Committee as it is not raising anything new. All its contents are captured in the Regulation of Gatherings Act,” she said. “The Department of Labour is on top of the situation”, she added.

Shadow Minister Ollis said, “The violence will continue. Therefore the current platform is inadequate.”

Other articles in this category or as background
Parliament delays process on Labour Relations Bill – ParlyReportSA
Muscle may be added to LRA – ParlyReportSA

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DA’s Crucial Infrastructure Bill tabled on security

Crucial infrastructure points re-interpreted….

Lindiwe Mazibuko A draft Bill known as the Protection of Crucial Infrastructure Bill, has been tabled by DA opposition leader, Lindiwe Mazibuko, and presented to the Speaker of the House for debate.   It deals with the issue of key points, which emerged during the Nkandla scandal.

Whilst the Bill lists some ten issues it wishes to set as objectives, including the establishment of an independent crucial infrastructure board to create a register of areas declared as “crucial infrastructure”, the main point of the Bill becomes amplified by the final objective which states “to repeal of the National Key Points Act, no 102 of 1980 and related legislation.”

It is this legislation which the minister of public works and the minister of police both quoted when asked questions on the construction of the state president’s private home in Nkandla, Kwa-Zulu Natal.

A Private Members Bill may be introduced by any bona fide MP after submission to the Speaker for permission without reference to cabinet, Nedlac or any government department and may be tabled without a minister being involved.

Such a Bill would be subject to public hearings called for by Parliament before being debated by the relevant parliamentary portfolio committee.
Previous articles in this subject
http://parlyreportsa.co.za//uncategorized/more-tightening-up-in-security-industry/

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Electoral Reform Bill based on new constitutional rulings

Voting for those overseas….

extNAThe Electoral Reform Bill, introduced as Private Member’s Bill by James Selfe MP of the Democratic Alliance (DA), has now finally reached the stage of parliamentary hearings on a number of issues that could change the face of South Africa’s next elections.

The changes proposed will bring the electoral act in line with two constitutional rulings made that have restored voting rights to prisoners and South African citizens based overseas but the proposals in the Bill also seek to introduce elements of proportional representation as a mix with the present party list system, such proposals referring only to the National Assembly.

The cabinet discussed and approved the publication of the draft Bill earlier this year.

Only parliamentary hearings

As a Private Members Bill and as a draft approved by the Speaker of the House, the Bill is immediately tabled as such in the light of the fact that it will not have to be published first through gazetting with departmental public hearings for comment.   This stage of transparency disappears and hence the need for both cabinet and the Speaker’s approval before tabling.

The Electoral Reform Bill proposes the introduction of special votes, prior to election day in respect of provincial legislatures for those South Africans who cannot vote as a result of their physical infirmity, disability or pregnancy.

It would also cater for officials on national duty, members of the security forces, as well as South Africans who intended to be absent from the country for various reasons, including business. It also caters for people serving as election officers who were absent from their voting district.

SA voters abroad to register

Those South Africans who are abroad and interested in voting would have to register at the nearest South African embassy to vote only for the National Assembly.

In submitting the Bill, the DA said, “It is an attempt to ensure that members of parliament are more directly accountable to the people they represent.”   This, they say, is the culmination of a process which was started last year to give effect to the party’s “long-standing policy to ensure that Parliament is tied more directly to constituencies across the country.”

The Bill was aired for the first time by DA leader, Helen Zille; Lindiwe Mazibuko DA parliamentary opposition leader in Parliament; and chairperson of the DA federal executive, James Selfe MP.

Form of constituency voting

The statement said, “While the current “party list” proportional representation electoral system has its advantages, including the fact that we accept that it is inclusive, immune to gerrymandering, and is perceived to be fair, at the same time it does not ensure accountability over members of the National Assembly to individual voters. People have no way of voting out an MP who clearly does not represent their views or whom they disapprove of because of his or her actions”.

“In a list system therefore there is no geographical linkage between MPs and voters. The allocation by political parties of MPs to non-existent ‘constituencies’ is a very poor substitute, as there is not accountability to, nor mandate from, the voters in those constituencies”, the statement concluded.

100 constituencies, 300 MPs

The Bill contemplates the establishment of 100 three-member constituencies, each with approximately the same number of voters. The task of determining the boundaries of constituencies will rest with the Electoral Commission.

The three MPs representing each constituency will be elected by a system of proportional representation within those constituencies. In practice, this would mean that voters will vote for the political party of their choice, and the three members who obtain the requisite quota of votes or largest surpluses could be elected as the MPs for that constituency. Three hundred members of the National Assembly would be elected in this way. National lists are still included in the proposals.

100 MPs still on party lists

The Bill further proposes that 100 members of the National Assembly be elected from national lists submitted by the various parties.

The reasons for having three members from each of the 100 constituencies, rather than one member from each of these constituencies, are that it both “increases the likelihood of an individual voter being able to identify with at least one of his or her elected constituency MPs.

“It also enhances”, the proponents say, “the practicality of achieving the correct party proportionality in the National Assembly after the 100 members from the national list have been allocated.”

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Business Interests Bill to control corruption

Bill exposes level of state corruption…..

Lindiwe MazibukoA Private Member’s Bill has been tabled in Parliament in an attempt to control state tendering corruption by Lindiwe Mazibuko, leader of the opposition, entitled the Business Interests of Government Employees Bill; a private members bill being an unusual procedure but perfectly acceptable in terms of the Constitution. The Bill gives as its background the seedy position in a number of government departments regarding government tendering processes.

The Bill, emanating from an MP and not the minister of a particular department as is usual, will have public parliamentary hearings in the course of public procedure but no departmental call for comment, although in this case the Bill is very much in the sphere of Lindiwe Sisulu, the public service and administration minister.

Going for the kernel

The Bill is hard hitting both in its language and its intentions and does not disguise the fact that it is specifically aimed at corruption and cronyism in the public service. In fact, it is so lacking in subtlety of wording one wonders if Lindiwe Mazibuko took it upon herself, in conjunction with the Speaker of the House (who has to be consulted before any private member’s Bill is accepted) to do something that the minister could not do without a palace revolution in her own department.

The minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has been saying for some time that legislation might be one of the courses of action to be undertaken to fight corruption in public administration.

Lighting a fuse

The truth of the degree to which co-operation has been employed in the tabling of this Bill will no doubt come out in the portfolio committee debates during the passage of the Bill when the level of opposition can be measured, added to which there maybe, who knows, some submission from government departments in the hearings and from submissions, which have been called for since 13 June.

However, nobody will be able to disagree that something like this Bill is badly needed to stop the slippery slope of corruption that has become embedded in the South African public service. To stand against this Bill would be a difficult posture to adopt.

Govt employees only 5% interest

Basically the Bill demands a prohibition on any public servant or member of his or her family to hold more than a 5% interest in any entity that does business with the administration. Unfortunately, the Bill cannot be applied in retrogression as these are grounds found unacceptable constitutionally but public service employees around the country could be obliged to sign affidavits disclosing the extent that any members that they or their families have in an entity that conducts business with government, such affidavits having to be signed at prescribed intervals.

Similarly, those wishing to do business with government will have to sign a similar affidavit disclosing any interest that a government employee, a member of their family, may have in the entity tendering. Failure to comply will result in cancellation and a claim for damages and discipline against the family member concerned in public service.

Who is “family”?

The objects of the Bill state that the purpose is to stop the undermining of the quality service from government by public servants who are “inappropriately benefiting from government tenders”. In the definitions portion of Bill, which is no longer a draft as described in the media,  a “family” goes no further than siblings but all forms of marriages and unions are described.

Unusual listings

The background to Bill is most revealing and puts the facts up front for any debate on the Bill:-

*50% of Free State government contracts had been awarded to government employees or their immediate families, with 191 government employees benefiting from contracts worth R133m.

*In 2010, it is estimated that R624m of state money went to persons with direct links to public servants, to public servants families or persons with links to a spouse.

*R45m has been lost by the Easter Cape Health department due to irregular contracts with public servant family members.*A Special Investing Unit probe has revealed that close on 9,000 department of health officials are directors of a company and 1,000 of these openly to do business with the department, the report showing that R42.8 m had been paid to 235 employees.

*Over 3,314 employees of the department of education had engaged in business with the department in the past two financial years earning a combined R152m. Of these employees, 2,438 were teachers.

Only the brave…

The litany of horror continues and consequently, to object to the Bill would be to deny the facts. However, the implementation of such a Bill and to ensure its application at all levels will be the test and no doubt this is where the Bill may flounder.

The minister, it is proposed, may waive the 5% limit after considering an application by an employee. Consideration will also be given to the nature of the goods, adverse effects to the state if the tender or contract refused and possible adverse effects to the employee under certain conditions, but again such decisions must be taken by the minister.

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Business Interests Bill to expose government corruption

Bill tackles subject head on…..

lindiwe mazibukoA  Private Member’s Bill, entitled the Business Interests of Government Employees Bill has been tabled in Parliament by Lindiwe Mazibuko, leader of the opposition with object of fighting corruption in government;   a private members bill being an unusual procedure but perfectly acceptable in terms of the Constitution.

In other words, it emanates from an MP and not the minister of a particular department but in this case the Bill is very much in the sphere of Lindiwe Sisulu, the public service and administration minister. The public’s first opportunity to comment will come through public parliamentary hearings, there being no governmental departmental public draft stage.

Targeting corruption and cronyism

The Bill is hard hitting both in its language and its intentions and does not disguise the fact that it is specifically aimed at corruption and cronyism in the public service. In fact, it is so lacking in subtlety of wording one wonders if Lindiwe Mazibuko took it upon herself, in conjunction with the Speaker of the House (who has to be consulted before any private member’s Bill is accepted) to do something that the minister could not do without a palace revolution in her own department.

The minister, Lindiwe Sisulu, has been saying for some time that legislation might be one of the courses of action to be undertaken to fight corruption in public administration.

Opposition to Bill not known

The truth of the degree to which co-operation has been employed in the tabling of this Bill will no doubt come out in the portfolio committee debates during the passage of the Bill when the level of opposition can be measured, added to which there maybe, who knows, some submission from government departments in the hearings and from submissions, which have been called for since 13 June.

However, nobody will be able to disagree that something like this Bill is badly needed to stop the slippery slope of corruption that has become embedded in the South African public service. To stand against this Bill would be a difficult posture to adopt.

Over 5% interest not allowed

Basically the Bill demands a prohibition on any public servant or member of his or her family to hold more than a 5% interest in any entity that does business with the administration. Unfortunately, the Bill cannot be applied in retrogression as these are grounds found unacceptable constitutionally, but public service employees around the country will be obliged to sign affidavits disclosing the extent that any members that they or their families have in an entity that conducts business with government, such affidavits having to be signed at prescribed intervals.

Similarly, those wishing to do business with government will have to sign a similar affidavit disclosing any interest that a government employee, a member of their family, may have in the entity tendering. Failure to comply will result in cancellation and a claim for damages and discipline against the family member concerned in public service.

The objects of the Bill state that the purpose is to stop the undermining of the quality service from government by public servants who are “inappropriately benefiting from government tenders”.   In the definitions portion of Bill, which is no longer a draft as described in the media,  a “family” goes no further than siblings but all forms of marriages and unions are described.

The dreadful facts

The background to Bill is most revealing and puts the facts up front for any debate on the Bill:-

*50% of Free State government contracts had been awarded to government employees or their immediate families, with 191 government employees benefiting from contracts worth R133m.
*In 2010, it is estimated that R624m of state money went to persons with direct links to public servants, to public servants families or persons with links to a spouse.
*R45m has been lost by the Easter Cape Health department due to irregular contracts with public servant family members.
*A Special Investigating Unit probe has revealed that close on 9,000 department of health officials are directors of a company and 1,000 of these openly to do business with the department, the report showing that R42.8 m had been paid to 235 employees.
*Over 3,314 employees of the department of education had engaged in business with the department in the past two financial years earning a combined R152m. Of these employees, 2,438 were teachers.

Will it work in practice?

The litany of horror continues and consequently, to object to the Bill would be to deny the facts. However, the implementation of such a Bill and to ensure its application at all levels will be the test and no doubt this is where the Bill may flounder.

The minister, it is proposed, may waive the 5% limit after considering an application by an employee. Consideration will also be given to the nature of the goods, adverse effects to the state if the tender or contract refused and possible adverse effects to the employee under certain conditions, but again such decisions must be taken by the minister.

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Credit Bill aims to help consumers – ParlyReport

Private member’s Bill calls for hearings

In an interesting development in terms of the newly introduced National Credit Act far as consumer protection is concerned, one ofmario oriani-ambrosini the first private member’s Bills to be seen for a number of years seeks to make some important to the anchor legislation.

The National Credit Act Amendment Bill is being tabled by IFP member of Parliament, Mario Oriani-Ambrosini;  an explanation within the background of the Bill stating that the move is necessitated in order to avoid unintended consequences of existing legislation and bring debt relief in specific deserving cases.

A private member’s Bill is treated, if accepted by the Speaker, in the same manner as any Bill introduced by a minister. The last private members Bill was introduced by MP Edwin Conroy some eight years ago.

The preamble of the Bill says the new proposals include the need to clarify the definition of the use of the word “consumer” in order to avoid some of the unintended applications that might occur in transactions with consumers at the retail level or as end users, particularly so as to exclude business-to-business transactions or, for example, a mortgagee applying for a loan and a number of other such purchasing situations.

Also the preamble includes a statement regarding a perceived need provide economic relief to deserving consumers under debt rearrangements by giving the discretion to a magistrate acting on the recommendation of the relevant debt counsellor to suspend the accrual of interest on a debt or debts for a period of up to five years, if serving such debt becomes in itself beyond the debtor’s financial capabilities.

Such is presumably perceived by the originators as being important during the current period of economic downturn.

Comments are invited to the portfolio committee on trade and industry at Parliament.

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