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Gigaba urged to resist cabinet pressure

Economy
Cape Town - Minister Malusi Gigaba has been urged to use his budget vote speech today to demonstrate his willingness to stand up to his cabinet colleagues.

And he has also been asked to reject any idea of reinstituting the counter-money-laundering Advisory Council.

This call to the minister was made by the DA’s David Maynier, just days after the Justice and Constitutional Development Minister Michael Masutha decried the fact that the Advisory Council had been ditched from the Fica Amendment Act.

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Minister of Finance Malusi Gigaba.

Maynier argued that reinstating it would dilute National Treasury’s control over the Financial Intelligence Centre.

But Masutha believes it’s crucial that any regulations accompanying the amended legislation reinstitute the council.

He sees it playing an oversight function over the Financial Intelligence Centre. He said it could advise the government in its fight against illegal financial activities.

Read also: Gigaba reins in controversial Prof Malikane

On Monday, Maynier said Masutha’s call to reinstitute the counter-money-laundering advisory council was a blatant attempt to dilute the National Treasury’s control over the Financial Intelligence Centre. He said if the counter-money-laundering advisory council is reinstituted, according to Masutha wish, it would require the Finance Minister to take advice from the council on the performance of the functions of the Financial Intelligence Centre.

He said it was “particularly scary” that Masutha envisaged the advisory council being reinstituted by regulation, rather than an amendment of the legislation.

“The fact is that the call to reinstitute the counter-money-laundering advisory council is a blatant “power grab” aimed at removing, or diluting, the National Treasury’s control over the day-to-day operations of the FIC, which would be bad for the fight against corruption in South Africa.”

Masutha told the media, before tabling his department budget in Parliament last week that he was in “conversation” with Gigaba in an effort to remedy weaknesses that were in the amended legislation.

“We will approach the cabinet collectively with a new set of proposals to remedy the weaknesses that bedevilled the effectiveness of Fica. We need to strengthen our arsenal against those challenges,” Masutha said.

He and NPA head Shaun Abrahams had blamed the previous Finance Minister for failing to constitute the advisory council.

An attempt made in January, under former finance minister Pravin Gordhan, was reportedly unsuccessful because procedures were not followed.

Masutha had confirmed that the advisory council never “came to life” despite the Fica legislation introduced in 2002.

“It was not caused to come to life. We move from a premise that this was a fundamental mistake.”

Abrahams had blamed the challenges faced by the country in combating illegal financial activities to failure to constitute the advisory council.

“Every effort must be made, through regulation, to retain this council otherwise we will continue facing the challenges we have faced over the years. The creation of ad hoc committees won’t assist us in our fight to combat money laundering, illicit financial flows and terror financing,” Abrahams said.

POLITICAL BUREAU

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