Division of funding bill sent to NCOP
Johannesburg - The National Assembly has referred the Division of Revenue Bill - that allocates funding to provinces and local governments - to the National Council of Provinces (NCoP) for concurrence.
This was after the House secured a quorum for the first time since the report of the standing committee on appropriations was tabled this year.
It was a departure from previous instances where ANC public representatives failed to ensure a quorum, forcing the approval of the Budget by the House to be postponed.
However, on Wednesday’s sitting saw ANC chief whip Pemmy Majodina forced to formally table the motion relating to the approval.
EFF MP Mbuyiseli Ndlozi initially requested Majodina to read her motion in full, and National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise ordered her to do so.
But Majodina did not read her motion line by line.
The motion in question was to request the suspension of a parliamentary rule providing for, among other things, that the debate on the second reading of a bill cannot commence witin three working days from the day that the committee’s report is tabled.
When some formalities were done, Freedom Front Plus’s Dr Corné Mulder asked that the House establish whether there was a quorum to pass the bill.
“In terms of the Constitution, there has to be a quorum. We don’t know if there is a quorum. I suggest we make sure,” Mulder said.
After a headcount of MPs present, Modise confirmed the quorum.
“We have present in the House 254 members, excluding myself,” she said.
After objections from the DA, EFF, ACDP, UDM and the Freedom Front Plus, Modise announced that the bill would be referred to the NCoP for concurrence.
“The report is adopted, with objections by parties being noted,” she said.
The standing committee on appropriations noted that following the expenditure reductions made in the 2019 Medium-Term Expenditure Budget Framework, further changes had been made in the provincial and local governments’ equitable share.
“The provincial equitable share has been reduced by R7.3billion through a 2% reduction in all non-compensation spending per year, and R5.2bn reductions in compensation of employees. Direct conditional grants to provinces have been reduced by a net R13.3bn, as the reduction of R16.2bn is partly offset by reprioritising R2.9bn,” the committee said in its report.
The local government reductions of R3.2bn were from the local government’s equitable share, with R16.8bn reductions in direct conditional grants.
The committee said a large part of the funding reduction in the 2020 MTEF has been in the conditional grant allocation, with all direct conditional grants being reduced, except the early childhood development grant and the learners with profound intellectual disabilities grant.