SA Finance Minister Tito Mboweni tabled the Appropriation Bill and the Special Appropriation Bill in Parliament. File picture

Parliament - The National Assembly on Tuesday passed the Appropriation Bill and the budgets for 28 government departments amid objections from opposition benches.

Opposition parties complained that its been a decade since the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act was passed, permitting MPs to amend Money Bills, yet Parliament continued to rubberstamp the national budget and those of departments.

"Since the passing of the Money Bills Act not once has the appropriation bill or adjustments appropriation bill was ever amended to respond to issues," said Economic Freedom Figthers (EFF) MP Mmabatho Mokause.

Mokause argued more money needed to be allocated to the office of the National Director of Public Prosecutions to prevent it from being "auctioned to the highest bidder", referring to Justice Minister Ronald Lamola mooting private funding for the institution. The opposition party also wanted Statistics South Africa and the Public Protector's office to be better resourced, and wanted to reduce government departments even more.

"We also agree that Cabinet is still largely bloated. We do not need deputy ministers. We don't even known their names, we do not know what they are doing but they are earning huge salaries," she said. 

Democratic Alliance MP Geordin Hill-Lewis agreed that the appropriation bill was being bulldozed through Parliament.

"We have spent a month on this budget, 34 budget debates and 32 committee meetings. We’ve collectively spent at least 160 hours debating this budget. In all of this Parliament has not come up with a single amendment. Not one."

Hill-Lewis complained it was a "bail out budget", that cut services to the poor so another lifeline could be thrown to the cash-strapped Eskom, which has bled billions of rand as a result of corruption and mismanagement.

His comment came after Mboweni introduced the Special Appropriation Bill effectively throwing Eskom a R59 billion lifeline over the next two years to improve its balance sheet and avoid creditors from calling in loans.

African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) MP Steve Swart said the cuts to other services as a result of the Eskom allocation would have a dire impact on the poor and working class.

Swart further advised Mboweni that given revenue collection was meant to come in significantly lower than predicted in the February budget, government should work with haste to recover looted monies from those at the centre of state capture.

He suggested government adopt the "Al Capone option".

"Al Capone was the gangster and he was arrested for tax evasion and the process of recovering tax and penalties on ill-gotten fruits of state capture is far simpler than obtaining a conviction in a criminal court," said Swart.

"SARS can raise estimated assessments, based on the evidence at the Zondo and other commissions of inquiry and charge 150 percent penalty, they can obtain a civil judgment, appoint banks as agents and recover those monies from those guilty of state capture. This will help balance the books. It will also deprive the state capturers of funds to fight crimianl cases. This is a win-win situation."

African News Agency (ANA)