South Africa: Budget vote debates kick off in Parliament

This Act gives Parliament the power to make alterations to the budget as a whole and to budgets of specific national government departments and entities 

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, May 8, 2018,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- The Budget Vote Debates, starting at Parliament on Wednesday, provide another opportunity for Parliament and the people to interact with the budget. Research has shown that meaningful public participation and parliamentary oversight over budget processes increases social ownership of the budget and effective allocation of funds, while reducing waste.

In his State of the Nation Address on 16 February, President Cyril Ramaphosa assessed the state of the country’s socio-economic situation and announced an intensive government programme to deliver services to the people of South Africa. On 21 February, the Minister of Finance delivered the Budget Speech and tabled the Fiscal Framework, the Appropriation Bill and the Division of Revenue Bill. These gave details of spending plans and revenue collection. Parliament, through recommendations of the Finance and Appropriations Committees of the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces, makes the final budget decisions. The Constitution allows Parliament to make these decisions so that the people, through their democratically elected representatives, have a say in budget choices which have a major impact on all of society.

Our Constitution requires Parliament to engage actively with the budget process, in the interests of good governance and financial transparency. In 2009 Parliament passed the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. This Act gives Parliament the power to make alterations to the budget as a whole and to budgets of specific national government departments and entities. Before the Act, Parliament could either approve or reject the budget, not make modifications to it. The Act has enhanced Parliament’s examination of government spending and revenue collection and enhanced Parliament’s constitutional duty to examine and oversee government action and policy implementation.

After the Minister of Finance presents the budget, each parliamentary committee has hearings on the Budget Vote for each state department. The committees scrutinise the departmental budgets, their expenditures, spending plans and performance in relation to the commitments made in the previous financial year.

After all the Budget Votes have been debated, each House (the National Assembly and National Council of Provinces) must vote on the whole budget. If the budget is approved, the Ministers can go ahead and spend the money as budgeted.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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