Thursday, 21 october 2010 proceedings of the national council of provinces




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Part of our government’s measures to support rural development includes infrastructure development to produce thriving rural economies and ensure sustainable development. The expansion of basic infrastructure – which includes roads, electricity, water connections and public toilet systems in rural areas – becomes a central priority for the current period.
Linked to food security is the land and agrarian reform programme. The Freedom Charter states that:
Restrictions of land ownership on a racial basis shall be ended, and all the land redivided amongst those who work it to banish famine and land hunger.
The state shall help to assist the process.
The whole of South Africa is watching the court case between the 96-year-old Mrs Sanna Mahlangu, and Lanseria Commercial Crossing with keen interest. Mrs Sanna Mahlangu has been staying on a piece of land in Lanseria, Johannesburg since the 1920s. The so-called owner of the land, who is white, has evicted all her family members and destroyed their houses. The owner insists that the land belongs to him and that only Mrs Sanna Mahlangu may stay on the land.
This takes us back to the dismal failure of the policy of willing-buyer, willing-seller, which needs to be reviewed. We must work to intensify the land reform programme so as to ensure that more land is in the hands of the rural poor women. We must provide the rural poor with technical skills and financial resources to use the land productively and to create sustainable livelihoods.
Part of the key task is to ensure that the land reform programme is integrated at national, provincial and local government levels. What we are calling for is an integrated approach to development. The Department of Social Development is keen to maintain this strategic task because it is at the centre of the socioeconomic needs of rural women.
Linked to the land reform programme should be an expanded agrarian reform programme for rural women. This programme should focus on the systematic promotion of agricultural co-operatives throughout the production cycle, with specific attention given to women. It should also involve active promotion of agro-processing in the agricultural sector.
In this regard, government must develop support measures to ensure more access to markets and finance for small women farmers. Indeed, we must ensure a much stronger link between land and agrarian reform programmes and water resource allocation, so as to ensure that water resources of best quality reach all our people, especially the poor. Access to clean water and electricity by rural women is key to the development of economic activity and the enhancement of quality of life.
I want to repeat what the Freedom Charter states, namely that:
Rent and prices shall be lowered, food plentiful and no one shall go hungry.
This is augmented by our own Constitution.
In conclusion, we support the programme from the Ministry of Social Development and we also support some of the programmes which have been undertaken to ensure that women in the rural areas are able to benefit and develop their own economic activity. Thank you.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Hon House Chair, let me start by expressing appreciation for all the comments made by colleagues in this very important debate.
What I hear is that there is no disagreement that poverty is indeed a challenge in South Africa. Unemployment and underdevelopment are similarly a challenge in South Africa, and we need to deal with those issues.
What I don’t hear us having a common approach on, though, is the “how” part of it. How to deal with that? I did say earlier in my speech that there is no one-way approach to this. To those of us who are ideologically inclined to say that we must just look at the markets – like the hon members from the DA who are saying we must ensure that we work on equal opportunities for all – let me say, yes, we are saying equal opportunities for all in the ruling party and in government.
What we don’t agree with is that we must just say equal opportunities for all, and that is the end of it. There are people who will need to be uplifted. Those were colleagues who stood here and who understand where the ANC comes from, and where we are going. Naturally, and unsurprisingly, they are from the ANC.
We spoke about a need for us to do something to uplift the rural women, as hon Montsitsi has just said. Hon Boroto has just demonstrated how important it is to take care of the elderly, but also to take care of the women in those rural areas.
So, the sooner we get out of this mode of debating whether equal opportunities for all as an exclusive policy, is right, and therefore all others are wrong, the better for us as a nation.
We are definitely out there to root out poverty. We are saying that we have seen in this country of ours, South Africa, what those who followed the markets only, and ignored the entire 65% of the population in the rural areas and never even thought of providing facilities for them, actually led this country to. We have seen it happening: education denied, infrastructure denied, everything denied, and then people – especially the haves – were focusing on the markets. They think that if one focuses on commercial operations, everything else will fall into place.
No, we don’t agree. Let us really refocus our energies. We will certainly address all the issues that encompass people in rural areas.
Mr M J R DE VILLIERS: Chairperson, on a point of order: I did not use the phrase “equal opportunities”; I used the phrase “open opportunities”.
The MINISTER OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: Chairperson, I don’t know what the point of order is. I won’t withdraw my statement. To me it is English, and it means the same thing. Open opportunities or equal opportunities – that is what we hear every day as an ideological policy. That is what we say we are not agreeing with. Whether there is going to be another word next week that replaces “open” with “equal”, or anything, we are not for that.
Those of us who have not read the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs, must please go and read the document. That revealing document says to all South Africans that, in this country, South Africa, poverty has been drastically reduced. What has grown in this country is inequality.
It is for that reason that we say we must deal with these inequalities so that it is not only the haves who just continue to benefit, but also the have-nots. This rural development programme of ours is intended to do exactly that, leaving no stone unturned, focusing on the most vulnerable in our society, because those are the people that we’ve got to lift up, while continuing to support those who are in business and who must create jobs. We are saying that we have a dual focus. It must work. It has already worked.
The people who have been affected mainly, again in terms of the MDG report that we have recently tabled at the United Nations council ― proudly tabled as a South African report; this time no shadow reports from the DA or whoever ― unanimously agree and say that of the eight MDGs, six of the goals are about women. If we make an impact on women’s development and empowerment ― women who happen, by the way, to be in rural areas ― we will actually achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
Concerning those Millennium Development Goals, the report says that, in so far as equality in South Africa is concerned, we have actually reached and surpassed the target, even on education provision. What is lacking is in the area of quality of education.
Hon Boroto raised an issue about the need for us to do something really drastic for older persons, in relation to health services in the rural areas in particular, as well as services at the pay points.
I want to assure this august House that, regarding issues pertaining to paypoint matters, we are currently dealing with them. We will definitely come back to the portfolio committee and to this august House about how we are moving. Already, some steps have been taken towards computerising the payment system. We live with other people who do not actually want us to move in that direction. But we are more determined than ever to ensure that even the black community in South Africa also earn in a dignified manner, like their white counterparts in this country.
Therefore, regarding the paypoint system, in a few years’ time, these problems that we see now will be a thing of the past. We will do our best in that regard.
The abuse of older persons is a problem. We want to appeal to everyone to join hands and to work together, so that we ensure that we really implement the law to the fullest, because those abusers are within our communities.
I think, as members of this Council, we must also continue to motivate other people out there to ensure that they become part and parcel of ensuring that older persons are not abused. In a short space of time from now, we will be launching, again rolling out, the charter of values on older persons. This is one instrument which is going to guide us as to what to do and what can be done for older persons in the future.
We also want to indicate that we are really attending to issues of fraud. Hon De Villiers, sometimes I don’t know where you get your information. I really do not know where the hon member gets his information. Somebody stood here to define poverty. In South Africa there is no unified and agreed-upon definition of poverty, yet. We will get there, and yet we define it.
Brazil has overtaken us, we are aware, and that is why we cite Brazil as the example that we should follow in order to attack this poverty even in those areas. Programmes that we have to implement are, for example, Zero Hunger in communities. If we introduce, or at the time when we introduce Zero Hunger-for-all in communities, we will all realise how inclusive this programme is, because it includes the development of entrepreneurs. It is a lesson that we draw from Brazil. There are many lesson that we can draw, including that of ensuring that we educate our children, hon De Villiers.
It is not that we are copying everything. We have recorded our own successes in the field of early childhood development. The ECD deals with the ages zero to four years, and that is the age that Social Development deals with. We have made enormous impacts. Children who have not been in those foundation classes are now enrolled. We want to increase those numbers. We have a backlog of about just fewer than three million of those children, and we are definitely going to eradicate that backlog.
If we think that this government is just sitting back and not doing anything about corruption – by the way, we know that there is always a corruptor and a corruptee; we deal with both – you should know that, as I speak, there are people who are being tried in courts. We know that very well. As government we are not going to shy away from dealing with corruption. We have not created corruption; we found it there. We are dealing with it and not suppressing it. We don’t even keep quiet about any form of corruption.
We are not shouting slogans only. The results are very clear. They are contained in world reports. There is no sloganeering or anything like that. We want to communicate with our own people, and as we do that we want them to hear and to remember the messages. What is important is the output and the product, and the output is okay. We believe that this is the route to go. Indeed, with self-help programmes, with all those projects in communities, with sustainable livelihoods and with the growth of the economy, we are moving rural development. We will get there.
Five years down the line when we again ascend the podium of the world we shall be reporting results that are saying, yes, we have made it. We are very optimistic and confident that we will make it. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Debate concluded.
TAXATION LAWS AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
Mr C J DE BEER: Hon Chairperson, the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, Bill 28 of 2010, is a money Bill according to section 77 of the Constitution and contains changes to total tax liabilities as a result of changes to the tax rates and/or tax bases.
Taxation in the South African economy is crucial to our fiscal sovereignty, and our ability to fund government through tax revenue. The Bill gives effect to the tax proposals announced in February 2010 by the hon Minister of Finance when the Budget was tabled.

Hon De Beer, I want to refer you to the Budget Speech of the Minister as well as to the review of last year’s Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement, MTBPS. Go and read it, and there you’ll find the answer to the problem that you addressed this afternoon.


Among the aspects that the Bill addresses are those that contribute to the economic growth value chain, such as individual and business taxpayers’ saving mechanisms and employment. These will have to be welcomed and recommended as they will both directly and indirectly contribute to the achievement of government’s priority goals, in particular the creation of decent work and sustainable livelihoods.
Tax evasion and avoidance is not only a crime but also a basis for building a culture of corruption in our society, which we must counteract. It is also to the credit of our democratic parliamentary processes that a number of changes have been made to some of these original proposals as a result of comments and inputs that were received.
The proposed Bill provides for personal income tax relief and closes various tax loopholes to ensure an equitable tax system. In the main, the Bill’s proposals seek to do the following: to tighten the rules relating to employer-provided motor vehicles with the aim of preventing arbitrage; to promote uniformity and avoid duplication in the implementation of the retirement and preretirement withdrawal benefits by making the employer-provided lump sum termination payout part of the tax-preferred calculation; to narrow the permissible instruments in the implementation of the interest exemption threshold and review its effectiveness as an incentive intended to promote savings by middle- and lower-income households; to place certain Sharice-compliant products on an equal tax footing with conventional finance products; and to close loopholes relating to financial institutions that deduct beyond what should be equitably allowed for by the basic tax principles when implementing laws dealing with interest expense allocations.
Amendments are also proposed in the Bill with regard to refinements to the mineral royalty legislation. The South African mineral and petroleum royalty system imposes an increasing or decreasing rate, depending on the company’s profitability. This varying rate allows for South Africa, as a whole, to enjoy relatively higher yields during boom years while providing partial relief during lean years.
These changes will also help in establishing co-ordination between the implementation of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act and other taxation laws. This taxation is important for increasing our tax base. That’s very important.

Changes that are being introduced will assist in the promotion of beneficiation and thereby propel us to greater heights in terms of industrialisation, economic growth and employment creation.


South Africa’s tax treaty network makes South Africa an ideal location for foreign investors to base the management of their regional operations. The proposed amendments eliminate tax hurdles so that foreign investors can utilise South Africa as a launching point and for various regional equity fund investments.
The Bill gives effect to the tax proposals announced in February 2010 when the 2010-11 Budget was tabled.
The Select Committee on Finance supports the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill, Bill 28 of 2010, and calls on the House to support the Bill. I thank you. [Applause.]
Debate concluded.
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.
VOLUNTARY DISCLOSURE PROGRAMME AND TAXATION LAWS SECOND AMENDMENT BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
Mr T E CHAANE: Hon Chairperson, hon members, the statement on the Voluntary Disclosure Programme and Taxation Laws Second Amendment Bill, Bill 29 of 2010, introduces a voluntary disclosure programme and amends administrative provisions of the Transfer Duty Act, Act 40 of 1949; the Income Tax Act, Act 58 of 1962; the Customs and Excise Act, Act 91 of 1964; the Value-Added Tax Act, Act 89 of 1991; the Unemployment Insurance Contributions Act, Act 4 of 2002; and of the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty (Administration) Act, Act 29 of 2008.
The objects of the Bill are to introduce a voluntary disclosure programme; to amend the Transfer Duty Act; to amend the Income Tax Act of 1962 so as to amend certain provisions; to amend the Unemployment Insurance Fund Contribution Act so as to effect a technical correction; to amend the Mineral and Petroleum Resources Royalty Act so as to amend certain provisions; as well as to provide for matters connected therewith.
In considering the Bill, the committee ensured that the Bill proposed strikes a balance between the interests of the fiscus, ensures a good system of taxation and takes into consideration the current economic challenges such as inequality and unemployment. It will also encourage compliance and, at the same time, broaden the revenue base in the long term.
Having considered the presentation on the Voluntary Disclosure Programme and Taxation Laws Second Amendment Bill by the National Treasury and the SA Revenue Service, the Select Committee on Finance recommends that the NCOP adopts the Bill without amendment. Chair, I so move.
Debate concluded.
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.
SOUTH AFRICAN POSTBANK LIMITED BILL
(Consideration of Bill and of Report thereon)
Ms M P THEMBA: Hon House Chair, hon members, hon guests, comrades and friends, the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises welcomed the introduction of the South African Postbank Limited Bill, Bill 14B of 2009. The committee gives support to the spirit and intention of what it seeks to achieve in the realisation of a better life for all South Africans, especially in the rural areas.
The process of addressing the challenge of the unbanked low-income groups and people living in the rural areas without access to financial services started with the adoption of the White Paper on Postal Policy in 1998. The policy spelt out the need for state intervention and the form in which this intervention would happen. It identified the Postbank as the most appropriate financial institution, best placed to cater for the needs of rural and poor communities in relation to their banking and financial services.
This Bill seeks to provide for the incorporation of the Postbank division of the South African Post Office and its transfer to the Postbank company. It also seeks to deal with matters of governance and functioning of the Postbank company and with all consequential arrangements that go with this.
As a consequence of socioeconomic inequalities, uneven development between the rural and urban areas and high levels of poverty, millions of people are unbanked and therefore have no access to saving, deposit and credit facilities. According to the National Treasury, only 59% of the country’s adult population had a basic bank account as of December 2009.
It was envisaged, at that time, that the establishment of a developmental role for the Postbank would require it to be restructured into a fully fledged savings bank and that the process should be phased in over a period of five to seven years.
Currently, the Postbank has been operating as a division of the Post Office, providing very limited financial services. The Bill takes the implementation of the government policy further by restructuring the Postbank and establishing it as the fully fledged Postbank Limited company. The corporatised entity will assume the current business of the Postbank division of the South African Post Office, which is deposit taking, money transfer, and third-party payment.
In conclusion, the select committee has acknowledged and accepted that the Bill has gone through all the required parliamentary processes, including public hearings, before it was passed by the National Assembly. We, as the Select Committee on Labour and Public Enterprises, have subjected the Bill to scrutiny. In our deliberations we have taken into account the specific conditions pertaining to the provinces and their views. The conditions are that the majority of our population ― who are poor, have low incomes and are unbanked ― reside mainly in the rural areas. Following these deliberations, the committee accepted the Bill without any further amendments for submission to this House. I therefore put the Bill before the House for adoption. I thank you. [Applause.]
Debate concluded.
Bill agreed to in accordance with section 75 of the Constitution.
The Council adjourned at 16:16.

__________


ANNOUNCEMENTS, TABLINGS AND COMMITTEE REPORTS
WEDNESDAY, 15 SEPTEMBER 2010
TABLINGS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the South African Revenue Service (SARS) for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 173-2010].
2. The Minister in The Presidency: Performance Monitoring and Evaluation as well as Administration
(a) Report and Financial Statements of Vote 6 – Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information of Vote 6 for 2009-2010 [RP 183-2010].
3. The Minister of Science and Technology
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 164-2010].
THURSDAY, 16 SEPTEMBER 2010
ANNOUNCEMENTS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
The Speaker and the Chairperson
1. Assent by President in respect of Bills


  1. Social Assistance Amendment Bill [B 5B – 2010] – Act No 5 of 2010 (assented to and signed by President on 15 September 2010).


National Council of Provinces
The Chairperson
1. Message from National Assembly to National Council of Provinces in respect of Bills passed by Assembly and transmitted to Council
(1) Bills passed by National Assembly and transmitted for concurrence on 16 September 2010:
(a) Higher Education Laws Amendment Bill [B 24B – 2010] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(b) Skills Development Levies Amendment Bill [B 25 – 2010] (National Assembly – sec 75).
(c) Higher Education and Training Laws Amendment Bill [B 26B – 2010] (National Assembly – sec 76(1)).
The Bills have been referred to the Select Committee on Education and Recreation of the National Council of Provinces.

TABLINGS
National Assembly and National Council of Provinces
1. The Minister of Finance
(a) Report and Financial Statements of the Financial Intelligence Centre for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 240-2010].
(b) Report and Financial Statements of the Accounting Standards Board for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Independent Auditors on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 206-2010].
(c) Report and Financial Statements of the Independent Regulatory Board for Auditors for 2009-2010, including the Report of the Auditor-General on the Financial Statements and Performance Information for 2009-2010 [RP 207-2010].
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