Provincial and Local Government Portfolio Committee
Most of the legislation defining the new system of local government and other areas related to this Portfolio has now been adopted. There are only two major Bills left – Division of Fiscal Powers and Function Between District and Local Municipalities Bill and the Intergovernmental Relations Bill. So the main priority over the next five-year term would be monitoring and contributing to the effective implementation of the legislation passed.
- The Portfolio Committee undertook a major study tour of municipalities in January 2003. A report on the study tour was adopted by the Committee and 7000 copies were published for distribution. The report was published in ATC NO 53 – 2003 on 13 May 2003 (page 364). Following a debate in the House on the report a resolution was adopted in the House based on the report on 27 May 2003. The resolution was published in the ATC No 69 – 2003 on 10 June 2003 (page 591). The report and resolution includes several proposals for practical action, and the incoming Committee needs to ensure that these proposals are implemented. The resolution included a provision for Parliament to consider the appointment of a researcher to follow up on the issues taken up in the report. The incoming Committee needs to pursue this further.
- Shortly before Parliament ended its 5-year term we passed the Property Rates Bill. It was certainly the most technically challenging bill that we dealt with over the past 10 years. As property rates affects peoples pockets, it was perhaps inevitable that the Bill would raise enormous heat. While the key debates are now over, implementation of the Bill is going to prove very challenging. Municipalities have up to 4 years from 1 July this year to phase the Bill in appropriately. However there are major challenges around capacity and implementation, and the incoming Committee will be required to monitor the process very carefully. In fact, in our report to Parliament on the Bill, we have proposed that the Department reports back to the Portfolio Committee before the end of the year. The incoming Committee must ensure that this happens.
- While the new local government political system has been defined, the new local government financial system has still to be finalized. A major review of the local government financial system is underway, and progress in this regard needs to be speeded up. Aspects of this review includes:
- Implementation of the Municipal Finance Management Act
- Implementation of the Property Rates Bill
- Review of the formula for the "equitable share" allocations to local government
- Division of fiscal powers and functions between district and local municipalities
- Rationalisation of capacity-building grants
- Rationalisation of intergovernmental grants
- Additional sources of municipal revenue
The incoming Committee will have to pay considerable attention to issues of local government finance.
- The Portfolio Committee has been persistently concerned about local government capacity-building and training. Following a major workshop convened by the Portfolio Committee in May 2003 of all key stakeholders in this regard, a report was drawn up and a broad programme was agreed on on which the Department, SALGA and service providers were required to cooperate. The Committee intended to organize a follow-up workshop before the term of Parliament ended but unfortunately could not find the time to do this. The incoming Committee needs to follow-up on this as soon as possible.
- For much of the past 10 years, the Committee has not focused on provincial government. The precise responsibilities of the Committee in respect of provincial government is not clear in view of the Constitutional allocation of powers and functions to provincial government as well as the role of the NCOP in regard to provinces. Parliament needs to apply its mind to this and arrive at greater certainty about the role of the Portfolio Committee in respect of provincial government.
- Towards the end of 2003, the Committee passed national framework legislation on traditional leadership. Within this national framework, provinces have to pass legislation on traditional leadership. Until now, none of the provinces has. In consultation with the NCOP Select Committee on Local Government and Administration, the incoming Committee will have to consider how it can contribute to the provinces passing the necessary legislation within a reasonable time period. Certainly, the incoming Committee will have to monitor the provincial legislation for the extent to which it is consistent with the national legislation.
- The Committee has persistently raised the matter of its lack of technical support to fulfill its oversight role in respect of the budget. It will be necessary for the incoming Committee to pursue the possibility of securing the necessary support.