Budget Vote 2 - Parliament
Remarks by JH Van Der Merwe
IFP Chief Whip

 

National Assembly: Cape Town, 21st June 2011 

Honourable Speaker:

 

The IFP joins all previous speakers in thanking your good office, all parliamentary personnel and all our Parliamentary colleagues for the conscientious hard work, efforts and expertise delivered in connection with the diligent running of this parliament.

 

Mr Speaker, as this is a budget vote debate, it is to the budget which we must turn our attention.

 

The total budget allocation for 2011/2012 is R1.674 billion

 

- an increase of R80.6 million from the previous year

 

- and an increase of R267 million from the 2009 period.

 

The questions that these figures raise are twofold.

 

Firstly: Are we getting value for money spent commensurate with the money allocated? 

 

Secondly: Is parliament utilizing this money as effectively as possible in the pursuit of its strategic objectives?

 

These are questions that we have to carefully consider and look more closely at.

 

I now turn to some other relevant issues:

 

1. A Parliamentary Budget Office

 

We still do not have one, which is essential structure. So Mr Speaker we accordingly ask that this be seriously attended to.

 

2. The proposed parliamentary building project

 

Mr Speaker, we are just starting to re-surface from a major economic downturn. We therefore do not think it the appropriate time to be embarking on such a project. We therefore propose this project be postponed.

 

3. The large number of parliamentary structures and the level of co-ordination and co-operation between these various structures.

 

This parliament has amongst others, Portfolio Committees, ad hoc committees, a Chief Whips Forum, programming forums, the QCF, Ethics Committee, the Rules Committee, the Joint Rules Committee and the POA. We in the IFP perceive the need for a far greater level of cohesion and co-ordination between these various structures as idealistically espoused in Section 40(1) of our Constitution calling for distinctive, interdependent and inter-related spheres of government. The good news is that the Chief Whips Forum will discuss this and other issues at a special workshop on 2 and 3 August.

 

4. Poor attendance of Committees

 

Another problem is the poor attendance rate at portfolio committee level which sometimes results in postponements. The solution appears to be that Whips are to enforce discipline much more strictly than in the past.

 

5. The Joint Rules and Rules Committee

 

Mr Speaker, I am sure that I will be joined by both yourself and all other political parties in this House when I say that the Joint Rules and NA Rules Committees are failing our parliament. In fact the Rules Committee has met on only two occasions since the start of this 4th parliament and for a total time period of 1hr45 minutes. This is not conducive to any kind of well functioning committee, let alone a Rules Committee. We also currently have some alleged unconstitutional rules in the Rules of the National Assembly -- rules that should have been addressed many years ago. Why has this not been attended to?

 

6. Hansard

 

Hansard's bound compilations take up to two years to be compiled and hard copies issued to members of this House. This is also unacceptable and must be addressed.

 

7. The composition of delegates in overseas parliamentary delegations

 

Mr Speaker, the IFP has been classed as a minority party together with all small parties, although we hold the equivalent votes of all the small parties put together. As a result we have to compete with the 8 small parties to have an IFP MP included in delegations.

 

We call upon your kind office to review this matter and suggest an increase of two delegates per delegation - one for the IFP and one for the small parties.

 

In conclusion, Mr Speaker, may I take this opportunity on behalf of the IFP to wish you and the entire parliamentary staff contingent as well as all our colleagues all the very best for the coming year. 

 

The IFP supports the vote. I thank you.

 

Contact: Koos van der Merwe MP, 082 444 4944