Chairperson and hon members, I thank you for supporting this Division of Revenue Bill. I take it that the support we need is from this House' and nowhere else.
In tabling the Division of Revenue Bill together with the Budget this year a number of changes were tabled. Let me touch on a few of them. Firstly, there is the number of policy adjustments. The first one is the human resettlements function which is being assigned to six metropolitan municipalities, where the target date of assignment to those accredited municipalities is 1 July 2013.
Secondly, in the Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement the Minister announced that over the next three years government aims to achieve better value for money from investment in provincial infrastructure.
A new system is being introduced to improve planning and implementation in provincial health, education and infrastructure. Many of the members raised the issue of capacity and implementation as an issue. This is being addressed, and we would like municipalities and provinces to focus on and also pay particular attention to the use of the Infrastructure Delivery Improvement Programme, Idip.
Thirdly, the Department of Health, as hon Mashigo has indicated, currently administers three conditional grants targeted at addressing health infrastructure backlogs in the provinces. Those grants have been merged together in order to achieve some flexibility and relevant clauses deal with the implementation of that shift.
Fourthly, reporting requirements for infrastructure grants have been strengthened in a number of clauses, namely clauses 9(1)(d), 10(7)(a) and 11(4)(c). Provinces will now be required to gazette lists of infrastructure projects for education, health and roads for all projects funded from conditional allocations.
Fifthly, various grants are targeted towards disaster relief. Mr Bhoola made mention of expediting the disbursement of this disaster relief funding, including provincial and local government disaster grants. This has been attended to.
Mr Swart talks about the new municipal water grant which does not make provision for sanitation. If you read the document properly, you will realise that the rural households infrastructure grant is specifically targeted towards sanitation roll-out in rural areas and onsite solutions. The municipal infrastructure grant also targets this infrastructure. If you read the document properly, you will understand that that matter has been addressed.
The other problem is with regard to underspending on conditional grants by municipalities. This new municipal water grant will also use existing capacity in the system such as the water boards and other structures. The Municipal Infrastructure Support Agency, Misa, which is in the Department of Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs, is also part of the instruments that we are going to use in order to get efficiencies here. The SA Local Government Association, Salga, also plays a key role in supporting municipalities.
Mr Singh talks about Parliament having an earlier say in the Budget process. The Medium-Term Budget Policy Statement is your first opportunity to engage. But the other matter you raised, together with a number of other members, is with regard to Parliament not being able to amend money Bills even though legislation is already in place. You say it is because of the constraints. Besides those constraints, I think we must remember that before you are able to implement any legislation - and this is our legislation - you must take into account, firstly, the days of our Lord - that's how long a year is. Secondly, there is the parliamentary process. All those timeframes were put in place in order to fit in that process. Therefore, if you actually wanted to do anything, maybe we would have to appeal for the expansion of the days of our Lord, and the parliamentary process will then also be able to fit.
But, as things stand, I think you've missed an opportunity, because you could have engaged in it. The Division of Revenue Act, Dora, was tabled together with the Budget in February. Between February and now, if you had applied the legislation as it stands, you would have been able to do that.
Mr Ramatlakane also refers to Dora as a money Bill. Dora isn't a money Bill; we all know that. So, it wouldn't have been impacted upon by this legislation. Those are the restraints we will have to operate within but we will be able to implement it. I also trust the support. We fully welcome the establishment of the Budget Office that will assist in giving members adequate information and expertise that will enable them to engage in the process.
You also talk about the national departments where direct grants must have substantial oversight over the responsibilities and the shift, moving to local municipalities. As we know, that infrastructure function is actually a constitutionally mandated basic need and local government should take full charge of this.
I think we should not focus on where the grant resides, but on where it is most effective. I think we have a duty and a role, particularly in the Appropriations committee and the sector committees, to use all these instruments that we have put in place to make sure that we exercise oversight and ensure that the grants are well and properly spent. We must also deal with all other issues that members have raised, including the issue of fraud and corruption. Unless we deal with that one in all its manifestations, we will not be able to resolve the issue of leakages in government.
Concerning the issue that money was being spent on consultants and could have been used elsewhere, I find Mr Ramatlakane's calculation quite suspect. But it all remains to be seen, because now that you are going to have an opportunity to deal with each department that has spent money on consultants, you will be able to determine exactly how much of it shouldn't have been spent on consultants. We can't just say all money spent on consultants has been inappropriately spent.
I have responded to your failure to amend legislation, but I trust that the legislation before us, as it has been supported by all of us, will be acceptable to this House.
Mr Harris, I see you have imposed yourself as a member of the Appropriations committee. Your status as shadow minister of finance causes problems, because you raise shadow arguments. [Laughter.] Firstly, he focuses on one paragraph in the entire Division of Revenue Bill and says that as long as it is not supported by the Congress of South African Trade Unions, Cosatu ... [Interjections.] Since when are you persuaded by Cosatu's response on matters raised in this House? Since when are you an advocate of the voice of labour in this House?
Everybody has appeared before the committee and all these matters have been taken into consideration. They have been brought to this House with the recommendation that we all support the Division of Revenue Bill. That's the support we have just received. For your information, this Bill, together with the Appropriation Bill, has also been tabled at the National Economic Development and Labour Council, Nedlac, with no dissenting voice. The issues that you are mentioning are matters that are out there because they are exactly similar to those you share with Cosatu in the opposition about e-tolling, but you don't bring them here. But now you come here selectively and say that because the National Development Plan, NDP, is not supported, the Dora is also not supported. That's far below the belt. However, we understand it is election time, Mr Harris. Go ahead and enjoy yourself. We will all play into that space when the time comes. But for now you can start with yours upfront.
Regarding the issue of the closing of schools that you tried to respond to, the fact of the matter is that the schools that were closed by the DA in the Western Cape were in poor communities. The schools that you talk about as having been opened are in affluent areas. For that I must tell you ... [Interjections.] We thank you for supporting the Division of Revenue Bill that we are tabling here today, together with the DA, although you have reservations. It takes forward the transformation agenda of the ANC. [Interjections.] You can go ahead and change your mind, you will still ... [Interjections.]
Thanks to the committee that has dealt with the Division of Revenue Bill. We are confident that the implementation is also going to be supported by all, as hon Gelderblom has called upon all of us to work towards making sure that this is implemented, and that we make sure that the funds that have been allocated are spent and are appropriately spent. We all take up the fight of making sure there are no leakages and of defeating the scourge of corruption and leakages. Thank you very much. [Applause.]
Bill read a second time.