Parliament is moving closer to final consideration of the supplementary 2020 Adjustment Budget, which Minister of Finance Mr Tito Mboweni tabled on 24 June.
The Public Finance Management Act and the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act empowers the Minister of Finance to table an adjustments budget, when necessary. A special Adjustment Budget became necessary because of the COVID-19 pandemic and increased economic downturn in the country.
Parliament must approve the supplementary 2020 Adjustment Budget, before it can be implemented. The Constitution confers this power on Parliament. The Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act (Act 9 of 2009) has also empowered Parliament to make amendments to the national budget. Since democracy, public hearings have featured in Parliament’s consideration of the budget.
Since June, when Minister Mboweni tabled the 2020 Special Adjustment Budget, Parliament has agreed to the Revised Fiscal Framework. This happened on 8 July, at separate plenary sittings of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP).
The 2020 Revised Fiscal Framework sets out overall estimates of revenue collection, expenditure, borrowing, interest and debt servicing for a particular financial year. It also provides motivation for the 2020 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill – which allocates funds to the national, provincial and local spheres of government – and for the 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill. This Bill allocates funds to specific departments and entities of the state – including Parliament, itself.
The NA passed the 2020 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill at its plenary sitting on 15 July. The NCOP is scheduled to consider the Bill at its plenary sitting on Wednesday.
Once the 2020 Division of Revenue Amendment Bill is passed, the NA and NCOP consider the 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill, which makes specific allocations to specific departments and entities.
Parliament’s consideration of the 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill is preceded by scrutiny of these specific budget allocations. The NA is scheduled to hold mini-plenary sittings from tomorrow until 24 July on these specific allocations. The NCOP is also scheduled to hold debates on them during this time.
The 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill is provisionally scheduled for consideration at a plenary sitting of the NA on 29 July. If the NA passes the Bill, it will be transferred for concurrence to the NCOP. The NCOP is provisionally scheduled to consider the 2020 Adjustments Appropriation Bill on 31 July and on 4 August. The supplementary Adjustment Budget will be sent to the President for assent if the NA and NCOP both pass it.
A second adjustments budget will be tabled in October as usual, with the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement, which sets out government priorities for the next three years. This provides another opportunity to adjust the budget, if unforeseeable and unavoidable conditions make this necessary.