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Urgent budget bills in Parliament this week - Bill Watch 34/2012
Veritas
July 23, 2012

Both Houses of Parliament will continue sitting on Tuesday 24th July

Ceremonial opening of Fifth Session of Parliament Postponed

The present Fourth Parliamentary Session has had to be extended to allow both Houses to sit this week to deal with the follow-up to last Wednesday’s Mid-Year Fiscal Policy Review Statement by the Minister of Finance [see below]. Accordingly, the ceremony to open the Fifth Session, which had been scheduled for tomorrow, 24th July, has been postponed to a date still to be announced.

Coming up in Parliament This Week

House of Assembly

Urgent Budget Matters

On Tuesday 24th July the House will deal with the follow-up to the Fiscal Policy Review Statement, as follows:

  • debate on the Statement
  • approval of the Amended Estimates of Expenditure
  • passing of the Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill to give effect to the amended Estimates of Expenditure
  • passing of the Finance Bill to give effect to taxation law changes proposed by the Minister of Finance.

As the House has already approved a motion allowing fast-tracking of the Bills and a late evening sitting, completion on Tuesday may be feasible. Once passed, the two Bills will be transmitted to the Senate. [Copies of both Bills are available from veritas@mango.zw]

The Amended Estimates of Expenditure do not require Senate approval, so they will not be transmitted to the Senate.

Summary of Finance Bill

The Bill amends the Income Tax Act, the VAT Act, the Customs and Excise Act, the Revenue Authority Act and the Grain Marketing Board Act. Its provisions cover enforcement and administration of tax laws, but do not change tax or duty rates; they are designed to tighten up on collection of taxes, mining royalties, etc. by providing for:

  • increased powers for ZIMRA to enter premises, question individuals and demand production of documents
  • a ZIMRA presence on mining locations
  • an increase in the size of the ZIMRA Board to enhance its expertise
  • extension of the use of fiscalised cash registers for VAT purposes

Changes affecting rates, rebates and suspensions of taxes, royalties and duties will be enacted by statutory instruments not yet gazetted. The Minister said in his Statement last week that these will be gazetted soon and come into effect from 1st August.

The amendment to the Grain Marketing Act is to protect the Grain Marketing Board [GMB] from attachment and sale in execution of GMB property to satisfy court judgments obtained by GMB creditors for unpaid debts. This is to be done by applying the State Liabilities Act to legal proceedings against the GMB, as was done in 2010 to protect Reserve Bank property. [See further under Government Gazette, below.]

Senate

Bills

The Senate will be waiting to receive the Finance Bill and the Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill as soon as they are passed by the House of Assembly. Whether it will be able to deal with them on Tuesday – or will have to wait until Wednesday – depends on how quickly the House disposes of the Bills.

As the Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill is a “money bill” the Senate has no power to amend it, but is permitted to make recommendations for amendments for the consideration of the House of Assembly. Any such recommendations must be considered by the House, and either accepted or rejected; and recommendations accepted by the House will be incorporated in the Bill, which will then be submitted to the President for his assent without having to be referred back to the Senate.

Motions

The main unfinished business is discussion and adoption or otherwise of the PLC’s seventeen adverse reports on statutory instruments.

AU Summit: SA’s Dlamini-Zuma New AU Commission Chair

AU Heads of State and Government meeting in Addis Ababa on 19th July elected South Africa’s Minister of Home Affairs, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, as the Chairperson of the AU Commission, which is the Secretariat of the AU. Erastus Mwencha from Kenya was re-elected as Deputy Chairperson.

Six of eight other vacant positions on the ten-member Commission were also filled; the successful candidates were Mr Ramtane Lamamra from Algeria (Peace and Security), Ms Aisha Abdullah from Nigeria (Political Affairs), Ms Elham Mahmoud from Egypt (Infrastructure and Economy), Mr Mustapha Kaloko from Sierra Leone (Social Affairs), Ms Fatima Acyl from Chad (Trade and Industry) and Ms Rhoda Tumusiime from Uganda (Rural Economy and Agriculture). This left two positions unfilled: Commissioner for Human Resources, Science and Technology and Commissioner for Economic Affairs. The Summit decided that the elections for these positions would be carried over to its next meeting in January 2013.

The Summit spent much time on and was more successful in dealing with the election of office holders than in coming up with answers to the imminent war between Sudan and South Sudan, the eruptions in the Eastern DRC, the takeover of a large portion of Mali by non-government forces and the resulting displacements of hundreds of thousands of people, the threat to peace and security posed by the fundamentalist Islamic terror groups in northern west Africa.

Status of Bills

Bills passed and awaiting Presidential assent and gazetting as Acts

Bills gazetted and awaiting presentation in House of Assembly

  • Appropriation (2012) Amendment Bill
  • Finance Bill

Bill being printed for presentation [not yet available]

Securities Amendment Bill [the page proofs of this important Bill were delivered to the drafter for checking on 20th July]

Government Gazette of 20th July

Statutory Instruments

Presidential Powers regulations – legal actions against Grain Marketing Board

SI 125/2012 contains regulations, effective from today, 20th July, made by the President under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act which are essential reading for creditors of the Grain Marketing Board [GMB] and their legal practitioners. The object of this temporary measure is to protect the GMB’s assets from attachment and sale in execution by creditors pending the enactment into law of the Finance Bill [see above]. The regulations seek to do this by making the State Liabilities Act applicable to legal proceedings against the GMB, including proceedings that were determined on 8th June 2012. Clause 11 of the Finance Bill contains a similar, but permanent and more comprehensive, provision.

Listeners’ licences

SI 121/2012 contains the Broadcasting Services (Notice to Appear in Court) Regulations. The regulations set out a Notice to Appear in Court form [Form BS1], to be served by a ZBC licence inspector on an unlicensed listener. The form – which is not a model of clarity – requires the accused listener to appear in court to face a charge of unlicensed possession of a receiver/s, but allows for payment of an admission of guilt deposit fine as a means of avoiding a court appearance.

Local authority by-laws

There are three sets of by-laws for Bindura Municipal Council: refuse removal [SI 122/2012], cemeteries [SI 123/2012] and anti-litter [SI 124/2012].

General Notices

GN 307/2012 notifies the appointment by the Minister of Labour and Social Services, under the Disabled Persons Act, of fourteen persons to serve as members of the National Disability Board for a 5-year term of office until 21st February 2017.

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