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Fiscal committee has not met since 2017 - Ramaphosa

Sep 05 2018 20:45
Khulekani Magubane

A high-level fiscal committee formerly chaired by the president hasn't met since Cyril Ramaphosa assumed office, Parliament heard on Wednesday. 

Ramaphosa was issuing a written response to a question from Democratic Alliance MP David Maynier, who had followed up on an earlier question he posed in June about the Presidential Fiscal Committee. Maynier asked when the committee was established, when it last met and which officials formed the committee.

During the course of the year, the country has faced worsening unemployment data, governance challenges at state-owned companies and recent news of a technical recession.

In his reply to Maynier, Ramaphosa said The Presidential Fiscal Committee (PFC) was established on 11 October 2017.

He said the decision was taken at a meeting attended by then-president Jacob Zuma as chair, Ramaphosa himself as deputy president, then-minister of finance Malusi Gigaba, then-minister in the presidency Jeff Radebe, then-minister of science and technology Naledi Pandor, Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel, then-minister of energy David Mahlobo and then-deputy minister of finance Sfiso Buthelezi.

Ramaphosa said the position of Chairperson was later delegated by the president to the Minister of Finance.

"As detailed in the Government statement of 14 November 2017, the Committee was mandated to work with the National Treasury and other stakeholders to find creative ways of meeting the country’s fiscal targets and resolving competing priorities," said Ramaphosa.

He said the PFC was tasked with considering the proposals prepared by the National Treasury to bring public finances back onto a sustainable path.

"The Committee was further mandated to make recommendations and to provide advice on spending priorities which may be considered.

"The secretariat of the PFC sits with the National Treasury, and therefore all secretariat-related questions should be re-directed to the PFC secretariat."

The PFC faced controversy when it was first established, with government saying it was simply "advisory" and not intended to usurp Treasury's powers. At the time, Zuma said the committee was working with Treasury to help it achieve its targets in time for Budget 2018.

Ramaphosa added that while the Committee has not formally been disbanded, it has not met since 21 November 2017.



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