Parliament passes tax amendment bill
27 November 2015
Posted by: Author: Emsie Ferreira
Author: Emsie Ferreira (IOL)
The National Assembly on Thursday passed the Taxation Laws Amendment Bill which has been met with heated opposition from the Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu).
The trade union federation has warned that its members were likely to withhold support for the ANC in next year’s local government elections if Parliament passed the bill which restricts direct access to retirement savings.
Yunus Carrim, the chairman of Parliament’s standing committee on finance, noted that negotiations with Cosatu continued until the weekend, and suggested that the labour movement was being obtuse by objecting to a measure that would ultimately benefit its members.
"Cosatu opposes the bill though it is in the interest of its members,” he said, adding that the best efforts on the part of Treasury and MPs failed to bring the federation to reason.
One of the key provisions of the bill is that it will make it compulsory to use two-thirds of any provident fund to buy an annuity. Cosatu considers this an attempt by the legislature to force its members to save.
Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene in turn hailed the negotiations and changes to the bill, made at the insistence of opposition parties as an example of "democracy in action”.
However, Nene came in for fiery criticism from opposition parties over the money bills. They complained that the National Treasury gave MPs too little time to consider critical measures.
"Never ever again will you toss money bills on the table and expect us to rubber-stamp them,” Democratic Alliance chief whip John Steenhuisen said.
He claimed that Nene was "not respecting” the legislature’s oversight role and that the bills resembled a "dog’s breakfast”.
Carrim in his statement to the chamber on the bills conceded that the time frames on the money bills were "not ideal”.
A protracted strike by parliamentary staff belonging to the National Education, Health and Allied Workers’ union has put further pressure on MPs, given that several sittings of the National Assembly had been suspended.
The parliamentary session has been extended to allow MPs to approve critical legislation, but chief whips this week took a decision to remove less urgent items from the legislature’s schedule.
This article first appeared on iol.co.za.