Budget Debates or Rubber Stamps

The fortnight covering 15th to 24th July 2014 saw a perfunctory parliamentary program of budget debates, 24 debates in 5 parliamentary days over the period.  See here and here.

That would work out at roughly 5 debates a day or 24 debates in a 40 hour week, an average of 1 hour 40 minutes per debate.

Do you think that is adequate to properly debate any single portfolio?  We don’t think so.  It is a thinly disguised rubber stamp and smacks of indecent haste.  Makes one wonder what the ANC don’t want to be revealed by adequate debate and disclosure.  No wonder the Nkandla fiasco was possible.  Nkandla in itself warranted a 40 hour debate (and then needed to be thrown out), let alone the time needed to properly investigate and sign off on the rest of public works and or the president’s budget.

The Direct Democracy Forum doesn’t have a specific policy on budget debates but would expect all budget debates to be allocated an adequate time for proper assimilation, debate and approval by both the legislative assembly and the Senate.  That would not be less than the time needed for adequate debate in committee and in a plenary session of the legislative assembly, for each budget, at the very least a two day process, and then each budget would have to go forward to the Senate for its approval.  That would be nothing like the indecent haste of the rubber stamps dished out by the current ANC led parliament.  Those minimum requirements would be Constitutional requirements.

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