Parliament to Sit on 21st January: Update on Bills

Both Houses of Parliament will Sit again on Tuesday 21st January

Tuesday 21st January is the date fixed by both the National Assembly and the Senate for their next sittings after the presentation of the 2014 Budget by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning on 19th December. Budget business tops the National Assembly Order Paper.

Bills ready for presentation During the Parliamentary recess several Bills, listed below, have been gazetted. Of these, the three Budget bills are expected to be dealt with first, after the approval of the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for 2013 and the Estimates of Expenditure for 2014.

Bill being printed The Government Printer is working on the National Prosecuting Authority Bill. No other Bills are currently being printed for gazetting and subsequent presentation in Parliament.

Bills Gazetted This Month

The Bills listed below were gazetted in Government Gazettes dated 3rd January [Electoral Amendment Bill and three Budget-related Bills] and 10th January [the other two Bills listed].

Budget-related Bills

[available from Veritas, see addresses at end of bulletin]

National Assembly members spent 13th January in a Post-Budget Seminar and the rest of last week in portfolio committee meetings analysing the Budget, in preparation for this week’s plenary sittings [see Bill Watch Parliamentary Committees Series 1/2014 of 10th January].

Appropriation (Supplementary) Bill, 2013 [H.B. 9, 2013]

This is a Bill to condone unauthorised expenditure incurred during the financial year 2013 – as the Minister of Finance put it in his Budget Statement, “to accommodate higher expenditure than that provided for in the 2013 Budget … with respect to the Referendum, Harmonised Elections, food security and selected projects as well as on employment costs.” Details of the total unbudgeted expenditure of $492 million are given in the Supplementary Estimates of Expenditure for 2013: for example, $142 million for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission; $36 million for the President’s Office [including $15 million of which was for foreign travel]; $26 million for the Ministry of Defence; $90 million for the Ministry of Agriculture; $82 million for the Ministry of Home Affairs.

Note: The Constitution, like its predecessor, requires the Minister of Finance to introduce a Bill to condone unauthorised expenditure no later than 60 days after the extent of the expenditure has been established [Constitution, section 307].

The Supplementary Estimates also reveal higher expenditure than originally estimated on constitutional and statutory appropriations [“cons and stats”]. These are standing authorisations for payment of such obligations as salaries, allowances and pensions for the President, judges and other high State officers and payment of interest on State loans, which are all provided for in the Constitution and various Acts of Parliament and therefore do not have to be annually approved in an Appropriation Act. The amount involved is $262 million. Expenditure for 2013 would nevertheless, said the Minister, remain within the revised estimated revenue targets of for 2013 [$3,7 billion].

Appropriation (2014) Bill, 2013 [H.B. 10, 2013]

This Bill provides for expenditure for the financial year January to December 2014. The total amount requiring Parliamentary authorisation is $3.6 billion. Constitutional and statutory appropriations, not reflected in the Bill, are estimated to require $480 million.

Finance Bill, 2013 [H.B. 11, 2013]

This provides for the implementation of those parts of the Minister’s taxation proposals that require enactment by Parliament. The proposals that could be dealt with by statutory instrument have already been gazetted [see under Statutory Instruments, below]. The Bill covers:

• income tax

• value added tax [including provision for collection of tax on the exportation of unbeneficiated hides and platinum]

• capital gains tax

• mining sector –gold royalties under the Mines and Minerals Act; Minerals Marketing Corporation of Zimbabwe Act [dividends payable to Government, depletion fees payable on minerals marketed by MMCZ]; “use it or lose it” amendments to the Mines and Minerals Act; and the Zimbabwe Mining Development Corporation Act [controls on paying dividends to Government and repayment of capital].

Electoral Amendment Bill [H.B. 7, 2013]

This Bill will be summarised separately. It is necessitated by the expiry on 10th December of the temporary amendments made to the Electoral Act by President Mugabe for the purposes of the July 2013 harmonised elections [SI 85/2013]. As a result of that expiry, the Electoral Act no longer complies with the new Constitution. [See Bill Watch 60/2013 of 17th December 2013 for an explanation of the lapsing of SI 85/2013 and its implications.] Some of the provisions of SI 85/2013 have been dropped or changed in the preparation of the Bill.

Sovereign Wealth Fund of Zimbabwe Bill [H.B. 6/2013]

The purpose of this Bill, heralded by the President when opening Parliament in September last year, is to provide for the establishment and objects of the Sovereign Wealth Fund and to set out the powers of the Fund’s Board. The objects of the fund are to make secure investments for the benefit of future generations of Zimbabweans. Up to one-quarter of Government’s royalties on gold, diamonds, platinum, chrome and other minerals and its special dividends on the sale of diamonds, as specified each year in the annual Finance Act, must be paid into the Fund. Future generations are to benefit by the Fund’s support for development objectives and fiscal and macroeconomic stabilisation, and its contributions to Government revenues from the net returns on its investments.

Biological and Toxin Weapons Control Bill [H.B. 5.2013]

This Bill is to enable Zimbabwe to implement its obligations under international conventions prohibiting biological and toxin weapons and bacteriological methods of warfare.

Income Tax Bill to be Reconsidered by Parliament

The Income Tax Bill was passed in haste by the last Parliament just before its dissolution in June 2013. It was announced in December that President Mugabe had withheld his assent and returned the Bill to Parliament for reconsideration in the light of his reservations about the Bill. [See Bill Watch 62/2013 of 20th December 2013 for a list of those reservations as reflected in the Parliamentary announcement.]

Statutory Instruments Recently Gazetted

Budget-related statutory instruments [not available from Veritas]

Several SIs were gazetted on 31st December 2013 to take effect from 1st January 2014:

Customs and excise tariff changes are made by SI 175/2013.

Tourism sector: customs duty rebates and suspensions SI 173/2013 is devoted to rebates for the tourism sector. SI 172/2013 provides for suspension of duty on specified motor vehicles imported by tourism operators.

Other rebates and suspensions SI 169/2013 provides for rebates on travellers’ effects and goods for construction projects, SI 176/2013 for rebates for clothing manufacturers. SI 174/2013 amends the suspensions for goods imported from SADC countries.

Ports of entry SI 170/2013 changes the business hours of the Kazungula and Victoria Falls customs houses.

VAT SI 171/2013 implements the changes to zero-rating of goods promised by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning in the Budget Statement.

Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Regulations

Three sets of regulations were gazetted under the Presidential Powers (Temporary Measures) Act on 3rd January:

Amendment of Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act [SI 2/2014]

This makes further changes to the Money Laundering and Proceeds of Crime Act, to bring it into conformity with Zimbabwe’s international obligations. Deficiencies remained in the Act even after the publication of a Revised Version by the Law Reviser. The preamble to the SI states that the resort to Presidential Powers is necessitated by the deadline imposed by the Financial Action Task Force [FATF], which is the relevant international authority [not yet available from Veritas].

Amendment of Criminal Law Code [SI 3/2014]

This SI inserts a new Part VIA into the Code, penalising “sea piracy” [not yet available from Veritas]. This, too, is a response to the urgent requirements of the FATF, in view of the links between sea piracy, transnational organised crime and money-laundering. [Note: No attempt is made in the SI to tackle the changes to the Code necessitated by the new Constitution.]

Domestication of Palermo Protocol against Trafficking in Persons [SI 4/2014]

This SI was noted in detail in Bill Watch 1/2014 of 8th January. Again, the involvement in trafficking of transnational organised crime has necessitated prompt action at the insistence of the FATF. [SI available from Veritas, see addresses at end of bulletin]

General Notices

Redenomination of capital of Infrastructure Development Bank

GN 8/2014 of 17th January notifies the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning’s approval of the redenomination in US dollars of the Bank’s capital.

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