There was some urgency to some of the finance bills, such as the Appropriations Amendment Act, the Taxation Laws Amendment Act, the Tax Laws Administration Act and the Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws Act.
The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill was also passed. This gives effect to the tax proposals of the 2016-17 budget and the budgetary adjustments announced in the medium-term budget policy statement in October.
The long parliamentary recess for the local government elections meant these complex bills were adopted much later than usual by Parliament.
The Finance Act, which provides for the approval of unauthorised expenditure and the recovery of unauthorised expenditure, has also been signed into law.
The Rates and Monetary Amounts and Amendment of Revenue Laws (Administration) Bill provides for a special voluntary disclosure period ending June 2017, which will allow people with undeclared income and assets to regularise their financial affairs with the South African Revenue Service.
Also promulgated were the Unemployment Insurance Amendment Act, which extends the period of unemployment insurance from eight to 12 months, provides for the extension of benefits to learners on learnership training and to public servants,
and provides for a process of application for maternity benefits, which is separate from that of the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF).
The act will also provide benefits to workers who lost part of their pay due to reduced working hours.
If this critical act had been adopted earlier, it could have helped thousands of mine and other workers who have painfully lost their jobs over the past few years
Cosatu parliamentary co-ordinator Matthew Parks welcomed the promulgation of the act, which he said would benefit thousands of unemployed workers and mothers going on maternity leave.
“Cosatu’s only regret was that it took four long years for the government to pass this very progressive and badly needed act,” he said.
“If this critical act had been adopted earlier, it could have helped thousands of mine and other workers who have painfully lost their jobs over the past few years.”
Parks said Cosatu called on the Department of Labour and the board of the UIF to urgently increase the deployment of staff to their offices to ensure claimants were dealt with quickly and professionally.
“The days of endless queues at UIF offices need to come to an end,” he said.
Cosatu also called for further engagements to expand benefits to resignations and informal sector workers and for paternity, parental and adoption leave.
In addition, the Children’s Amendment Act and the Children’s Second Amendment Act were signed by the president, as well as the Performing Animals Protection Amendment Act.
By Linda Ensor