Mon. Apr 15th, 2024

The Portfolio Committee on Water and Sanitation has adopted the B-list version and committee report of the National Water Resource Infrastructure Agency (NWRIA) Bill, which brings to an end the committee’s consideration of the Bill. Having adopted the Bill and a report, the committee will recommend that the National Assembly adopts the Bill.

The National Water Resources Infrastructure Agency Bill seeks to ensure a sustainable, equitable and reliable supply of water from national water resources infrastructure while meeting constitutional obligations, including the national and regional social and economic objectives of national policy. The Bill also seeks to address the current fragmentation of asset management and revenue collection functions for national water resource infrastructure. Currently, functions between the Trans-Caledon Tunnel Authority, the Water Trading Entity and the department’s infrastructure branch are fragmented.

As part of the process, the committee received 120 public submissions, with oral submissions received from the National Economic Development and Labour Council (Nedlac), the South African Local Government Association (SALGA), the National Treasury and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU).

Some of the concerns raised during the public hearings included that there was no socio-economic impact assessment (SEIAS) on the Bill. The Department of Water and Sanitation has now confirmed that the Presidency approved the final SEIAS in June 2023, and the National Treasury has independently reviewed and assessed a business case for the NWRIA.

The portfolio committee proposed and adopted numerous amendments relating to the following clauses: 1, 3, 7, 9, 17, 34 and 35. Of critical importance to the committee was strengthening parliamentary oversight over the agency and critical amendments were made to ensure the submission of annual corporate plans and quarterly reports to Parliament, emphasising the role of the parliamentary committee in reviewing and engaging with these.

The Chairperson thanked Members of Parliament, departmental officials including legal officers, the Office of the Chief State Law Advisor and Parliament’s legal unit for their help in enabling the committee to reach this point.

Meanwhile, the committee adopted its legacy report and is satisfied with the work it has undertaken in the sixth term of Parliament. This work includes the reintroduction of the Blue, Green and No-Drop reports, which were published following the committee’s strong recommendations. Nonetheless, the committee remains cognisant of the enormous challenges facing the sector generally and emphasised that there should be more focus on service delivery in the seventh Parliament. This focus should emphasise strengthening the framework for intergovernmental relations to ensure that the provision of water and sanitation improves.

Furthermore, the committee highlighted the need to continue monitoring consequence management within the water value chain to ensure that individuals and companies found to have transgressed laws and regulations are held accountable. The committee remains of the view that the eradication of corruption is critical in achieving the mandate of water and sanitation provision to the people.

The committee has also highlighted the need to focus on monitoring the implementation of water and sanitation projects to ensure that projects are delivered on time and within budget.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Republic of South Africa: The Parliament.

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