Speech by Rubben Mohlaloga, Chairperson of the Agriculture & Land Affairs PC, during the debate on the consideration of the NCOP amendments on the Liquor Products Amendment Bill
22 September 2008
The Liquor Products Amendment Bill seeks to amend the Liquor Products Act of 1989 which provides for control over the sale and production for sale of alcoholic products for drinking purposes. It also provides for the composition and properties for such products and for the control over the import and export of such products.
As indicated above the Liquor Products Act therefore predates the period of lifting of sanctions and with our reentry into the world economy new obligations and opportunities have arisen and the Liquor Products Amendment bill seeks to respond to those obligations and opportunities thus presented.
The principal act allowed certain wine cultivars for the production of wine which is no longer the case now thus there was a need for the principal act to be amended in that regard.
One of the important aspect of the amendment bill was the area of the Wine and Spirit Board. The principal act provides that members of the Board would be nominated by KWV, Cape Wine and Spirit Institute which speaks on behalf of the producers and merchants.
The problem with this arrangement is that there have been structural changes in the industry so the composition of the boars as is no longer representative of all the participants in the Industry.
The Amendment Bill seeks to ensure that the composition of the board is in line with the changes that have occurred in the structure of the industry as the previous one was mainly intended to benefit KWV, and today we have many players.
The Bill provides that the board will be composed of members with skills, knowledge or expertise in viticulture, oenology, distilling and the regulatory environment of the liquor industry.
In terms of the appointment process the amendment bill provides that the minister will establish the selection committee which would recommend to the minister a shortlist of eligible candidates and submit its recommendation to the Minister.
These will be preceded by a process of public participation, through invitation of interested parties to nominate any such persons as they think posses the necessary requirements as spelt out.
The amendment coming from the NCOP suggests that the minister should appoint the Board after consultation with parliament. We understand parliament to include the NCOP in this instance.
In our view as the committee the process laid down in the bill is sufficient for us to have the right persons appointed to perform their duties as stipulated in the principal act and this bill.
As I indicated it provides for a public involvement and the selection committee that would advise the minister. We could not in our understanding of the role of this Board see the need for parliament to be involved in its appointment.
We think that the provision that obliges the minister to notify parliament of the appointment of the board after 30 days after such an appointment is sufficient.
We could not elevate the role of Wine and Spirit Board to the chapter nine or similar institutions. So there was no constitutional basis for us as parliament to get involved in the appointment of the board whose work is purely specialist and technical.
It’s our view that there is no constitutional basis for us to get involved as this is a purely executive function in which parliament would not have interest in involving itself.
In considering this amendment from the NCOP it was only the IFP that abstained from the vote but otherwise the committee was at one in rejecting that amendment.
I thank you!