Bill de­ba­cle

Finweek English Edition - - COMPANIES & INVESTMENTS - David McKay

the leg­is­la­tion.

There is less suc­cess with the DMR, how­ever, which is push­ing for the amend­ments in an ef­fort to fur­ther the coun­try’s in­dus­tri­al­i­sa­tion strate­gies.

By declar­ing cer­tain min­er­als strate­gic, such as coal, the min­is­ter would be able to ei­ther en­force quo­tas on ex­ports; and con­trol the price of coal to Eskom. The con­se­quence of con­trol­ling the coal price would be to keep es­ca­la­tions in elec­tric­ity un­der con­trol, and en­cour­age in­vest­ment, Govern­ment ar­gues.

An­glo and BHP, two of SA’s largest coal ex­porters, claim stem­ming ex­ports would stop in­vest­ment in new mines.

Be­hind the scenes, the cham­ber has es­tab­lished ‘a com­mit­tee of prin­ci­pals’ with in­dus­try wor­thies on one side and the DMR on the other. There has been progress on tech­ni­cal as­pects of the amend­ment, such as sec­tion 11, which leg­is­lates a re­quire­ment to in­form the min­is­ter of changes in share­hold­ings, but the big is­sues, such as strate­gic min­er­als, have been stonewalled.

“Govern­ment is not budg­ing,” a le­gal source told Fin­week.

Roger Bax­ter, head of the CoM’s strat­egy and its se­nior econ­o­mist, de­clined to comment on specifics. “We’ve had a con­struc­tive en­gage­ment. We’ve ba­si­cally said the min­ing in­dus­try is in ICU and that the amend­ments may kill the pa­tient.” The process now is that the DMR will sit to dis­cuss the pub­lic feed­back at the port­fo­lio com­mit­tee ahead of de­liv­er­ing its own pub­lic com­ments on Oc­to­ber 11 and 12, along with Busi­ness Unity South Africa (BUSA). On Oc­to­ber 30, par­lia­ment will de­lib­er­ate on the amend­ment bill it­self.

“In gen­eral, I think the process has been use­ful in terms of the stake­hold­ers hav­ing an op­por­tu­nity to air the views, but I would be sur­prised – and de­lighted – if it re­sulted in any marked changes be­ing made,” said an­other le­gal source.

One con­cern has been the man­ner in which ob­jec­tions by busi­ness to the Labour Re­la­tions Amend­ment Act, which spoke to Cosatu’s in­ter­est in stricter en­force­ment of em­ploy­ment eq­uity, were re­jected by Govern­ment out of hand.

“Aside from the im­por­tance which the labour com­po­nent plays in the growth and suc­cess of the min­ing in­dus­try, the fact that the labour law de­vel­op­ments have oc­curred de­spite im­pas­sioned pleas from busi­ness to the con­trary dur­ing that con­sul­ta­tion process, can’t help but leave one with a ques­tion mark around the ex­tent to which the MPRDA amend­ments are a fore­gone con­clu­sion ir­re­spec­tive of the pre­sen­ta­tions given by the min­ing com­pa­nies and the mar­ket an­a­lysts,” said Bruce Fal­con, an at­tor­ney with Brink, Fal­con & Hulme Inc.

There’s hope, how­ever, that with par­lia­ment due to rise on 8 Novem­ber, the bill won’t get passed un­til next year by which time national elec­tions will start to oc­cupy the mind of Govern­ment. “The days in which par­lia­ment will sit will be­come very trun­cated,” says a source. This could mean the bill is de­layed into its fourth year.

Will stem­ming ex­ports stop in­vest­ments in new mines?

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.