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21 Feb 2017
10:27 pm

MPs ‘tweak’ Fica bill, return it to Zuma


The standing committee on finance adopted minor changes to the bill in line with recommendations by two independent senior counsel.

Parliament file picture

MPs on Tuesday signed off on minor changes to the Financial Intelligence Centre Amendment Bill, which will see it soon return to President Jacob Zuma’s desk.

The standing committee on finance fine-tuned the bill, which targets the proceeds of crime, in line with recommendations by two independent senior counsel, chairperson Yunus Carrim confirmed.

“The independent Senior Counsels for Parliament and National Treasury, Advocates (Ishmael) Semenya and (Jeremy) Gauntlett respectively, said that that the clause is constitutional, but that the Committee could, if it wanted, fine tune it to provide greater clarity,” Carrim said.

“This is what the committee did, based largely on wording provided by them. The other legal opinions provided also confirmed what Advocates Semenya and Gauntlett said. There was no policy issue at stake.”

Zuma referred the bill back to Parliament late last year, more than six months after it was approved by the National Assembly, citing concerns about the constitutionality of a clause that allows inspectors to conduct searches without a warrant in certain circumstances.

The committee’s report containing the changes will be served before the National Assembly soon. Zuma then has two choices. He could either sign the bill as is, or refer it to the Constitutional Court to decide if passes muster.

The to and fro over the measure has been seen as another sign of the power struggle between the president and National Treasury, which has pleaded that the legislation was urgently needed to protect the reputation of South Africa’s finance sector.

– African News Agency

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