The Congress of South African Trade Unions welcomes the NCOP’s adoption of the Financial Matters Amendment Bill today. The federation supports and welcomes this progressive pro-worker bill. It is a key foundation block for the expansion of state-owned banks.COSATU’s support for the FMA Bill’s is based on its amendment of the following acts:
1. Military Pensions Act:
Will be amended to fall in line with the Constitution’s anti-discrimination vision by recognising that military personnel are no longer men only but also women, that their spouses may be male or female, and that they may be married or partnered under different legal regimes.
This is long overdue and critical as it has often resulted in delays when processing pension and beneficiary payments to deceased military personnel’s spouses and partners and thus their children as well.
2. Government Employees’ Pension Act:
Will be amended to speed up GEPF divorce settlement processes when members of the GEPF divorce and then need to separate their assets (e.g. GEPF) with their now ex-spouses and partners.
This is important as divorces by their nature are acrimonious and the newly separated ex-partners need to quickly separate and build new lives e.g. set up new homes, purchase furniture etc. Delays in settling the separation of pensions and assets hurt in particular mothers and children.
3. Insolvency Act:
Will be amended to provide for surety of assets and credit for investors. This is part of South Africa’s obligations arising from its membership of the G20 and a key requirement for international banks and investors to remain and to continue to invest in South Africa.
Workers, battered by a 37% unemployment rate and rising levels of retrenchments, need investments, both local and international, as part of ensuring the implementation of the Presidential Jobs’ Summit’s Job Creation Plans.
4. Banks Act:
Will be amended to allow State-Owned Enterprises to apply for banking licenses.
SOEs will be required to be in a healthy financial state when applying for banking licenses and in particular for their assets to exceed their liabilities for the previous 2 years, as well as to have the authorisation of both their line function Minister and the Finance Minister.
SOE owned banks will be subject to the same licensing requirements and oversight as all other banks.
COSATU supports the expansion of state banks as it will help end the de facto monopolies in the banking sector, ensure greater competition, lower bank charges; and bring greater accessibility to the marginalised and poor as well as neglected sectors of the economy.
COSATU submitted additional amendments to further strengthen the checks and balances and oversight for SOEs applying for bank licenses. These are critical to protecting the fiscus and workers from possible looting as it will be taxpayers and workers who will pay the price if any SOE bank requires a bailout in future.
As the NCOP has now concluded its work today and thus there was not sufficient time to amend the FMA Bill, the NCOP has agreed to COSATU’s request to refer its proposed amendments to the 6th Parliament for consideration.
For further information please contact: Matthew Parks COSATU Parliamentary Coordinator
Cell: 082 785 0687