Changes to laws affecting business on cards

Agencies falling under the Department of Trade and Industry are being restructured to make them directly accountable to the department rather than to their own boards of directors.

The National Credit Regulator has already been restructured along these lines and the National Gambling Board and the National Regulator for Compulsory Specifications will follow suit this year.

Department deputy directorgeneral Zodwa Ntuli said an assessment found not only did the boards of directors of these agencies incur unnecessary expenses, but they impeded the swift decision-making necessary for regulators and the industries they regulated.

Restructuring was not aimed at giving department officials greater control over the entities. “We want structures that make it easier for these entities to be effective.”

On the other hand, the liquor regulator, a unit within the department, would become a trading entity with greater operational independence, she said.

The National Gambling Board – currently under the management of two administrators appointed by Trade and Industry Minister Rob Davies – would be repositioned as a regulator focused on combating illegal gambling rather than simply having oversight duties.

It would be transformed into a trading entity of the Department of Trade and Industry in the same way as the Black Economic Empowerment Commission would be, although it might be physically located outside the department, with its own staff and independent structure.

Audit committees and other internal committees that ensured good governance would be retained.

The National Lotteries Board – which would become the National Lotteries Commission – would retain a board to oversee the distribution of large sums of revenue.

Also mooted is the Investment Promotion and Protection Bill, to replace the investment protection provisions of bilateral investment treaties South Africa has terminated. The draft Licensing of Businesses Bill will require all businesses to be licensed with a municipality.

Amendments to the National Gambling Act aim to strengthen enforcement against online gambling.

Other bills pending are the Copyright Bill and the Liquor Amendment Bill. Ntuli said Davies and provincial MECs had agreed on national norms and standards to be addressed in the amendments, which would also specify trading hours.

The liquor bill would also introduce conditions the industry must comply with relating to the harm caused by liquor abuse.

Labour Department chief director Thembinkosi Mkalipi said amendments were planned to change the Unemployment Insurance Fund Act to extend benefits from nine to 12 months; the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act to tighten up governance and control provisions; and the Occupational Health and Safety Act to clarify obligations of employers and facilitate the work of inspectors.

– Linda Ensor

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