Alarm bells over controversial investment bill

A controversial bill that has rung alarm bells with investors is a step closer to becoming law.

Parliament. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - A controversial bill that has rung alarm bells with investors is a step closer to becoming law.

The Promotion and Protection of Investment Bill, renamed the Protection of Investment Bill, was approved by Parliament's Trade and Industry committee despite opposition party objections.

The bill is intended to replace bilateral investment treaties with mostly European countries that are expiring and won't be renewed.

The government says the bill will ensure foreign and local investors are treated the same way.

But during public hearings in September, the European Union's regional Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the American Chamber of Commerce in South Africa warned it could deter investment in South Africa's struggling economy.

Red flags were also raised by mining companies here, who rely heavily on foreign investment.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) has accused the ANC of ramming the bill through the committee.

Party spokesman on Trade and Industry Geordin Hill Lewis said, "This bill was a great opportunity for us to address some of the concerns the investment community has about South Africa, about our policy direction, our commitment to the rule of law and to the protection of property and investments"

He said it's going to add to investor uncertainty.

"It's a missed opportunity and in fact it makes the situation worse. 85 percent of foreign investors in South Africa describe the bill as something that would deter further investment".

The bill will now go before the National Assembly for approval.