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Gordhan must explain pensioner bonds: DA

The Democratic Alliance on Wednesday requested Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan to shed light on an unguaranteed Sanral debt owned by government pensioners.

Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan. Photo: Melinda Stuurman. Credit: INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS

DA shadow minister of finance Tim Harris wrote to standing committee on finance chair Thaba Mufamadi and requested that Gordhan be summoned to brief the committee on the status of the SA National Road Agency Ltd's debt, following the recent delay in the e-tolls.

In a statement Harris said a meeting of the finance committee revealed that five percent of the government employees pension fund’s (GEPF) bond holdings were made up of Sanral bonds.

However Arthur Moloto, chair of the fund’s board of trustees, on Wednesday confirmed only half of the R15,7 billion worth of bonds have a government guarantee.

“This raises the question of government pensioners’ exposure to default risk associated with almost R8 billion worth of their pensions,” Harris said.

“Moloto maintains that the unguaranteed amount is subject to an implicit government guarantee, given that the state is the sole shareholder of Sanral, but whether National Treasury agrees is unclear.”

He said the finance committee needed to establish government’s position on the unguaranteed debt and risk of default, given that Sanral's ability to service the debt now appeared to be compromised.

“This issue will have implications for South Africa’s credit rating.”

He said Gordhan also needed to provide further details on Sanral's bond issues and the GEPF’s bond purchases that apparently began around 2008.

“Questions arose in committee around whether the GEPF had knowledge of the e-tolling project when they purchased the Sanral bonds.”

Treasury spokesman Jabulani Sikhakhane said Gordhan was still waiting for a request from the portfolio committee on finance before he would clarify the matter.

“The National Treasury will (also) explain these matters in due course,” he said. - Sapa

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