Cape Town -
Parliament’s new post-retirement travel policy, which could see MPs with 15 years or more service given 24 business-class air flights a year for 10 years, has been agreed to in principle, but must still be adopted if it is to come into effect.
This policy was agreed to by the national legislature’s Parliamentary Oversight Authority (POA), and is touted as a move to close the gap between parliamentarians and former ministers and their deputies, according to the “Announcements, Tablings and Committee Reports” (ATC), a record of Parliament’s work.
Currently, retired parliamentarians receive four single plane tickets a year, while former members of the executive receive 78, paid from Parliament’s budget, according to an insider, as ministers and their deputies remain members of Parliament.
The new post-retirement travel privileges would see parliamentarians who served one term of five years receive eight single economy air tickets a year for 10 years; those who served 10 years, 16 single economy tickets; and those with three terms under their belts 24 single business-class tickets a year.
This could add tens of millions of rand expenditure from the national coffers at a time when Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan has called for cost cutting.
And in a potentially controversial decision, the oversight authority decided these post-retirement travel privileges should also apply to all nine provincial legislatures, benefiting a total of 430 MPLs in addition to the 400 National Assembly MPs and 54 National Council of Provinces (NCOP) delegates. The authority report also said there should be no restriction on the number of tickets used by a spouse from this new quota.
Aside from adoption by Parliament, according to the ATC of March 11, the matter must still be discussed with the Finance Ministry and the leader of government business – currently Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.
The new post-retirement policy could be adopted before the May 7 elections if the National Assembly and NCOP were recalled. The new travel privileges for retired parliamentarians may be on the agenda.
Parliament said on Sunday that there had not yet been a decision whether to recall the National Assembly. It rose in mid-March so MPs could hit the election campaign trail.
However, on Sunday it emerged that the DA caucus had not yet been briefed on the new travel privileges when DA federal chairman Wilmot James issued a statement saying the party was “concerned” about the proposal, but would “remain clear in our established view that politicians must get off the gravy train – this must include MPs”.