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Pretoria - The transactions of the Tirisano Trust, the socio-economic development fund to which seven listed construction companies will collectively contribute R1.5 billion over 12 years in terms of an agreement reached with the government, should be open to public scrutiny.

Minister of Economic Development Ebrahim Patel gave this commitment in a parliamentary response to a question posed by Michael Cardo, a DA MP.

In terms of the Voluntary Rebuilding Programme (VRP) agreement with the government, the seven companies collectively agreed to contribute R1.5 billion for development projects and committed to promote transformation and black participation and ownership in the sector to settle outstanding and potential civil claims by government entities.

This followed the companies entering into consent agreements with the Competition Commission in 2013 after admitting collusion and bid-rigging in contravention of the Competition Act.

Patel said the Tirisano Trust was in the process of being set up and once the process was complete, the trustees would allocate funding on an annual basis.

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He said the money would come via the National Revenue Fund and be appropriated by Parliament to the fund and there would therefore be parliamentary accountability.

“It has been agreed between the government and construction companies that all the transactions in the Tirisano Fund will be done on a transparent basis, all beneficiaries will be publicly disclosed and all financial transactions of the fund, including administration fees, consultancy payments - if any and if warranted - as well as payments made to any individual company, should be open to public scrutiny,” he said.

Patel said the trust provided that the money may be allocated for a number of different purposes.

They included bursaries for black students studying engineering and building science and bursaries for the development of black artisans.

Companies that are party to the VRP agreement are Aveng Grinaker-LTA, Basil Read, Group Five, Murray & Roberts (M&R), Raubex, Stefanutti Stocks and WBHO.