JOHANNESBURG - Deputy President Cyril yesterday failed to confirm or deny the existence of a secret proposal by the government to sell its stake in Telkom in order to raise R10billion to fund SAA.
DA MP Alf Lees told Ramaphosa that the document was tabled in the cabinet meeting yesterday. Ramaphosa said this matter was for debate in Parliament when it is tabled.
“The issue that (Lees) is talking about is a matter we continue to discuss. We discuss issues of State-Owned Entities, issues of assets that are strategic and issues of assets that are not strategic. The honourable member should wait, if that proposition comes Parliament will deal with that. We continue to discuss assets that are owned by the government,” Ramaphosa told Parliament during question time. “The issue that (Lees) is talking about is a matter we continue to discuss,” Ramaphosa told Parliament during question time.
“We discuss issues of state-owned entities, issues of assets that are strategic and issues of assets that are not strategic. The honourable member should wait, if that proposition comes Parliament will deal with that. We continue to discuss assets that are owned by the government.” Ramaphosa said this was a matter he would discuss in Parliament with the EFF and other parties. Earlier Deputy Minister of Finance, Sifiso Buthelezi, told the Standing Committee on Public Accounts that the National Treasury would give SAA a capital injection to help the ailing airline stay afloat. Buthelezi would not say how much bailout would be, but charged that the government would not allow SAA to go under.
Currently, SAA needs R13bn to meet its financial obligations. SAA chief financial officer Phumeza Nhantsi said they were in discussion with the lenders on the repayment of the loans valued at R6.8bn.
Nhantsi said the airline did not have the cash to settle the loans, but wanted to extend them. “SAA has loans to the value of R6.8bn which are maturing on September 30. We are engaging with the lenders. At this point we don’t have confirmation the loans will be extended,” said Nhantsi. A few weeks ago, the Treasury paid R2.2bn to Standard Chartered after the London-based lender threatened to pull the plug on the SAA loan facility. Buthelezi said that the Treasury would not privatise SAA. He said the problems that SAA faced were legacy issues, including the fact that the airline was undercapitalised.
Buthelezi said just like shareholders gave poorly performing companies capital injection by the shareholders in the private sector, the government would ensure SAA was given capital to improve its balance sheet.
- BUSINESS REPORT