Opposition anger mounts over R10bn SAA bailout
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Cape Town - Minister in the Presidency Jeff Radebe has added his voice to that of senior government officials that SAA will receive a R10 billion bailout.
Radebe’s statement in the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) on Thursday came the day after Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa had told the House the same thing.
Radebe was answering questions in the NCOP when EFF and DA members asked him about the bailout.
Radebe said Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba would give more details on the matter in the next few weeks.
Addressing the NCOP on Wednesday, Ramaphosa told MPs a Special Appropriations Bill will be tabled in Parliament before the end of the month.
On the same day, the National Treasury’s director-general Dondo Mogajane also confirmed to the standing committee on finance that the Special Appropriations Bill would be tabled before the end of the month, as this was an urgent matter.
SAA needs the money to repay banks which it owes R6.8bn.
The EFF asked if the Presidency had influenced the Treasury to bail out SAA, but Radebe denied the Presidency was behind the bailout and said Gigaba had indicated he would address it.
“The appropriate person is the minister of finance who will make a decision in the next few weeks,” he said.
SAA has been bleeding financially over the last few years and has survived on government bailouts amounting to almost R20bn over the past 10 years.
The government has said it would consider selling its 39% stake at Telkom worth R13bn to get the money to fund SAA.
But opposition parties were not happy in the NCOP about the bailout to SAA.
The DA’s Chris Hattingh said the government cannot continue to rescue ailing state-owned entities.
He added that the government had allowed the looting of SOEs by the Guptas.
The Guptas have denied the allegations in the past.
Nkagisang Koni of the EFF also accused the Guptas of looting SOEs and the government of failing to stop them.
She wanted to know from Radebe if the Presidency was behind the R10bn bailout to SAA, but this was denied by the minister.
Radebe said they were monitoring the work of SOEs and aligning it with the National Development Plan.
He asked MPs to be patient with the government in improving the balance sheet of state entities.
“As I have indicated in my earlier reply, there is a mechanism to monitor SOEs. We shall improve over time.
“There was the Presidential Review Commission where restructuring is discussed on an ongoing basis,” he said on Thursday.
Radebe acknowledged that the poor performance of SOEs would not yield good results.
“All the SOEs are committed to the implementation of the NDP.
“Due to the financial challenges that many SOEs are having, that could retard progress. We should improve the performance of the SOEs,” said Radebe.