File picture: FWT

CAPE TOWN - Media reports "exposing the dysfunctionality and financial mess at the state-owned SA Express" airline makes a complete mockery of the scheduled taxpayer bailout of R1.7 billion to SA Express, the Democratic Alliance said on Sunday.

The DA would propose amendments to the Adjustments Appropriation Bill to prevent the payment of the funds to SA Express, DA spokesman Alf Lees said.

"Reports that SA Express is paying R40 million a month to lease aircraft that are essentially scrap because they have been stripped of useful parts is mind-boggling and brings into question the wisdom behind National Treasury’s decision to saddle the South African taxpayer with more funding for the airline," he said.

While SA Express could not find money to keep its aircraft flying and generating revenue there was no indication that the company’s highly paid board members and executives had had to forego any of their "lucrative pay packets and bonuses".

Finance Minister Tito Mboweni announced that revenue collection for the next three years would be R85 billion less than the February budget, and yet he saw it fit to add R1.7 billion for SA Express over and above the spending declared in the February budget, Lees said.

"It is unconscionable that SA Express is kept 'alive' with taxpayer bailouts simply to provide 'employment' and salaries to highly paid executives and staff. This bailout alone could have been used to pay [more money] per month for a full year to child grant recipients.

"The DA believes that the only moral and logical option is to immediately put SA Express into business rescue, and if this fails, it must be liquidated," Lees said.

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African News Agency (ANA)