DA calls on Manuel to curb excess

2008-11-27 00:00

Cape Town — The DA is to ask Finance Minister Trevor Manuel to act against national departments and their officials who spend excessive amounts of taxpayers’ money on hotel, travel and food expenses.

This follows revelations that 18 out of the 26 national departments spent R2,19 billion on accommodation, travel and food during the 2007/08 financial year.

This was a R356 million, or 19% increase from the previous financial year, it emerged during answers to parliamentary questions.

DA spokesman Motlatjo Thetjeng said the party will ask Manuel what action the national Treasury has taken against departments and their officials who spend excessively.

The DA findings come in the context of Manuel’s call on South Africans to tighten their belts ahead of a predicted economic downturn.

Manuel, in his medium term budget policy statement, was outspoken about the excessive amount of travel undertaken by national departments and ordered them to cut down on their expenditure.

But Thetjeng said at a media briefing that this has clearly not happened. “Rather, government officials have continued to waste public money by flying around the country, staying in luxurious hotels and eating at expensive restaurants … ”

Thetjeng said the government should ensure money is not wasted by government officials but is spent on delivering basic services such as housing, water and electricity.

Across 18 departments that responded to DA queries, a total of R2,19 billion was spent in 2007/08, of which R593 million was spent on accommodation, R1,4 billion on travelling and R156 million on food.

Across all categories the average increase in expenditure was 19% — 3,5% higher than inflation (15,5%).

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