Dept: We needed to spend R426m

2010-02-27 09:06

Johannesburg - The international relations and co-operation department has confirmed spending R426m on travelling, accommodation and catering from March 2008 to September 2009, but put this down to the nature of its work.

"We can't be treated like a normal government department. The money was spent in carrying out the mandate of the department," spokesperson Saul Molobi said on Friday from Shanghai, where a cup of tea cost the equivalent of R65.

The Business Day reported last Friday that national government departments ran up bills of more than R3bn on luxury travel, restaurants and accommodation over 19 months.

The international relations department was one of the biggest spenders, according to the report, which was based on a Democratic Alliance study.

Molobi took a week to respond, as he was "verifying the information".

"The expenditure on accommodation, travelling and catering was budgeted for during the two financial years," he said.

The money was spent on travelling and accommodation for "major activities" such as state visits and the presidential inauguration, international visits by heads of missions, peace operations and African Union meetings, multilateral and bilateral meetings, and training and financial reviews of missions abroad.