Ministers' bling days over?
Cape Town - Public Service Minister Richard Baloyi has hinted that the quality of cars purchased by ministers might be downgraded.
He also admitted that it bothers him that large sums of money are spent on buying expensive cars for ministers during a time of economic stringency.
"My response if that yes, it does bother," he told a media briefing in Parliament on Wednesday called to discuss the question of ministerial cars and ministerial housing. "We are considering options," he said.
Downgrading the cars would, he stressed, be only one option. But he is prepared to consider others, including one suggested by a participant in the press conference who wanted to see ministers drawing a car from a government pool.
He said the way the rules in the ministerial handbook are implemented becomes important. "It is in the manner as to how you manage these things," he said.
The minister pointed out that the handbook does not say the minister must purchase a car valued at 70% of his salary: it says he may not spend more than this on his wheels.
Baloyi said he did not want to pre-empt the outcome of the review of the ministerial handbook, because he did not want to make it his personal decision. But he agreed that the review should produce results soon.
Tools for work
Sapa reports the minister emphasised, however, that the luxury vehicles many members of President Jacob Zuma's new Cabinet have acquired over the past six months are but "tools to do work".
He said ministers had to be "highly mobile" in order to carry out their duties.
"They have to travel from one place to another, doing work... There has to be a conducive environment in order for them to do their work."
"It [is] the responsibility of government to provide the necessary minimum resources that are required for ministers to do their work," Baloyi said.
Over the past six months, Cabinet members have spent, in total, tens of millions of rands on luxury vehicles, many fitted with expensive accessories, for official use in both Cape Town and Pretoria.
"It's within the prescription [of the Ministerial Handbook]," Baloyi said.