Hogan angers ANC with statement

2009-06-11 17:30

Cape Town - The ANC in Parliament on Thursday repudiated Public Enterprises Minister Barbara Hogan on the possible sale of under-performing state-owned enterprises and called on her to explain.

National Assembly public enterprises committee chair Mabel Mentor told a media briefing at Parliament she would "like to clarify the issue regarding a statement attributed" to Hogan on state-owned enterprises.

"The Minister is quoted as saying government might sell underperforming public enterprises.

"There is no basis for the statement. There was no consultation on the issue. This is a policy shift and therefore it cannot be entertained without proper consultation," Mentor said.

Hogan had also not raised the matter when she met the committee, nor was it discussed by the ANC study group.

Explanation wanted

"It will be appropriate for the minister to explain her statements," she said.

"Ministers are political heads of departments - they implement government policy and are accountable to Parliament.

"We regard state-owned enterprises as key in the country's economic growth path both in terms of job creation, halving poverty, and particularly in enhancing the objectives of rural development."

The recent global economic downturn had proved that the market on its own and without state intervention "is disastrous".

"It would then be folly for us to sell these state-owned enterprises merely because they're facing challenges which we strongly believe are manageable," Mentor said.

Current economic environment

Business Day reported on Wednesday that Hogan had warned unprofitable state-owned enterprises that the new administration might be prepared to sell them if they continued to underperform as the state could not afford to bail them out indefinitely.

She conceded, however, that selling any of the businesses in today's economic environment would be extremely difficult, not to mention the stiff political resistance that such a move would encounter, the newspaper reported.

Hogan's spokesperson was not immediately available for comment on Thursday.