New W/Cape ministerial handbook to curb spending

2011-05-03 11:21

Western Cape premier Helen Zille today released a new ministerial handbook in an effort to reduce excessive spending by provincial MECs.

In a statement, Zille said that the handbook had been developed in line with the “no frills” ethos of the Western Cape government and that all provincial MECs would be bound by the tighter rules and regulations.

“Last year, we passed the Business Interests of Employees Act to prevent all government employees and their families from doing business with the state. We have also strengthened our forensic investigation unit to ensure that cases of corruption in provincial departments can be better detected, investigated and prosecuted.

“The Western Cape Ministerial Handbook is our latest initiative.”

She said the handbook was developed after numerous media stories on excessive spending by national ministers on lengthy stays at five star hotels, purchasing of expensive vehicles and the hosting of lavish parties.

When questioned about this, most ministers indicated that the current ministerial handbook produced by the national department of public service and administration allowed them to do so, said Zille.

“In other words, the current ministerial handbook (which applies to all national ministers and provincial MECs) facilitates and legalises this form of power abuse.

“That is why we have developed our own provincial ministerial handbook in line with the ‘no frills’ ethos of this government.”

According to the provincial handbook, any gifts or hospitality received that exceeded R350 must be disclosed. The amount in the national handbook is R500.

The provincial handbook also stipulated that a Cabinet member may not have a business interest in any entity conducting business with the provincial government if the Cabinet member himself or herself or together with one or more family members of the Cabinet member; partners or other business associates of the Cabinet member; or other Cabinet members, directly or indirectly owned or controlled more than 5% of the shares, stock, membership or other interest of that entity.

No such rule existed in the national handbook, said Zille.

On official vehicles, Western Cape ministers must ensure that the total purchase price of the vehicle chosen by the member does not exceed 40% of the inclusive annual remuneration package of the member.

The percentage in the national handbook is 70.

On domestic and international flights, Western Cape ministers must use economy class. If a flight is longer than eight hours “members may utilise business class”.

According to the national handbook, cabinet members were entitled to business class travel on domestic flights and first class travel on international flights.

The handbook was recently approved by the provincial cabinet, said Zille. 

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