Call for debate on spending

2008-04-22 00:00

The provincial government should review the roles played by public entities and other related issues, such as the remuneration of board members for such entities.

This was the argument advanced by Belinda Scott, the ANC MPL who also chairs Legislature’s Finance portfolio committee, during a debate on the 2008/09 budget of the Economic Development Department.

Scott said a performance appraisal is needed for all the public entities.

Provincial public entities — such as Ithala and Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife — have been receiving negative publicity of late.

Ithala recently made headlines for an exorbitant payment to its former CEO and controversial loans issued to "related parties", including families of government officials and MECs.

"We need to look at whether the functions [carried out by the public entities] cannot be better performed by the departments themselves," she said

Scott said a review of the remuneration for board members of these entities is another major concern.

"We need to ask ourselves if we need to pay these people so much. I know of board members who only sit for an hour and get remunerated for the whole month, it can be R2 000, R3 000 or even R5 000. Some board members get paid more than what the members of this legislature get."

Scott said further debate is needed on what recourse the provincial government has against board members when their decisions put the province at financial risk.

"We also need to grapple with the issue of whether we have any recourse against them financially when there is loss incurred."

Scott said a similar debate is taking place nationally and in other provinces where there are moves to de-establish these entities.

Economic Development and Finance MEC Zweli Mkhize welcomed Scott’s call.

Answering questions on the loans granted by Ithala to "related parties", Mkhize said he saw no reason why other MECs and top government officials apart from the line function MEC [himself] should disclose if they were granted loans by the entity.

Mkhize is the only MEC to have disclosed particulars of a loan granted to his wife, May, by Ithala.

He said that while improvements could be made, Ithala remains a viable institution.

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