National Assembly adopts bill to improve transparency and governance at PIC

The National Assembly adopted the Public Investment Corporation Amendment Bill, which seeks to strengthen governance and improve transparency at the investment manager.

A total of 194 MPs voted in favour of the bill, and seven opposed it, at a sitting on Tuesday afternoon. There was one abstention. The bill will be referred to the National Council of Provinces for concurrence.

The PIC manages over R2trn of state employees' pension funds. A commission of inquiry into allegations of the state fund manager is currently underway. Key witnesses such as PIC board chair and Deputy Finance Minister, Mondli Gungubele have testified.

Among the provisions of the amendment bill put forward by the standing committee on finance, include having the finance minister appoint 10 non-executive board members - one to be a National Treasury representative, two representatives from the largest depositor and one from any depositor whose assets under management by the PIC is less than 10%, ANC MP Thandi Tobias told the National Assembly.

"It is important to have depositors – the trade unions and pensioners – have a stake in the decisions made," Tobias explained.

Further the PIC is to invest in projects that benefit the beneficiaries of depositors, in accordance with instructions of depositors. "Our bill gives the workers of SA a voice on how their money must be invested," Tobias emphasised.

Additionally the minister must table a report to Parliament on the PIC's investments, and request approval for significant transactions.

The Congress of South African Trade Unions (Cosatu) supports the bill, as it allows for union representation so that workers can have a voice on how funds are managed. "This bill is one of the most progressive, anti-corruption and pro-worker bills since 1994. It is badly needed given the avalanche of looting that is being exposed at the PIC commission of inquiry established by the president," Matthew Parks, Coastu's parliamentary coordinator said in a statement.

"The PIC funds are workers’ hard-earned monies... It is not a slush fund for morally defunct politicians, their parasitic relatives and corrupt business persons. Nor is it petty cash for a state bankrupted by the looting brigades," Parks said.

Cosatu wants the bill to be adopted by the National Council of Provinces by March 28 and has threatened to elect its own PIC board if there are any further delays.

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