No Zuma jet could help save SA R9bn - DA

Cape Town - President Jacob Zuma does not need a new jet, the Democratic Alliance has said in a new paper that aims to save South Africa over R9bn.

“First of all, the aircraft is new; secondly, it has been well maintained and it is literally in mint condition,” DA shadow minister for finance David Maynier told Fin24 about the current presidential jet.

The DA will submit a proposed Budget Amendment to the Standing Committee on Appropriations on Tuesday that aims to save the country R9.52bn.

"We don’t think that it is therefore warranted to spend an extra R3.9bn or R4bn particularly in this economic climate on the presidential jet."

Beyond the slashing of the jet, the DA proposed 399 amendments to the budget, including limiting SA’s investment into the Brics Bank, reducing expenditure on economic classifications and discretionary savings.

Tight timetable

The DA aims to use the savings to increase the Public Works budget by R1.2bn in an effort to create 180 000 jobs; increase Higher Education by R2.7bn to support 205 000 students; provide relief to poor households with R2.7bn in additional social grants, among its proposals.

In terms of social grants, the DA said that it was focused  on providing immediate relief, but wanted to ensure a larger pool of employed people.

“It’s not a question of looking at the amount of the grants in future years; we’ve got to ensure that people are able to sustain themselves without grants - that has to be the way one deals with incremental increases,” said Alf Lees, DA deputy shadow minister for finance.

Maynier conceded that the compilation of the amendments created a tight timetable for adoption.

“We would argue that there is in fact sufficient space in the programme, to deal with it [amendments]. All it would require would be for the committee obviously to make a recommendation to Parliament and for Parliament perhaps to delay the debate on the appropriations,” he said.

“This is the first time that we have attempted to amend the budget in Parliament and it is a learning curve,” Maynier added.

In his budget speech in February, Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made no specific mention of the new presidential jet, but Maynier argued that it would be purchased.

“We, and certainly based on my past experience, believe that it is on the budget, but that it is hidden in the Special Defence Account,” said Maynier.

“That is where we believe the budget for the presidential jet is warehoused and that’s fairly consistent with my experience in the defence portfolio.”

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