Politicians face the credit snip

Johanesburg - Government officials have less than a week left to run up credit card bills at taxpayers’ expense.

All government credit cards will have to be cut up on Friday.

This is according to an amendment to the regulations of the Public Finance Management Act published in the Government Gazette last week.

This is the first of the “austerity” measures announced in Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan’s medium-term budget policy statement last month to curb the excessive expenditure of senior civil servants.

After Friday, no “institution” or “public entity” may “implement a corporate credit card scheme”, reads the new regulations.

In addition, the accounting authorities of all government entities “must cancel each credit card issued before November 15 2013 and valid on that date”.

Treasury spokesperson Phumza Macanda said the ban on credit cards was comprehensive and included the entire government and state-owned companies.

Replying to City Press’ questions by e-mail, Macanda said Treasury did not have an estimate of how many credit cards were in the hands of state officials.

When asked how officials would now fund expenditure that was not illegitimate or excessive, Macanda said: “Government is discussing the mechanisms of how the measures will be implemented.

“Once those discussions are finalised, the guidelines will be published.”

A slew of recent scandals demonstrates that a week is plenty of time to cause significant damage with the credit cards issued to office bearers at every level of government, right down to the municipalities.

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