DA proposes law to strengthen transparency at PIC

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Cape Town – The Democratic Alliance is proposing draft legislation that will strengthen transparency and accountability at the Public Investment Corporation (PIC), which is responsible for managing government employees’ pension funds.

David Maynier, DA spokesperson on finance, told Fin24 that he has drafted a private member’s bill to amend the current Public Investment Corporation Act of 2004 so as to among others:

- create a new process for appointing the PIC chairperson;

- provide for a different structure of the PIC board; and

- impose a duty on the PIC to disclose all investments.

A private member’s bill, as the name suggests, is draft legislation submitted by a private member of Parliament and is not part of government’s planned legislation.

Appointment of chairperson

In the draft Bill, Maynier wants the chairperson of the board to be appointed by the Finance Minister on the advice of the National Assembly, which in turn should consider a list of candidates following nominations from the public and the PIC’s clients.

“From the list of nominated candidates, the National Assembly will make one recommendation to the minister,” Maynier explained.

Another proposed amendment is that any directive from the Finance Minister, such as instructions for investments or statement of strategic intent of the PIC should be tabled before Parliament within 30 days from being issued.

Maynier also wants the PIC to be legally bound to disclose all its listed and unlisted investments on an annual basis on its website and tabling it before Parliament.

In addition, the new Bill should compel the PIC to make known in its annual report a total list of requests made to the Finance Minister for any significant transactions.

Maynier said his private member’s bill is currently before Parliament’s legal services. If approved it will be published on Parliament’s website for a period of 30 days. A finale draft will then be introduced to the standing committee on finance.

“I would like this Bill to be tabled in the current term of Parliament,” Maynier said. “Parliament managed to make amendments to retirement reform legislation in other two weeks, so it can be done. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. The time is right.”

Controversy

The PIC has been mired in controversy for a number of months now, ranging from rumours that it will be required to help bail out ailing state-owned enterprises, such as South African Airways (SAA) and Eskom, to reports that its CEO Dan Matjila is on his way out.

Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba refuted all the allegations.

Gigaba on Tuesday ordered a forensic audit of the all the PIC’s investments for the past two years, saying this was needed for "transparency purposes in the public trust". 

"Any form of uncertainty in the PIC would further destabilise the economy," he wrote.

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