Don't panic, we are not funding SAA - GEPF

Cape Town - The Government Employees Pension Fund (GEPF) assured its members, pensioners and beneficiaries that it has not received any proposal to help fund South African Airways (SAA).

GEPF is Africa’s largest pension fund with more than 1.2 million active members from more than 325 government departments, in excess of 400 000 pensioners and beneficiaries, and assets worth more than R1.6trn.

"No discussions have been held with GEPF on this matter. Therefore, we urge all our members and pensioners not to panic or read too much into this speculation," the fund said in a statement.

It assured its beneficiaries that their pension savings are safe.

Last week National Treasury told the National Assembly that it is considering various options to recapitalise SAA and that these include the Public Investment Corporation (PIC) as a possible equity partner. The PIC is the fund manager of the GEPF.

This was after Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba said in a written reply to a parliamentary question in June that he has not investigated the possibility of using the GEPF through the PIC as a possible public entity partner for SAA.

Former finance minister Pravin Gordhan first alluded to the possibility of a minority equity partner for SAA in his 2016 Budget.

"Treasury speculation is perceived as confirmation that the GEPF’s assets will be used through the PIC to Fund SAA. The GEPF, through the PIC, receives many requests all the time and rigorously considers the merits of all investment opportunities and invests prudently in the best interests of its members, pensioner and beneficiaries," said the GEPF.

"The GEPF adheres to strict regulations governing its financial liability to members, beneficiaries and pensioners, as well as its financial soundness. Moreover, the GEPF has confidence in the PIC’s ability to prudently invest funds on its behalf in terms of the agreed investment mandate. The GEPF constantly monitors and evaluates the PIC’s performance in accordance with its investment policy and mandates."

GEPF emphasised that its primary role is to protect the wealth of its members and pensioners by safeguarding their retirement benefits through proper administration and prudent investment.

Earlier this month Fin24 reported that the PIC and GEPF are likely to come under increased pressure to make investments in struggling state-owned enterprises (SOEs), as private sector funding is drying up.

Charles Collocott, a researcher at the Helen Suzman Foundation, said in a briefing notice that such potential investments would be considered “less than prudent” and he urged GEPF members or pensioners to voice their concerns directly with the fund.

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