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Pravin tells MPs to learn 'modesty'

04 April 2014   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Author: Phetane Rapetswane
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Author: Phetane Rapetswane (Times Live)

Minister of Finance Pravin Gordhan said there is not enough money in the budget to provide MPs with extra perks, and he urged parliamentarians to spend taxpayers' money sagely.

While revealing revenue collection numbers for 2013/14 at a media briefing yesterday, Gordhan called for greater restraint in the spending of the public purse, as the Treasury aims to reduce the government deficit, which currently sits at 4%.

Gordhan said he spoke to both the Speaker Max Sisulu and Deputy President Kgalema Mothlanthe about the controversial proposal to fund the flights of retired MPs for 10 years at taxpayers' expense.

An MP who had served one five-year term would get eight economy class tickets a year for 10 years, an MP who had served two would get 16 economy class tickets a year, and an MP who had served three terms would be eligible for 24 business class tickets a year.

Gordhan said: "We've agreed the fiscus is not going to supply any additional money, so we are not talking about finding additional money in the fiscus to support whatever changes in benefits that parliament might be calling for.

"We also agreed that the message we want to communicate is that the government's outlook must be modest and that when looking at these sorts of issues, modesty is a very important message to communicate to the public.

"Parliament will have to work within existing mechanisms to meet its requirements, keeping in mind the modesty aspect I mentioned earlier."

The DA 's federal chairman, Wilmot James, expressed concern over the proposal to fund retired MPs' flights.

"During a time when every public office bearer should be doing what is right by cutting back - to assist the Treasury with their belt-tightening measures - this move is completely unacceptable." he said

According to calculations by the Sunday Times, the flight funds would amount to R210.6-million a year if the perk was granted to all 454 MPs and 430 provincial legislatures.

The proposal also recommended that the spouses of MECs also receive travel benefits.

Gordhan said he was happy with the revenue collected in the last financial year.

He said the R899.7-billion collected for the past financial year slightly surpassed the target of R899-billion.

"The South African Revenue Service has done well to surpass the target and reduce the deficit in such a challenging global economic crisis," he said.

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