Government ministers continue to undermine the belt-tightening measures implemented by National Treasury with spending on travel and subsistence rising to R9.27 billion in 2015/16.
This is according to the Democratic Alliance following feedback from questions it sent for written reply to the National Assembly.
These “cost containment measures” were originally introduced by the Minister three years ago via National Treasury Instruction No. 1 of 2013/14.
A reply to a parliamentary question raised by the DA revealed that “non-core goods and services” including consultants, travel and subsistence, catering and entertainment, reached R35.2 billion in 2015/16.
There was some good news however, with the National Treasury pointing to saving of R5.59 billion (-18%) in consultancy fees in 2015/16 compared to the previous year.
However, travel and subsistence, catering and entertainment showed the following:
- Spending increased on travel and subsistence by R215.58 million, or 2%, from R9.06 billion in 2014/15 to R9.27 billion in 2015/16; and
- Spending increased on catering, entertainment and venue rental by R58.67 million, or 7%, from R868.74 million in 2014/15 to R927.42 million in 2015/16.
The written reply revealed that National Treasury received numerous requests for deviations from cost containment measures, including a request from the Minister of Home Affairs, Malusi Gigaba, to allow his support staff to fly business class so as not to be inconvenienced.
The motivation for the deviation from National Treasury’s cost containment measures reads as follows:
“The fact that there may be time delays as a result of the Minister and his Personal Assistant disembarking from different airport terminals should be taken into account by the department when planning official trips.
“The Minister was inconvenienced and had to further wait for the disembarking of the personnel assistant from another terminal to be able to proceed with the trip which resulted in the Minister arriving late for scheduled appointments.”
National Treasury however, turned down the request for deviation from cost containment measures, along with 21 other (out of 28) requests between 01 April 2015 and 31 July 2016.
Additional justifications for deviation included:
- The R1,300 accommodation limit and category B vehicles not suitable for level 15 officials.
- Board members need comfortable cars to drive from airports to business branches.
- Impractical to book delegates accommodation outside the vicinity of the conference venue, so the entity requested to exceed the R1,300 limit.
- Board members should be allowed to fly business class for both local and international trips.
- All venues were fully booked and the last option was the hotel exceeding the limit.
- 2 quotations were received and the cheapest accommodation was then fully booked and left with the option of the accommodation costing R1,695 per night.