An illegal bailout for SAA Technical?
29 March 2021
The DA has submitted parliamentary questions to the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan, to establish what the source of funds for the payment of SAA Technical (SAAT) salaries for March 2021 is to be or have been sourced from.
Reports indicate that SAAT has run out of cash and does not have sufficient funds to pay salaries for March 2021 and the following months. Reports indicate that as at 25 March, SAAT had a mere R10 million in cash available which, given the massive overheads and excessive staff compliment, is a fraction of the cash required to meet staff salaries and other current liabilities.
The SAA Business Rescue Practitioners (BRPs) who claim to have no jurisdiction over SAAT and other SAA subsidiaries, never-the-less included a massive R2,7 billion taxpayer bailout for the SAA subsidiaries in the R10,5 billion business rescue plan bailouts. According to the Minister, this R2,7 billion bailout will only be available once a special Appropriations Bill has been passed by Parliament sometime later this year and probably not before the end of May 2021. This means that SAAT will be without the necessary funds to pay salaries and other operating expenses not only for March 2021 but also for April and May 2021.
So where will the money for salaries come from?
There would seem to be three potential, although not all legal, methods of bailing out SAAT:
The most likely source of ready cash for salaries will be the cash remaining in SAA hands from the R7,8 billion bailouts recently paid to airline. The use of these bailout funds for the SAAT salaries will be in contravention of the conditions attached to the bailouts paid to SAA.
If commercial banks make short-term loans to SAAT on the basis that the R2,7 billion bailout will be made available to SAAT by Parliament it will be an arrogant slap in the face for hard pressed South Africans who are battling daily to feed the families.
If any government guarantees, without parliamentary approval, for commercial banks to make bailout funds available to SAAT, it will illustrate the need for the Private Members Bill, Public Finance Management Amendment Bill, to be passed by Parliament. This, to prevent irresponsible government guarantees being issued by the ANC as they have done for SAA, Eskom and other SOEs.
The DA will oppose any attempt by the government to steamroll Parliament to approve the R2,7 billion bailout proposed by the ANC. We will do everything in our power to block the appropriation of R2,7 billion for SAA subsidiaries.
Issued byAlf Lees,DA Member of the Standing Committee on Public Accounts, 28 March 2021