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Govt bypassed parly to get loans to pay salaries

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STORIES BY SIBONGILE SUKATI

LOBAMBA — Govern-ment bypassed Parliament and allegedly breached the Constitution when it made loans particularly for the payment of November 2011 salaries.

In the process, government is said to have clinched a deal with "an entity" which was unnamed and also put down shares in MTN and SPTC as collateral.

This is contained in the Finance Committee report which was tabled by chairperson and Lobamba Lomdzala MP Marwick Khumalo.

Khumalo described the act as a ‘wild hunt for funds by government to pay salaries’.

According to the report, Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole informed the committee that in November 2011 it proved difficult for government to pay civil servants salaries.

"In order to pay these salaries it had to clinch a deal with an entity and also had to put down shares in SPTC and MTN as collateral and the repayments are to be done over a period of six months," reads the report.

Furthermore, in October 2011, salaries were paid using money received from SACU and the Swaziland Revenue Authority and in December it was through collections and from the country’s reserves.

He said in January 2012 they were paid from SACU receipts and the minister added that initially they had to raise E500 million from parastatals that receive subventions from government.

"He also stated that the payment of salaries for February would be a challenge," said Khumalo in his report.

He said the committee noted that the acquisition of loans to pay for salaries was done outside the provisions of the Constitution’s Section 204 (2).

"The minister argued that they were given legal advice by their lawyers in the ministry that what they were doing was in order, using the Treasury Bills and Government Stocks Amendment Act 2010 as the basis for their actions," reads the report.

Khumalo said the view to the contrary was that that piece of legislation dealt exclusively with the sale of treasury bills and government stocks and made no provision for the acquisition of loans and or using government shares as collateral.

The committee said the minister needed to present the legal opinion as given to him by lawyers in his ministry.

‘We still want answers on E28m for jet’

LOBAMBA — Finance Minister Majozi Sithole should not rest until the matter of the E28 million paid towards the purchase of the jet had been finalised.

The Finance Committee has said it was very sad it had not received any tangible cooperation on the issue surrounding the money.

"Seemingly, there is no political will to recover these funds, suspicions that these funds were paid out are rife in the absence of any meaningful attempts to recover these funds.

Allegations and rumours rule supreme.

Minister authorised by parly

LOBAMBA — Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole said the then Minister of Tourism had been granted permission by a parlia-mentary committee to deposit funds from the sale of the Nhlangano Sun into an account outside the consolidated fund.

However, the Finance committee said it was unclear how a committee would have done so because committees do not exercise such powers but Parliament did. Sithole was told to investigate the status of these investments and if they were covered by the law governing the investment of public funds. Meanwhile the Auditor General is expected to conduct an audit regarding the use of funds of the Swaziland International Trade Fair which accounted for E2.7million.

‘Restore PS’s suspended powers’

LOBAMBA — The Finance Committee has recommen-ded that the suspension of some of the powers of the two principal secretaries at the Ministry of Natural Resources and Energy and Economic Planning and Development be lifted.

The two are Thembinkosi Mamba and Bertram Stewart, respectively.

Minister of Finance Majozi Sithole assured the committee that the conduct of the stripped controlling officers had been confirmed to him that the two had been rehabilitated.

 

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