'Non-negotiable' for SAA to hand over its financials, says chair of oversight committee | Fin24
 
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'Non-negotiable' for SAA to hand over its financials, says chair of oversight committee

Feb 19 2020 17:50
Khulekani Magubane, Fin24

Chairperson of Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts Mkhuleko Hlengwa told reporters after an update briefing on South African Airways that the committee looked forward to the release of the airline’s business rescue plan as it would bring them closer to accessing SAA's financials.

Minister of Public Enterprises Pravin Gordhan briefed a joint sitting of Scopa and the Portfolio Committee on Public Accounts on Wednesday morning, saying the need to provide financial assistance to the airline will be a reality until its business rescue process ends.

During his briefing to Parliament – which was also attended by business rescue practitioners Les Matuson and Siviwe Dongwana – Gordhan did not rule out financial assistance for SAA from the fiscus.

SAA has failed to table its annual financial statements since the 2016-17 financial year. While tabling of the annual financial statements is required by the Public Finance Management Act, section 65 (2) of the act allows a parastatal to be excused for failing to do so, under exceptional circumstances.

Hlengwa told reporters after the meeting that the joint committee did not presume that it had the power to approve SAA's business rescue plan but said that accessing the plan would bring Parliament a step closer to getting annual financial statements from the airline.

'Non-negotiable'

"We want the financials. That's a non-negotiable. But we are also alive to the prevailing realities at SAA. The business rescue practitioners present a new state of dynamics as far as oversight is concerned. We can’t move full speed ahead without understanding what is happening," said Hlengwa.

During the meeting, Gordhan told MPs that the department would seek legal advice of section 65 (2) of the PFMA. He said the release of financial statements in past years would have had implications for deciding whether the airline should go into liquidation.

Members of the joint committee roundly agreed that section 65 (2) of the PFMA did not entitle the airline to abscond its legal and financial obligations to Parliament, least of all to do so indefinitely. Gordhan reaffirmed that the business rescue plan needed to be approved in consultation with the shareholder and creditors of the airline.

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