Strong call for full disclosure of SAA funding

Opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), yesterday revealed that it would call for full disclosure of the status of funding for South African Airways (SAA).

Shadow deputy of finance, Alf Lees, has alleged that SAA has possibly been misleading Parliament with regard to the R5 billion bail-out that National Treasury director-general, Dondo Mogajane, said the airline would receive this year, in addition to the R10 billion bail-out already released.

He told FTW Online that SAA had been in Parliament a number of times in the past few weeks during which the DA had tried to get clarity on the airline’s cash position, funding requirements and its ability to service its debts.

“The DA has repeatedly tried to get answers from National Treasury and SAA about the cash position at the embattled airline,” said Lees. “These enquiries have been repeatedly dismissed on the basis that the information is sensitive and would badly affect SAA’s ability to operate in a very competitive market.

“SAA and Treasury have indicated in a roundabout way that SAA was not in any way in danger of liquidation and that it had until the end of the current financial year to find the R5 billion,” Lees added. “However, when we contacted SAA CEO Vuyani Jarana, he told us that SAA needed the money now, which Treasury refuted.”

According to Lees, these actions seemed to indicate that SAA and Treasury were not being upfront about the economic situation of the state airline as information gathered from sources had indicated that this R5 billion bailout had already been paid to the airline either last week, or earlier – a fact the airline failed to reveal to Parliament.

He noted that this money had likely been sourced from local banks or other lenders despite the fact that there was around R10 billion in government guarantees from which SAA could borrow.

Additionally, Lees pointed out that the next meeting of the finance committee, on Wednesday, had been unilaterally determined to be held as a closed meeting.

“This is an unprecedented action for a Parliamentary meeting to be held behind closed doors,” he said. “While there is provision for a meeting to be held as closed, the circumstances for this to happen are clearly defined and an SAA quarterly report cannot be closed off to the public.”

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