Ministers have not broken rules with official cars

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Cape Town - Though the amount cabinet ministers had spent on official cars was a concern for government, ministers had not broken any rules in buying official vehicles, said the Minister of Public Service and Administration Richard Baloyi.

Baloyi and the Minister of Public Works Geoff Doidge, briefed the media on Wednesday on the accommodation and transport that ministers were entitled to.

Baloyi emphasised that ministers did not oversee the purchase of official vehicles themselves, as this was the function of each department of each minister concerned.

"It is not these individual ministers who are doing the procurement themselves as if these are personal belongings, these are government belongings," said Baloyi, who added that the cars were intended as "tools to do work".

He said as part of their work serving communities, ministers needed to be highly mobile and have the right kind of car that would be able to reach rural areas and last at least 120 000km or the length of their five-year term.

"We need to reach out to the people. You can't then say as a minister that you can't go out, because your vehicle can't afford it," said Baloyi.

He said chapter five of the Ministerial Handbook for Members of the Executive and Presiding Officers stated that the total purchase price for the car or cars chosen by ministers may not exceed 70 percent of a minister's annual remuneration package.

The handbook also specified that cabinet ministers were allowed two cars, one to meet their duties in Pretoria and the other for Cape Town while they attended Parliament.

Baloyi said the ministerial handbook was subject to constant review, but that the task team set up to look into government expenditure would guide cabinet as to how to approach issues of costs related to accommodation and cars.

The findings would be announced soon, he said.

"We are looking at how we can manage the implementation of the provisions of the ministerial handbook," explained Baloyi.

Addressing the media, Doidge said members of the executive were permitted to have two official residences, in both Pretoria and Cape Town, but that only 10 of the 33 members of the executive had applied to take a second official residence in the mother city.

He said of the 10, seven members would be moving into their residences at the beginning of December.

The delays were due to the need to carry out routine maintenance and renovations to existing properties, the process taken to acquire suitable additional housing stock, as well as waiting for the transferral of properties to the State.

So far six additional properties had been bought in Cape Town to accommodate members of the executive.

Doidge said he was satisfied that "due process" was followed in purchasing these properties and that the department did so in line with policy.