Motlanthe urges govt officials to spend wisely

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Pretoria - Government officials need to be careful about their expenses especially when a country is battling with the economic recession, says Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe.

Motlanthe said major commitments of government have to be considered very carefully in the light of current economic conditions and the condition of the poor and the unemployed.

Regarding the vehicles purchased by ministers, Motlanthe said all were undertaken within the regulations set by the Ministerial Handbook which sets out the benefits and privileges applicable to members of Cabinet.

"While some may hold the view that certain of the purchases were inappropriate in current circumstances, these purchases were in fact planned and budgeted for," Motlanthe said during his response to questions raised by political parties in the National Assembly on Wednesday.

He said the purchases were not unethical in that they were not illegal or underhand. For these reasons, government does not intend to request the return of the vehicles.

"In any event ... a used car has far less resale value than a new car, so returning the cars and buying cheaper ones would result in significant losses. While it may sound good it is not particularly practical."

Following the controversy, Cabinet had agreed that a task team be constituted to prepare recommendations on developing measures for fiscal prudence with specific reference to curbing wasteful expenditure, establishing cost cutting measures and reviewing procurement practices.

It also suggested a possible adjustment of the existing guidelines for purchasing official vehicles for political office bearers as reflected in the Ministerial Handbook.