Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba dismisses claims of pensions being used for bailouts.
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THE National Treasury has come out strongly against allegations that it intended to use R100 billion worth of pension funds from the Private Investment Corporation to bail out struggling State Owned Enterprises.
In a press conference where Malusi Gigaba, the minister of finance arrived near 90 minutes late, he strongly refuted the Tiso Black Star Report that the National Treasury was interfering in the day to day running’s of the Public Investment Corporation as well as requesting for R100 billion to bail out struggling State Owned Enterprises such as South African Airways.
“There is no R100 billion that we have requested from the PIC,” said Gigaba.
He further highlighted that it was important for the Department to act in the best interests of the shareholders and protect their assets, which is why the department strongly disagreed with the report that it had planned on dipping its hands into pensioners monies for entities that have experienced series managerial dysfunctions since the dawn of democracy.
“It is important for me to nip these issues in the bud so we give assurance to pension holders that we are not going to be reckless,” he said.
The Public Investment Corporation currently manages about R1.4 trillion rands worth of pensioner’s funds in investments across a wide range of platforms and industries in SA. The deputy minister of finance Sfiso Butelezi, was also recently accused of trying to oust Public Investment Corporation CEO Dan Matjila.
In response to this allegation, Gigaba said: “I will not interfere with the board of the Public Investment Corporation. People’s pensions are safe. There is no attempt to dig into their pensions. There is a need for us as cabinet members as a whole to improve the governance of our SOEs.”
Buthelezi has since rubbished the Tiso Black Star report as malicious and inaccurate, prompting the company to go on over-drive as it has been reported that it is scrambling together a statement to try and save face.
An irate Gigaba has reiterated that he refuses to be dragged into matters that involve the board of the Public Investment Corporation when he is not a member of that board. Gigaba also highlighted that these allegations are also an attempt to undermine the National Treasury’s corporate governance as the misinformation had the ability to derail a strategic relationship between the department and the Corporation.
Matjila had come out saying that some politically connected individuals were trying to remove him from his position in order to loot pension money. This prompted the spokesperson of treasury, Mayihlome Tshwete to come out in strong defence of the minister and his deputy, claiming that whoever is found to be manipulating the current status quo for political gain will be “dealt with very harshly”.
Matjila has since said the he enjoys the continued support of the board. “We will continue to invest in SOEs on condition that they meet the criteria,” he said.
However, other sources close to the developments who spoke to African Times on condition of anonymity for fear of reprisals said: “Where there is smoke there is fire. It is very peculiar for Treasury to deny this when it would not be the first time that a corporate entity has lost people’s pensions as a result of mismanagement and covering losses. If the global financial crisis of 2008 as well as the current widespread corruption that has come to characterise South African politics, one must always expect the worst from those who are in the driver’s seat.”