Former MPs downgraded from business class travel to economy.
A new travel policy for former Members of Parliament will see a significant reduction in the flight costs for all members, including former Executive Members and their spouses.
This follows the completion of Parliament's policy on travel facilities for former Members of Parliament, including former Members of the Executive.
Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said the policy is a culmination of years of intensive work initiated by the Presiding Officers to mainly address unjustifiable costs driven by travel benefits provided to former MPs, including former Members of the Executive, who served prior to the 1994 democratic breakthrough and post 1994.
Mothapo said there are currently 209 former Members of the Executive, including their spouses, widows and widowers, who enjoy benefits, as defined in the Ministerial Handbooks from 1992 to 2007.
He said the groundwork, which also involved discussions with the Executive through the relevant Ministers around the development of the new policy framework, was initiated during the fourth Parliament.
"Numerous proposals were submitted for consideration over several years. However, with the executive facilities provided for former Members of the Executive in force, an alignment needed to be created in order to bring about an inclusive and equal dispensation across the board.
"The discussion in this regard resulted in a letter on 2 December 2019, from the Minister of Public Service and Administration, formally advising the Speaker of the National Assembly that the chapter on benefits for former Members of the Executive has been excluded from the Guide for Former Members of the Executive approved on 20 November 2019."
Mothapo said the exclusion of a provision for former Members of the Executive from this policy gave new impetus to the parliamentary process of reviewing the travel policy and to bring about a single, integrated, cost effective and uniform Parliament-administered policy for all former Members, including those who served in the Executive.
"The process, as evidenced by the date of the letter from the Minister of Public Service and Administration, was initiated and driven by the Presiding Officers of Parliament, and was not at an instigation or under any pressure by any parliamentary political party, as claimed in the media, "Mothapo said.
Some of the key changes effected in the new policy:
- Former Members of the Executive previously received single domestic business class flights per annum, with 48 for Ministers, 36 for Deputy Ministers, 24 for spouses of Formers Ministers, 18 for spouses of former Deputy Ministers and 12 for widows or widowers of former Minister's or Deputy Minister. The new policy allocates 12 single economy class air tickets per annum for all former Members, including former Executive Members and their spouses. The tickets are for domestic travel only.
- The new policy defines a limit of five years for all former Members, regardless of the duration of service, as long as they completed a full parliamentary term, whereas former Members of the Executive previously enjoyed their facility for life. Tickets may not be accumulated and must be used in the year allocated, and those not used in the year applicable are forfeited.
- While previously there was no criteria for former Members of the Executive to qualify for their facility, the new policy provides that former Members may only qualify if they complete a full term of Parliament.
- Previously former Members of the Executive qualified for business class travel, based on provisions of the Ministerial Handbook. Now all former Members will travel only in economy class.
Mothapo noted that in the financial years 2015/16 to 2019/20, Parliament had spent a total of R46 124 000 on travel benefits of former Members of Parliament, including former Members of the Executive, with R7 426 million in 2015/16; R8 688 million in 2016/17; R7 934 million (2017/18), R10 698 million in 2018/19 and R11 378 million in 2019/20.
"Based on projections, applying the new policy provisions and informed by assumptions on future utilisation and flight costs, the estimated reduction in expenditure over the next five years is R22 million.
"Parliament is confident that, based on the actuarial assessment and projections conducted, the new travel policy will undoubtedly significantly reduce the funding required for this purpose, which lifts the burden from the public purse, in light of the socio-economic hardships confronting South Africans," Mothapo said.
To read the new travel policy of Parliament, follow the link: https://www.parliament.gov.za/storage/app/media/Docs/atc/c93fec8c-24a7-4352-8b86 e8197b901e84.pdf.