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National Assembly approves Appropriations Bill to fund ailing SOEs

Wrapping up debate on the bill on Tuesday, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned that the country's debt to GDP ratio was at an 'unacceptable level' and put the country at serious risk.

Minister of Finance Tito Mboweni presenting his 2019 Budget Speech during the Plenary of the National Assembly on 20 February 2019. Parliament, Cape Town. Picture: GCIS.

CAPE TOWN - The National Assembly on Tuesday approved the Appropriations Bill, which provides for money to be allocated to departments and entities from the National Revenue Fund.

It also provides for a R3.2 billion cash injection for the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) and support for other ailing SOEs, Denel and the South African Airways (SAA).

Wrapping up the debate on the bill on Tuesday afternoon, Finance Minister Tito Mboweni warned that the country's debt to GDP ratio was at an "unacceptable level" and put the country at serious risk.

Mboweni said the Appropriations Bill should be seen against the background of the serious financial situation the country was in. While Eskom’s massive debt was a threat to the entire economy, other SOEs were also pleading for money.

“Once this Bill has been passed, we will then be in a position to use the contingency reserve account to provide support to the SABC, to Denel and SAA. But this support – SABC requests R3.2 billion - we will not just make that available tomorrow”

Mbweni said the money would be released in tranches as certain conditions were met.

Along with the Economic Freedom Fighters, Freedom Front Plus and the African Christian Democratic Party, the opposition Democratic Alliance objected to the bill. The party’s Geordin Hill-Lewis said the bailouts meant deep cuts in other areas, especially services to the poor.

“It’s a bailout bill and the poor are doing all of the bailing out – and that is why this Budget should be rejected.”

The bill must now get the National Council of Province’s stamp of approval.

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