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Gordhan says his dept will try to find funds to pay SA Express employees

About 691 employees have not been paid in full since the end of March. Some of them last week demonstrated outside the Department of Public Enterprise’s offices in Pretoria.

FILE: Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan. Picture: Abigail Javier/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said his department would continue to try and find funds to help employees of stricken regional state-owned airline, South African (SA) Express.

About 691 employees have not been paid in full since the end of March. Some of them last week demonstrated outside the Department of Public Enterprise’s offices in Pretoria.

The liquidators of SA Express are currently investigating a number of offers from parties interested in either buying equities or assets belonging to the airline.

Gordhan was taking part virtually in a question and answer session in the National Assembly on Tuesday afternoon.

Gordhan said SA Express employees had received some money through the COVID-19 Temporary Employer/Employee Relief Scheme (TERS). But he said more needed to be done.

“So, the department will do everything possible to cooperate with the liquidators, support their processes and their outcomes, and furthermore, we will continue to assist to find funds so the employees who have been loyal to SAX for many years, are not left without any money."

He said while SA Express staff faced many difficulties, he hoped these would be short-lived.

“Money at the moment, from the public purse, as you know is difficult to access, but we will see what we can do over the coming weeks to ensure that the employees are not worse off than they are currently. In addition, we will assist the liquidators where such assistance is required to explore and investigate any offers to buy equity in SA Express.”

Meanwhile, Trade, Industry and Competition Minister Ebrahim Patel said major changes were on the cards for the country’s economy.

He said COVID-19 would have a lasting economic impact and would affect a number of industries.

Patel was also answering questions in the National Assembly as part of the economic cluster on Tuesday afternoon.

This comes a day before Finance Minister Tito Mboweni presents an adjustment Budget on Wednesday.

While not part of the economic cluster session on Tuesday, Mboweni is also expected to touch on economic reforms when he presents his Budget on Wednesday.

His Cabinet colleague Patel said the country was not out of the COVID-19 woods yet.

On his plans to reboot and totally restructure the economy, he said: “I want to highlight five elements of such a plan; infrastructure recovery measures that focus on political, economic and social industrial infrastructure and use that programme to build and rebuild local supplier industries.”

Patel said as part of the restructuring, the country must take up current opportunities like the manufacturing of personal protective equipment.

“Thoughtful input replacement programmes to avoid the gaps and disruptions we face with global supply chains to produce basic equipment and foods.”

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