A new travel policy for former Members of Parliament will (finally) see a significant reduction worth millions in the flight costs for all members, including former Executive Members and their spouses.
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.
In the financial years 2015/16 to 2019/20, they cost Parliament a total of R46 124 000 in travel benefits, 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,” said Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo.
Mothapo said the policy is a culmination of years of intensive work 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 elections and post 1994.
“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,” said Mothapo.
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.
“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.