Parliament has welcomed the budget allocated by National Treasury to restore fire-damaged buildings.
Finance Minister Enoch Godongwana announced during the Mid-Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) on Wednesday, that an amount of R2 billion will be set aside for the restoration of the damaged Parliamentary buildings.
This follows the devastating three-day fire that gutted parts of the precinct, including the historic National Assembly Chamber.
The fire in January this year caused extensive damage to key offices, chambers and meeting rooms in the National Assembly and Old Assembly buildings.
Parliamentary spokesperson, Moloto Mothapo, said Parliament, in conjunction with the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure, had embarked on a process to assess the extent of the damage caused, the estimated costs and quantification of damage, and accordingly made a submission to Treasury for a special allocation to restore the buildings over a three-year timeframe.
“In our submission to Treasury, we motivated that the funds be directly allocated to Parliament, instead of the Department of Public Works and Infrastructure.
“The submission is informed by the weighty and extraordinary task at hand, the urgency of the project and stronger oversight required for the success of the project of this magnitude,” Mothapo said.
Mothapo said the allocation gives an added impetus to the process of rebuilding and returning Parliament to its optimal operations.
“The allocation affords Parliament an opportunity to urgently deal with infrastructure challenges posed by the fire, which includes rebuilding damaged structures, interim arrangement for physical return of all Members of Parliament for plenary and committee sittings, broadcast infrastructure and modernisation of committee rooms to enable hybrid meetings,” Mothapo said.
R118m for unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure
Parliament has also welcomed the further allocation of R118 million for unforeseen and unavoidable expenditure, as a result of the impact of both the fire and COVID-19 on the operations of Parliament.
“We are also pleased that the National Treasury has committed to an allocation of R100 million per annum in the medium-term period towards remedying our budget baseline, which suffered significant erosion over the years through budget cuts.
“We consider this a step in the right direction towards eventually attaining the requested R300 million over the same period to fully restore the baseline to enable Parliament to discharge its Constitutional functions,” Mothapo said.
Source: South African Government News Agency