DA wants criminal charges at Usaasa
MP Marian Shinn says the transfer of R4,7m from the universal service fund to settle a tax bill is illegal under the Public Finance Management Act.
Democratic Alliance MP and communications spokesman Marian Shinn wants communications minister Dina Pule to lay criminal charges against the “official or officials” at the Universal Service & Access Agency of SA (Usaasa) who authorised the withdrawal of R4,7m from the agency’s universal service fund to pay a tax bill.
According to Shinn, the money was withdrawn to settle Usaasa’s pay-as-you-earn (PAYE) bill.
“The auditor-general discovered the unlawful transfer from the fund to Usaasa and it is recorded in the annual report for the year ended March 2012 as irregular expenditure,” Shinn says.
“The illegal transfer was not picked up by the two executive caretakers … who were appointed last November to oversee the administration of the entity when its executive management team was suspended at the start of a forensic investigation into financial mismanagement.”
Shinn says the transfer of the money from the fund is illegal under the Public Finance Management Act because it was not authorised by the minister of finance. “A similar transaction in the previous year led to the ‘resignation’ of the former chief financial officer, Keith Keys, for financial mismanagement.”
The universal service fund, which receives contributions from licensed telecommunications operators and broadcasters, is meant to be used to provide services in underserviced parts of the country. Government has earmarked part of the fund for the subsidisation of set-top boxes that consumers will need to receive digital terrestrial television signals.
According to Shinn, 43% of government’s R83,1m allocation to Usaasa in the most recent financial year was spent on staff costs. “This is clearly an entity focused more on the enrichment of officials than the expansion of access to broadcasting and telecoms.” — (c) 2012 NewsCentral Media