Communications Minister Ivy Matsepe-Casaburri came under intense
pressure from African National Congress (ANC) MPs yesterday to secure
full funding for state-owned signal carrier Sentech, as resolved at the
Polokwane conference, writes Linda Ensor in Business Day.
Sentech has been tasked with rolling out infrastructure for digital broadcasting for the 2010 Soccer World Cup as well as a high-speed national wireless network, but has complained about lack of funding.
Matsepe-Casaburri raised her frustration about the lack of state funding for Sentech this week, but reassured ParliamentÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s communications portfolio committee yesterday that ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œmostÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â members of the cabinet had been brought around, and the Presidency was seized with the matter.
ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã…â€œ Funding for Sentech is very important. We have requested the funds. We really cannot continue like this,ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â she said.
ANC MP Khotso Khumalo insisted that if state funding was not forthcoming SentechÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s listing under the Public Finance Management Act should be changed, enabling it to raise funds.
Sentech needs R955m to roll out the digital broadcasting infrastructure, but treasury undertakings fall R300m short of this.
Matsepe-Casaburri said banks had indicated they were willing to lend Sentech about R800m, but this would be impossible until SentechÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã¢â€žÂ¢s listing under the act was changed. It was important the transfer took place, she said, but not everyone agreed.
Matsepe-Casaburri referred obliquely to people in government, officials advising ministers, who believed the private sector should be doing the things for which Sentech was responsible. They believed Sentech should not be given funding that would squeeze out the private sector.