Communications minister Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams said on Tuesday evening that her department has paid Icasa the first tranche of its annual budget. This comes just a day after the communications regulator said it would take her to court to secure the funds.
In a statement issued through her spokeswoman, the minister said she had engaged with the department’s director-general, Mabuse Nkuna, to ensure the funds — more than R100-million — were transferred.
Icasa called an urgent press conference in Pretoria on Monday to announce that it had instructed its attorneys to file papers against Ndabeni-Abrahams and her department after they failed to release the first, quarterly tranche of its R450-million in annual funding.
Acting Icasa chairman Keabetswe Modimoeng used the media conference to remind the minister of its independence of the executive arm of government and warn that she is legally prohibited from holding back its funding. He said that if Icasa didn’t urgently receive the money, the authority wouldn’t be able to pay its suppliers or employees, and its operations would grind to a halt.
A report in City Press at the weekend suggested that the funds were being withheld over a disagreement between Icasa and the minister over its annual performance plan (APP) — the plan is approved by the regulator’s decision-making council.
But the minister made it clear in her statement on Tuesday that she is unhappy that Icasa aired its grievances in public, saying she noted the development “with concern”.
“At the outset, it must be categorically stated that the minister at no point issued an instruction against the transfer of funds to Icasa owing to its APP pending approval. The minister accordingly advised Icasa to rectify certain issues contained in its APP and submit a revised version by 30 April 2019,” Ndabeni-Abrahams’ statement said.
The minister said it is “common cause” that the Public Finance Management Act and related national treasury regulations govern the approval of APPs and budget allocations.
“National treasury regulations require that the accounting authority (the council of Icasa) submits an APP for approval by the relevant executive authority (the minister) who subsequently tables it in parliament.” — © 2019 NewsCentral Media